Ending the Food Rut

October 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Recipes, Staples, YUM | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

I’m a big fan of eating seasonally.  I starting eating seasonally out of financial necessity as a college student.  Food is expensive, but I learned as a college sophomore that I could go to the local farmer’s market and get more food than I  could carry for under $15.  I bought what the farmer’s had in bulk, because it was cheap.  At the time I didn’t understand or appreciate that it was also what was in season and what was going to packed with the most nutrients.  Now as a mom I have a greater appreciation for the nutritional facts of eating seasonally.  But beyond the nutrition there is also an emotional element.  When you eat seasonally you end the food rut.

I don’t know about you but as much as I love food sometimes I get in a food rut, and my child definitely gets in a food rut.  When something tastes good and I know he will eat it I tend to give it to him over and over again.  We all know that eating the same thing day in and day out is not ideal.  Even my son now says to me, “Mom, we need to eat the rainbow!”  Isn’t it nice when they parrot back the lessons that you have tried to instill in them as if they invented it!  Eating the same thing over and over can create food sensitivities or even food allergies.  So it is important to eat a variety of foods.  Eating seasonally helps you to automatically rotate your food.

Our bodies often tell us it’s time to change foods, but our brains don’t always listen.  Last week my son informed me that he wanted pumpkin pie for dinner!  I totally shut him down at the time and then started thinking about it but he’s right it is pumpkin time!  His body is asking for beta carotene and a more carbs because it’s fall and that’s what it should be asking for.  My husband asked for pea soup the other day.  At the time I thought he was crazy!  It was a 113 degrees, record breaking heat for Los Angeles at the end of September, so my head was saying, “Summer!” and thinking about gazpacho, but in reality my husband’s stomach was right, it’s fall! 

Fall seasonal foods happen to be yummy, so now is a great time to take advantage and eat seasonally.  The colors tend towards more red and orange, but there are still some great greens at this time of year.  Our family loves to enjoy red and orange peppers this time of year – make every attempt to eat these organically.  Pumpkins and fall squashes like acorn, butternut and even spaghetti squash are great right now.  If you are buying pumpkins to eat make sure you get “cooking” pumpkins rather than a “carving” pumpkin!  Some pumpkin patches will carry both and stores like Whole Foods Market will clearly mark cooking pumpkins.  If you’ve only ever eaten canned pumpkin treat yourself to the real deal, you won’t believe the difference.

I love to cook acorn squash in the oven by simply slicing it in half and throwing it on a baking sheet face down and baking at 350 until I can easily pierce it with a fork.  I let the squash cool and then flip it to scoop out the seeds.  I sprinkle a little salt, a little olive oil and I have an easy, nutritious, inexpensive, seasonal side dish.  Did I mention it tastes good? It’s serious comfort food, and kids love being able to scoop the squash out to create a boat on their plate.

This week my son and I have big plans to cook a squash stew inside a pumpkin.  We will throw all of the fresh, seasonal veggies we get from the farmer’s market into a pumpkin and bake the whole thing on low heat until it’s bubbly.  Yum.  Eat seasonally it’s a worthwile adventure.

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