Monthly Archives: June 2016

Squaghetti

What is squaghetti?  It is one of those things that you do in marriage, COMPROMISE!  See explanation below . . .sq

Squaghetti, or it’s maiden name, spaghetti squash, is completely a gift from the food fairies.  A co-worker of Mr. Solberg, we will call him Blue, has been working on improving his health and suggested we try this UFV in place of pasta.  Of course I needed to start an investigation.  I referred to the vast reference tool library at UFVU, (Unidentified Fruits and Vegetables School of Food Data Technology) and found it had acceptable nutritional facts but how do I use it?  Easy!  Cut it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and strandy things like a pumpkin, season it, put it face down on a cookie sheet and bake it in a 350° oven for 30 minutes.  Let it cool and then “rake” out the flesh with a fork.  There are many other ways of preparing this UFV for use but I think this was the easiest.  I think I watched a video on U Tube to learn.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know by commenting below!

Squaghetti is a group of cultivars of Cucurbita pepo subsq. pepo.  Now you know?  Interesting facts when I started this investigation, this UFV is both vegetable and fruit.  We can call it a vegetable because it is commonly used as savory but it can also be sued sweet.  Technically, any plant that flowers and has seeds to be replanted is considered a fruit.  Now for the whole cultivar thing, it refers to cultivated variety which means it was selected and cultivated by humans instead of by nature which would be called Variety.  Now you know!

As with every testing method there are successes and failures.  There have been no failures for me, but a few things that I have encountered with squaghetti is cooking time.  If it is not very ripe, it may need to be cooked longer or possibly add some liquid to the pan to help steam it.  You can tell when you try to rake out the flesh that you may not be able to get all of it down to the skin.  Also, the outside skin looks solid but I believe it can be fragile and if it is punctured in transit, it will spoil while sitting on the counter.  You will see mold when you cut into before removing the seeds or it can have a more pungent smell.  One last thing, when you cut it open to scoop out the seeds, I use scissors to cut through the strandy things to make it easier.

Now for the successes!  The strands of flesh that you rake out can be used in place of pasta in dishes that you would normally use spaghetti or Asian noodles.  My recipe for Casseruola di Spaghetti can easily use this UFV in place of the tofu noodles if desired.  I have made many different meals by substituting squaghetti for pasta, I would love to hear what you have done!  I will put together recipes and post my ideas as I can.

Now for the explanation for the name change and a little bit of trivia.  As an adventurous foodie, I am completely open to trying new things but as most of you will admit, if you have an experience that you could only describe as food torture, you may be less likely to try it again.  Squash was like that for me.  I believe the type was acorn squash and I would classify it as a thing that nightmares are made of.  So after probably 43 years, I decided to try this UFV that Blue suggested.  Italian food is not something that I will easily give up so I needed a pasta substitute.  Mr. Solberg is definitely trying to be more open in his trying new things so here is where the COMPROMISE comes in.  We will not call it squash or will we admit to eating squash.

For squaghetti, it is now transferred from the UFV category to AFV (Acceptable Fruit and Veggie)!  If you have a UFV to submit for investigation, let me know and I will hunt down the facts for you.

 

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Day 2 – Back to School

The definition of a food pattern is the quantities, proportions, variety or combinations of different foods and beverages in diets, and the frequency with which they are habitually consumed, according to the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.  This guideline was created primarily for nutrition and health professionals to help Americans make healthy choices to prevent chronic disease.  There are no secrets here, common sense and good choices is how it reads.  This is the eighth edition that has been published and is a road-map for 2015-2020.  This guideline is used to inform the USDA and HHS food programs like the National School Lunch Program.

Do you remember School House Rock type public service announcements?  These PSA’s were designed to provide a memorable, informative education while watching our favorite cartoons or after-school specials.  In the small amount of time the commercial would run, we learned how a bill becomes a law, what is a conjunction, and hankering for a hunk of cheese.  The food pyramid was easy to understand and we always knew to finish our vegetables before leaving the table.  I mean, how many times did you think, “when I grow up, I won’t have to eat all of my veggies while I run around with scissors!”

I was also thin, energetic, and a lot less cynical. I enjoyed a steak over a chicken breast and macaroni and cheese was manna from heaven.  I also played outside, rode a bicycle, and went on nature hikes.  As I got older, I made my children eat vegetables but not as many, especially not fresh.  Lots of canned green beans and corn were on our menu.  I have learned to cook many things over the years but did not start incorporating the fresh vegetables and fruits until recently.  I needed to go back to basics school.

To change a pattern, we have to use parts of our brain to grow new neurons to connect with existing ones forming new pathways.  Harvard psychologist, William James wrote in his 1890 book The Principles of Psychology, “In most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set likconnection-647217_960_720e plaster and will never soften again.”  He believed a personality becomes fixed after a certain age because we use the same neural pathways again and again until they are stuck and deeply embedded.  Newer studies have shown that deliberate repetition and practice can create new connections but they are fragile.  Motivation, willpower, and self-control will need to be used to achieve the goal of a new pattern.  In an article from Fast Company, Tara Swart, a lecturer at MIT, states “Depending on the complexity of the activity, it could take up to four and a half months to create a new pattern”.

My challenge is to find ways of using more fresh vegetables and fruits to create a pattern of eating nutritional, tasty foods.  If a food pattern can be changed by making it connect with existing patterns, the best way I could think of doing it was by taking our common meals and substitute ingredients.

How can I add more fresh vegetables to my meals when I don’t even know what they are?  kohlrabi-783166__180The light green bulb with stalks and leaves in the picture was an interesting item that I could not identify, nor could the young man in the produce section.  Unidentified Fruits and Vegetables or UFV are starting to haunt me and has me questioning my culinary prowess. There are several places that sell these UFV’s but what are they?  What do they taste like?  Do they have any nutritional value?   By accident, flipping through a vegetable book, I was able to identify the UFV, it is a kohlrabi.  I am sure we will rename it to suit our needs.  As in any problem that needs to be solved, troubleshooting techniques should be applied.  I have listed below the standard troubleshooting tips for solving my culinary challenge.

  1. Identify and duplicate the problem – Diabetes Type 2, High Cholesterol, Overweight, etc. √
  2. Establish a theory of probable cause – A half century of bucking the food and exercise system √
  3. Test the theory to determine cause – Take blood sugar readings to determine what foods increase the numbers √
  4. Act – Initiate Lifestyle Change Plan √
  5. Test and Prevent – Start working the above step √
  6. Report – Document, document, document!

Step 4 required more than just announcing a change needed to be made.  The time and effort that I happily expend taking care of my soulmate requires focus and knowledge.  It is a good thing I am a foodie!  I have established the UFV School of Food Data Technology for my education.  At UFV, the never-ending thirst for knowledge is quenched by finding great ways of adding needed nutrition to our meals without raising the dreaded blood sugar readings.

Mr. Solberg started with an A1c of 11.5 in October of 2015.  His current result has him down to 5.7 as of June 2016.  With the help of prescribed medicine, diet, and exercise, he has lost over 40 lbs and feels great.  The consequences for not making a change are not readily apparent until it becomes a burden on the patient and their family.  This disease has become an epidemic in our country and I believe it will spiral out of control if left unchecked.

Food is fun and I love to cook.   I also enjoy discussing food and preparation techniques so I will share with you on our journey the successes and failures.  Please comment anytime!

 

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