What am I?
I am technically a fruit, but you find me in the vegetable section at the grocery store. I am a type of summer squash. I can be green, yellow, or white. The variety you get today comes from Italy. You can eat my flesh, skin, seeds, and even my flower!
Where I grow
I grow on a bush-like vine. I grow in warm climates. I need lots of sun to grow.
My plant has boy and girl flowers. Bees and other insects pollinate the flowers, and then my fruit grows.
I grow fast! Within 1 to 2 months, I'm ready to pick. Keep me on the plant and I will keep growing! The largest of me was over 8 feet long! That's huge! But you wouldn't want to eat me, I'm best when I have the most flavor when I'm small!
Once I'm picked, I can be made into anything, from bread to chocolate cake!
After I'm picked
Did you guess... Zucchini
Did you guess Zucchini? Zucchini can be eaten fresh or made into a lot of foods!
Feed your food curiosity! Snackster Sam provides fun and educational content about food that grows. Join the adventure. Download the Snackster Sam app from Google Play or the App Store
As you may know, I rarely go to the grocery store with a plan. I'm looking for good deals, in-season produce, and inspiration. This week, there was one eggplant left (and on sale), and I just had to do make a meal with it! I grabbed that, along with a few other winter vegetables on sale, and I had a meal plan.
I whipped up this very simple pasta, and oh-m-gee was it ever delicious. It's packed with flavor (oh, and nutrients), and it was so good, you forgot it was actually meat-less. Say what?! No complaints from the hubby, because it is still full of meaty-like vegetables that make you feel full (without the guilt).
The best part is the kids loved picking out each vegetable and talking about what it was, where it grows, and how it tastes. This is a part of the dinner-table-talk that needs to happen with every family. Discussing how your food grows can fill a conversation and spark so many other interesting learning opportunities (like different states, countries, climates, culture, and so much more)! And it's a conversation that is engaging for a wide range of ages.
Ok back to the recipe.
There are so many variations to this, but I hope you try new vegetables and give it a try!
Easy Vegetable Pasta
1 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced
Fresh diced tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes
1 pint fresh mushrooms (any kind)
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced and chopped
1 can tomato sauce
Penne noodles (or your preference or none! Make it your own!)
Heat oil in a frying pan. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent (a few minutes). Add mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes. Add diced eggplant and zucchini. Stir frequently and let cook for about 5 minutes or until zucchini starts to soften (it shouldn't be wilted, but you'll notice the seeds start to loosen). Add diced tomatoes, garlic, seasoning, and sauce. Stir and cover pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
While your vegetable mixture is cooking, cook your noodles according to the directions. You do not need to use a noodle, and you could certainly use a spaghetti squash or other vegetable instead. I like to keep my sauce to noodle ratio 3:1. You don't need a lot of noodles... the sauce is the main part of the meal! ;)
When noodles are finished, add the noodles to the sauce. And serve!
p.s. This is possibly even better the second day!
Please share your comments below! Did you try it? Tell us!
Danielle S is the mother of two and creator of Snackster Sam. She has been concerned about healthy habits and nutrition for over a decade, and conducted an award-winning scientific study on portion control. She created Snackster Sam to make eating healthy more fun for parents and children. Learn more about the mission here.
Let's face it, the holidays are EXHAUSTING, and maybe one reason we overeat is because we are too tired to make a proper meal. That's how I felt today after coming home from a long holiday.
I opened the fridge - empty.
My first thought was to just order dinner or go out to eat, but I knew that would just delay the REAL solution, which was to go to the grocery store. So I bundled up, brought my shopping buddy, and ventured to our local grocery store with a couple of ideas in mind for dinner. I like to go to the store with little or no plans for meals for the week. I know it's a foreign concept to many of my meal-planning friends, but if I go in with a set plan, I may miss out on discounts, fresh and in-season produce, and new recipe ideas. When I shop, I start in the produce section and base all of my meals for the week on what is on sale and what looks ripe and ready to eat. If my meal plan includes avocados but they are not ready to eat, I would either be forced to use unripe avocados or change my meal plan. Going in with no plans makes shopping more fun and keeps my mind opened to possibilities!
Luckily, there were good sales on produce that I wanted. I picked up some Portobello mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, green and orange peppers, and avocado. With these ingredients, I knew I could make a large meal that would feed my family for two meals - Vegetarian Chili. I grabbed the other ingredients I would need, along with items for other meals for the week, and headed home to get started on dinner.
SNACKSTER SAM'S BIG ADVENTURE - ON SALE NOW
What I love about chili is it's SO easy. You can add more of the ingredients you like, add as much or little seasoning as you want, and it's a hands off meal. It's really hard to make a mistake. After you chop all the vegetables, you can let the heat do its thing until you're ready to eat. This chili is so simple, I was on the phone throughout the preparation and cook time!
I used this Vegetarian Chili Recipe for inspiration. This chili is not your average chili recipe . . . think of it more as a Mexican-influenced chili. With cilantro and avocado, this recipe takes me to the beaches of Mexico. It's packed with vegetables and is meatless, but is not lacking in flavor or protein. If you are wanting to make this but are nervous about the cost of Portobello mushrooms, compare the cost of the mushrooms to the meat you would have used for traditional chili. Or if you can, make this when you can get the ingredients on sale!
Not Your Average Chili Recipe
INGREDIENTS (You can add or remove ingredients to your liking)
2 tablespoons oil (olive, coconut, or canola)
1 large onion, chopped (red, yellow, or white)
1 bell pepper, chopped (orange, yellow, green, or red)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 zucchini, chopped
1 cup corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
4 portobello mushrooms, washed and cut (I just broke the mushrooms as I was washing)
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 can black beans (you can use chili black beans or plain - drain and wash according to directions on can)
1 can tomato sauce OR 2 cans of canned tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 can vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
SEASON TO YOUR TASTES
1-2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
GARNISH (optional - but good!)
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Chopped green onions
Cooked brown rice (can add to finished chili or serve on the side - or use to make leftovers different!)
Add oil to a large stock pot and turn heat to medium-high. Add chopped onions and peppers. Stir and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until onion starts to become translucent. Add garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and corn (if using fresh). Stir and let cook for about 6 minutes. Add seasoning and stir until vegetables are thoroughly coated. Add canned good items and fresh tomatoes. (Add corn if frozen.) Bring chili to boil and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve and garnish as desired.
Try it and post in the comments what you think of this recipe! Did you make any adjustments? Have suggestions? Tell us!
Danielle is the mother of two, small business owner, and creator of Snackster Sam. She has been concerned about healthy habits and nutrition for over a decade, and conducted an award-winning scientific study on portion control. Danielle is an author and community activist who is passionate about helping people reach and exceed their personal and professional goals.
The air is about to get crisper, and if you're like Snackster Sam, you're excited to heat up the oven and make some warm foods. We love this recipe from Physical Therapist, Carolyn Dolan. Try it out and let me know in the comments below how yummy it was!
(all organic if possible, use Clean Fifteen if unable to find organic)
2 Tbsp olive oil, avocado oil, lard, ghee, or coconut oil
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large cauliflower, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, chopped into 1" cubes
1 medium zucchini, chopped into 1" cubes
5 celery stalks, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomato
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp chilli powder
4 tsp ground cumin
Sea salt and pepper added in the end to your preference
6 cups SOAR vegetable broth (if using pre-made then be sure it is organic, preservative and additive free)
1 -2 large avocado for garnish at the end
1 bunch parsley chopped to garnish
1 lb of grass-fed ground beef to add at the end (if you just can't live without the animal protein. I separated half of the chili and added the ground beef)
1 can black beans (skip if you are sensitive to legumes)
1 large pot (I used 20Q pot, need >10Q is my best guess)
1 cutting board
1 sharp chopping knive
1 can opener
Chop all ingredients. In large stock pot, sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add squash and all other vegatables adding tomato paste, chili powder and cumin. Mix well. Add diced tomatoes and vegetable broth and black beans (if including). Bring to a boil and then back to simmer and cover. Simmer until vegetables are al dente.
Serve in bowls and top with avocado and parsley. I served a side of mixed green salad, because you can't have enough veggies!
Dr. Carolyn Dolan, PT, DPT, Cert MDT is a traditionally trained physical therapist. After her own health struggles, she returned to get a degree in Holistic Nutrition to further help others to recover from injury so they can soar. Currently owns SOAR in Reno, NV where she empowers others to overcome their health conditions to optimize their performance in their life. When she isn't blogging or treating clients, she can be found chasing kids, dogs and chickens.