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November, 2008

Squash

By Cheryl Forberg

If you look down at your dinner plate, and all you see are earth tones - there’s something missing. The key to healthy eating is a colorful plate at every meal. Positively AgelessIf you look down at your dinner plate, and all you see are earth tones -- there’s something missing. The key to healthy eating is a colorful plate at every meal .

Butternut Soup with Chipotle Cream
That’s because the rainbow of colors that fruits and vegetables provide, are loaded with fiber, minerals and vitamins. And the bright pigments in those red, yellow, orange, and blue tints indicate incredible health benefits. Tomatoes, winter squash, spinach and other leafy greens are excellent sources of fat-soluble vitamins, which mean they are stored by the body. (Water-soluble vitamins on the other hand, such as Vitamin C and B are not stored by the body and need to be replenished throughout the day.)

The carotenoid veggies (identified by their typical orange-yellow color) are perhaps best known for their ability to be converted to vitamin A, a powerful antiaging ally. Essential for healthy vision, vitamin A plays many roles in maintaining youthful body tissue. It boosts immune system function, provides protection from sunburn, and inhibits the development of certain types of cancers. Vitamin A is also involved in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin and hair. Though preformed vitamin A is available from sources such as meat, liver, and eggs, there are many reasons to limit our intake of animal products related to their high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol. In addition, excess intake of vitamin A from supplements can be harmful.

Another way to get your vitamin A is from the form found in plant foods. The orange pigments called carotenoids in a carrot, for example, convert to vitamin A in the body. Carrots, winter squashes, pumpkin, mangoes, red Bell pepper, and sweet potatoes all offer scrumptious ways to kick up your Vitamin A intake. The markets are now loaded with fiery squashes and pumpkins so it’s a great time to enjoy them in their splendor. Here is a delicious way to enjoy one of the incredible harvests of fall – the butternut squash.

Butternut Soup with Chipotle Cream
Yields: 6 servings.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 1/2 pounds Melissa’s butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups fat free reduced sodium chicken broth

Garnish:
Melissa’s Spicy Chipotle Garnish Sauce
Cilantro Leaves

Instructions:
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and stir in the onions. Reduce the heat; simmer. Stir onions regularly for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are lightly browned and caramelized. , Add the squash, cumin, and coriander; stir well. Add 2 cups of the broth and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for another 15 minutes or until the squash is tender. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Transfer soup back to the saucepan and season to taste. . Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with a drizzle of Melissa's Spicy Chipotle Garnish Sauce and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve hot.