Apple Stuffed Acron Squash

IMG_3155September and October is a great time of year to take children apple picking. When a child goes to an orchard they see where their food comes from, and by the act of picking, adopt ownership of that food. How often has your child agreed to try something simply because they picked it out or helped make it?

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Despite this apple being thrown down from the tree, it was great for baking.

Adding apples to dishes has proven to be an effective way to get my son to consider otherwise “unacceptable” dishes. Since my kid was a baby he has had a true distaste, nigh disdain,  for all things squash (I blame Gerber). I made this dish with the hope of getting him to consider acorn squash. With gentle coaxing he took a few bites, which considering he is a picky preschooler, I deem that a success. Mom and Dad also enjoyed the blending of flavors!


Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

serves: 4                             time: prep 15 minutes, cook 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 5 medium apples
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 4 tsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

IMG_31781. Cut acorn squash in half, and remove stems and seeds.

2. Place acorn squash into a glass baking dish, place a tsp of butter into each squash, salt and pepper each squash according to taste, and then pour apple cider into the bottom of the pan. Cover dish and place into an oven preheated to 350 F and bake for 45 minutes.

 

IMG_31823. Meanwhile, peel, seed, and cube apples. In a bowel, mix apples with brown, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg  and set aside.

4. After 45 minutes have passed, scoop apple mixture into acorn squash and bake for an additional 15 minutes. When finished cooking, the squash should be very soft and the apples should be easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy. You may serve each acorn squash whole, and scoop the contents out of acorn squash skin, like a bowel. You may also slice and arrange on a plate.

* This pairs nicely with my Apple Cider Pork Chop recipe.

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Apple Cider Pork Chops

IMG_3238I’m always looking for ways to make pork chops acceptable to my family. As a meat they tend to be on the tough to chewy side, but are a leaner version of pork, come with a reasonable price tag, and are good at taking on a variety of flavors. I have found that the key to a good pork chop is tenderizing, plenty of time for marinating, and avoiding overcooking. The following recipe is sweet with a little bit of spice and heat. The heat can be adjusted by eliminating the cayenne pepper to accommodate to the tastes of little ones. This recipe is also a great dish to make in double batches, cooking one now and freezing one for later.


Apple Cider Pork Chops

serves: 3-5                     time: prep 15 minutes, marinate 6-8 hours, cook 15 minutes

IngredientsIMG_3077

  • 3-5 boneless pork chops
  • 1 cup organic apple cider
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin unfiltered olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp of local honey
  • 3 medium cloves of fresh minced garlic (or 1 tsp dry)
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper (just use half of a 1/8 tsp to measure)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp GMO free cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins

Directions

1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey, garlic, Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and cornstarch.

IMG_30982. Measure 3/4 cup of marinade into a small sauce pan, add golden raisins, and cover. Place sauce pan in the refrigerator and allow the golden raisins to marinate and become plump while the pork marinates. Set aside remaining marinade in a mixing bowl for pork.

3. Tenderize pork chops. To do this, place them on a cutting board, cover them with plastic wrap, and pound with the flat side of a tenderizer. The plastic wrap will prevent juices from splashing you while you work. Tenderize the pork chops until they are approximately two-thirds of the their original thickness, flipping once during the process, as seen below.

Before

Before

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After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Place pork into marinade in mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours. If you work or have a busy day ahead, this is ideal to prep in the morning, making dinner prep much easier at the end of a tiring day.

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5. Remove pork and the sauce pan with raisins from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking and allow both items to come to room temperature. Cook the pork on a grill or on a stove-top griddle on medium-high heat, flipping and basting with leftover marinade midway. Depending on the size of your pork chops, you will only need to cook them 3-5 minutes on each side. The pork is done when there is a small amount of pale pink in the center with white outer edges.

6. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes on a plate while you place the saucepan with the marinade and raisins on medium heat. Simmer and stir frequently until sauce is heated through and thickened. Pour sauce over pork and serve immediately.

This recipe pairs well with my Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash and a side salad.

Cranberry Grapple Juice

IMG_2825It’s the time of the year when I walk through the fruit section of my local supermarket and I come across cranberries, “2 bags for 5 dollars.” It always sounds like a pretty good deal and I know cranberries are supposed to be good for me, so I purchase them. The problem is I take them home and they tend to sit in my refrigerator for a couple of weeks until they spoil. The pretty red berries don’t have the greatest texture for eating and their flavor isn’t exactly kid-friendly. They certainly aren’t the sugary dried cranberries I put on our salads or in our muffins.

Cranberries are a topic of interest in popular media. This is evident in my line of work as I’ve had numerous patients say to me, ” I drink a glass of cranberry juice every day.” They do this for a couple of reasons, “It prevents urinary tract infections,” or “It helps to prevent cancer.” Both of these things are true (to some extent), but the cranberry juice that you buy at your local grocer is often lacking the magical phytonutrients that are the reason for these benefits.

The juice isle at the grocery store features dozens of brands and varieties of cranberry juice, from labels that say, “fruit cocktail,” “100% juice,” to “organic 100% cranberry.” Juices that are labeled “fruit cocktail” often contain little to no real cranberry juice and have a high amount of added sugar and sometimes artificial flavors, dyes, and preservatives. This juice will likely do more harm than good for your health. Juices that are labeled “100% juice” are true to their label, but are typically blended with other juices such as grape and pear. Additionally, the non-organic varieties tend to be high in sugar and still contain many artificial ingredients. “Organic 100% cranberry” juice is the best choice on the grocery shelf. The organic berries that the juice is made from will be free from harmful pesticides, and you are guaranteed a high concentration of cranberry goodness. Regrettably much of the good stuff such as vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes are destroyed by the heat necessary in the canning process. That’s where fresh juice comes in.

This recipe was beget by the necessity to use the soon to be spoiled cranberries and grapes in my refrigerator, an over abundance of apples, and a need to de-bitter the cranberries for my 3 year-old.


 

Cranberry Grapple Juice

serves: 4 4 ounce glasses      time: 15 minutesIMG_2786

Ingredients

  • 1 12 ounce bag of cranberries
  • 1 bunch of grapes
  • 4 apples
  • 2 trays of ice cubes

 

 

Directions

1. Assemble juicer per manufacturer instructions and wash fruit. For non-organic fruits consider using a pesticide remover.

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2. Cut apples into quarters and remove seeds (as they are toxic). Remove stems from grapes.

3. Now you are ready to begin juicing! Place cranberries, and then apples, through juicer on the high setting. Add grapes last on the low setting. Harder fruits are juiced on high and softer fruits are juiced on low. It best to juice harder fruits first.

4. Place 5 ice cubes in a favorite glass and enjoy immediately. Feel free to garnish with sliced apple.