Heidi is a stay-at-home mom who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005. Later, her oldest son was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 5. In 2010, after her youngest son was diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a casein intolerance and an egg allergy, Heidi and her husband began trying something different with their children: raising them to love natural, whole foods. Heidi shares the great recipes she’s found, as well as information on her new passion, understanding the complexity of gluten sensitivity on her blog Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom.
I love autumn and all the foods that come alive this time of year. Apples, chile (part of the territory of living in New Mexico), cranberries, pomegranates, and winter squash. Prior to this year, my squash experience had been limited to just 3 varieties: acorn, butternut and pumpkin (and typically doused with something sweet like maple syrup or Cool Whip).
Blogging for the past year and a half has been one of the greatest gifts of my life because it opened the doors to an entire world of ingredients I had never known before. I greet each day with the anticipation of learning something new from some really amazing food bloggers and it makes me a little sad that it took 36 years and a life altering celiac diagnosis to get to where I am today. I was raised on highly refined convenience foods loaded with chemical preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, partially hydrogenated fats and added sodium and sugar (but because they were fortified with added nutrients, we were told those foods were nutritious).
It feels good to finally be free from that snow job.
So this year I decided to break away from the typical repertoire of mainstream grocery store offerings and discovered a vast selection of bizarre looking winter squashes at my local co-op. We have tried all sorts of new (to us) varieties of squash including Buttercup, Carnival, Hubbard, Kabocha and Delicata. What’s been particularly special for me as a parent, is watching my kids giggle at the sight of all the funny looking squashes and come up with new names for them like “Frankenfoot” and “IchaKaboca Crane” (which of course made them even tastier, LOL!).
Winter squashes are a great source of Vitamins A and C as well as potassium and fiber. Winter squash is also a good source of Vitamins B1, B3, B6, folate and they even contain omega-3 fatty acids. You can read more about the amazing health benefits of winter squash on WHFoods.com
Frankenfoot Delicata squash is also called a “sweet potato squash” because of it’s creamy pulp and similar taste. Originally, I was just going to roast it, but I decided to look around for something more unique instead (as if the Delicata weren’t unique enough).
A recipe for Delicata Squash Stuffed with Orzo in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce (click here for the full recipe) on Herbivoracious.com caught my eye. Michael’s creation was too beautiful to ignore, so I set my sights on creating a modified gluten-free version of it.
The biggest obstacle to this recipe was obviously the orzo pasta because there doesn’t seem to be a GF version on the market (here’s an idea: maybe companies could quit trying to make more gluten-free brownies and focus on something more useful like GF orzo!). After doing a little bit of digging online, I found another blogger who showed how she makes her own orzo and I shared the information about that on my blog here.
Following Michael’s recipe was a snap (I’m not really a recipe developer, more of a recipe tweaker/gluten-free tinkerer). The squash was easy to prepare and assembling the dish took no time at all. Well, except for the orzo. I spent way too much time on the pasta, especially for a post on squash! I ended up forgoing the bread crumbs and pumpkin seeds because I had a few growlers barking at my heels. No matter, my husband and oldest son loved this dish.
A little confession here: I’ve been battling a chronic sinus infection for six months now and have lost my sense of smell (and therefore taste). I hope to have this cleared up soon, but in the meantime all of the tasting and therefore recipe tweaking on my blog has been courtesy of my official taste-testers (the food I prepare is for them anyway, right?). My husband really enjoyed this dish, although he did say that upon initially seeing all of the ingredients that don’t usually “go together,” he was skeptical. But as the flavors began to meld for him, he was impressed. None of the ingredients seemed to overpower each other but blended quite well into something new (his words). Just enough sweet and nutty flavor from the squash (“earthy” as he would say) to balance the tart punch of the dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds. The hint of sage from the sauce added a pleasurable third dimension of flavor. My son was not as descriptive, other than to say he liked it and then he ate the whole thing (which for a 7 year old, is pretty much all I’m going for!).
What I am starting to realize is just how versatile winter squash can be (so much more than a maple syrup and whipped topping delivery vehicle) and how it can be a better “base” ingredient to so many wonderful dishes. I could easily see our family having more fun with these under-appreciated vegetables. Instead of reaching for the same boring potatoes (there’s only so much you can do with a potato), I will be wandering the produce aisles of my co-op looking for more funny-looking squash.
And I know what my husband will be planting in our garden next year! 😀