Superfoods: Butternut squash and Kale
There are so many super foods out there, and here are two of my favorites for the winter season. Kale is one of my ultimate favorites and it comes in three different ways. One is this beautiful curly, red kale, or you can get it in curly green kale, or, my absolute favorite, this dinosaur kale. It’s called that because look how interesting these leaves are. As a chef, people ask me all the time, “But what do I do with kale? I’ve bought it- where do I start?” I’ve got some suggestions. The first is, eat it raw. Really. I know it looks fibrous, but try cutting it up in small strips. That’s really the key to eating it raw. It won’t feel fibrous if you do this and you can replace it for any lettuce and it’s a much more interesting flavor. How I like to make my salad is to put a little purple cabbage, some pomegranate seeds, and two different kinds of carrots, both yellow and orange.
I found it all at the farmer’s market this time of the year. My other tip about eating kale raw is to dress your salad in advance. I like to do it the day before or you can just do it hours before your dinner party. What this does is it breaks down that fibrous nature that kale has and it’ll leave it softer, plus tasting better. Red kale is sweeter than the other kinds of kales, but during this time of the year, all kales are the sweetest that they’ll be, and they’re actually sweeter than the rest of the time of the year. The reason is because they’re in season, they’re able to pull more nutrients out of the ground and, in turn, they taste sweeter to you and you get more nutrients out of it.
Another great super food this season is squash, and today in particular I’m talking about butternut squashes. Butternut squash is an awesome super food. It’s delicious, nutritious, and comforting during the cold months. Everybody tends toward eating russet potatoes this time of year, with mashed potatoes being at the top of the list, but I really love butternut squash as a contrast. It’s so really nutrient-dense. It’s rich in B vitamins and phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, and fiber, and you really can’t beat that. For 82 calories a cup, I can have a lot of it, and keep my waistline. And, as a chef, there are just so many things I can do with it. I can make waffles with it. I can make a beautiful mash with it. I can take a little bit of this and mash it with a little bit of potatoes and that really makes a great mash for Thanksgiving. My absolute favorite thing to do with it is to roast it and then make hearty, warm butternut squash soup out of it. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and instead of dousing it with a bunch of heavy cream, here’s a chef tip: take a little bit of organic extra virgin olive oil, just spritz it on top a little bit, and it’ll give this butternut squash soup a richness that you never knew you could achieve with such low calories and so much nutrient punch. So this holiday season? Redefine comfort food. Why not start off with a beautiful kale salad, move into a heart-warming butternut squash soup. You will feel comforted in a whole new way and your body will thank you for it. For these and other delicious recipes using super foods, go to my website, where I’ve got the latest on what to make this season.