What’s Cooking in Mama’s Kitchen? (Fall foods)

Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts

I’ll start today with a little nutrition info and move on to some simple but yummy fall foods. The fall produce I am going to focus on are cranberries, sweet potatoes/yams, and Brussels sprouts.

Yes, I said Brussels sprouts. Believe it or not they can be yummy. I’ll tell you how to avoid the bitter ones and get the yummy ones. I learned something new when I saw the recipe for Brussels sprouts. I had always thought this particular vegetable was called brussel (no S, no capital B) sprouts. Never paid too much attention to the signs at the grocery store. So even a genius such as myself can learn something new.

Item # 1 – Cranberries. Personally I don’t like eating cranberries, but I love cranberry juice. I don’t eat cranberries because I don’t eat fruit that is cooked and mushy. Be that as it may, I do fix cranberry sauce for my father for the holidays. Here’s the good news. Cranberries are rich in anti-oxidants. Great stuff for fighting the bad free radicals floating around your body. Most people think of this as only being used for sauce on the fall and winter holidays. It is more versatile than that.

Try this simple little idea for enjoying cranberries. Put cranberries together with apple slices and drizzle maple syrup over the combo for an easy dessert than can be served anytime.

Item # 2 – Sweet potatoes and yams. Mmm. I love these. Even though these potatoes are sweeter than the regular Russets and other white fleshed taters, they are actually lower on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measuring tool used on carbohydrates that shows how quickly foods break down and are absorbed into the bloodstream. The average American diet is too high in carbs. Eating foods that rank lower on the glycemic index are better for the body. Sweet potatoes and yams are loaded with vitamins A & C, potassium, and full of fiber. (Fiber is also something many Americans do not get enough of.)

Try this as an alternative to baked or candied. This recipe has sweet and spicy flavors that will tickle your taste buds. Bake diced potatoes drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with a dash of cayenne pepper. Bake at 400’ F for about 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Item # 3 – Yes, it is now time to feature Brussels sprouts. Hurray! These little veggies that look like tiny cabbages are packed with folate, fiber, and vitamin C.  You may have tried them and thought they were bitter and yucky. Don’t ask my children to eat Brussels sprouts. They’d rather have their eyes poked out.

Let me tell you why. When they were little they were told Brussels sprouts were good for them. They ate them so often they were just plain grossed out. I didn’t do it. Trust me. When they were little I had a babysitter who fed them lunch. Every lunch had Brussels sprouts as the veggie.  And they were the big ones that were bitter. They’d come home and complain about “Brussels sprouts again.” I told them to eat one and push the rest to the side of the plate. The Kommandant babysitter told them they had to eat them all or they couldn’t get up from the table. When I offered to bring some other veggie for my children she said no as she wanted everyone eating the same thing.

I didn’t hear about the devious plan my children had hatched until a few years after the fact when I mentioned I would like to serve Brussels sprouts with dinner. I was politely informed that if I did that they would do what they always did at the babysitter’s. Which was? When Sheryl wasn’t looking they would throw their sprouts behind a bookcase she had in her kitchen. My innocent babies did that? Uh huh. They laugh about it whenever the topic comes up. Sheryl moved (after my children weren’t needing a sitter anymore) and all 3 of us still wonder how she reacted to finding piles of Brussels sprouts that had been behind the bookcase for months.  And what did they look like?

So that you don’t have your family tossing Brussels sprouts behind the kitchen bookcase, under the chair seat pads, or rarely used pots and pans, try these suggestions. It is true that as Brussels sprouts get bigger they develop a bitter taste. So buy fresh ones and choose the small ones from the bin. If the sprouts are getting to be egg-sized, skip them. If you eat one or some like this you just might be turned off from the sprouts for life.

My mother would steam them and when ready she would put butter, salt, and pepper on them. I liked them. But here are two other ways to prepare them that are yummy. One thing you can do is blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes. Put them in a pan and sauté them with garlic and onions. And garlic and onions are good for you, too.

Or, roast them at 400’ F in a shallow pan, topped with sea salt and lemon juice or vinegar. (I like both, but lemon is delightful.) Top with parmesan cheese before serving. Mmm. Try it. You’ll like it.

Til we meet again in my kitchen, Bon Appétit, mes amis!

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