Vitamin C

Squash Time!


We are constantly reminded to eat more seasonal vegetables, which is easy during the summer months. When fall rolls around we may be at a loss, but let’s not forget the squash family. Winter squash is abundant now and in peak of flavor.  Winter squash is an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A and also contain vitamin C, folic acid, pantothenic acid and copper.  A half-cup of cooked winter squash has about 40 calories and 3 grams of fiber.

Squash is related to the melon and cucumber plant. There are two main categories of squash: summer and winter squash. The better known of the summer squash is the zucchini squash. Among several varieties the zucchini is the most common.  It has a fragile, tender edible skin and seeds.  The winter squash has a drier, orange flesh and is more fibrous and much sweeter than summer squash. The skin of winter squash is not edible. There are several varieties of winter squash. The butternut squash is most commonly utilized in everyday cooking.   


Risotto is all the rage on restaurants’ menus. Below is my version of risotto. It   uses butternut squash and is delicious and much healthier than what maybe found on a restaurant menu.




Butternut Squash Risotto

Makes: 8 servings               

The butternut squash gives beautiful color and adds to the creamy texture. White short grain rice is ideal for risotto. Brown rice does not work well in this recipe as the bran prevents the grain from releasing its starch. To make whole grain risotto pearled barley can be substituted.

2 ½ cups butternut squash or Hubbard, cleaned and diced

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

½ cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 ¾ cup Arborio rice or short grain rice

3 ½ cups beef broth plus ½ cup water heated or vegetable broth

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan heat oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat for 1 minute. Add squash, garlic and onion; sauté for 8-10 minutes. Add rice; stir to coat with oil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

2. Add about 1 cup of broth and stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth about half cup at a time and continuously stirring until it is absorbed. Continue this process until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes.  The squash will start to disintegrate, as it should. Toward the end of the cooking process add broth in smaller amounts so that when rice is cooked not much liquid is present.  It should be quite creamy when ready. Stir in the remaining butter, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan. 

 Tip: Risotto is a cooking technique; hot liquid is added gradually to help release starch from the grain resulting in a creamy texture. Adding different ingredients to the usual base of butter or oil   and onions can vary the risotto.   Additions can be shellfish, ground or diced meats, most vegetables and herbs.

Dark Leafy Greens To The Rescue


 Health benefits of dark leafy greens   

With today’s pace and high levels of stress, many of us suffer low energy along with assorted other maladies and health conditions. As we age, we may develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol or acid reflux. Even those with no prior weight challenges may notice an expanding waistline. 

Dark leafy greens to the rescue

This spring, make room for some dark leafy greens among your flower gardens. Dark leafy greens – including Swiss chard, dandelion greens, collard greens, arugula, turnip greens, bok choy -- yield an abundance of health benefits you won’t want your body to miss out on. These powerhouse greens offer hefty doses of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

In addition to fiber, dark leafy greens supply nutrients such as folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin E and minerals - magnesium and potassium, nutrients often in short supply in the diet of many individuals. Consuming just 1 ½ cups cooked per week contributes significantly in promoting, and maintaining good health and managing nutrition related conditions.

Here is the rundown on their function in the body and health:

Folate is abundant in  green leafy vegetables. The name folate is derived from the word foliage. A deficiency of this nutrient can result in anemia, diminished immunity, and abnormal digestive function.

Vitamin A plays a major role in eye health, cell reproduction, growth and the immune system. In leafy greens vitamin A is in the beta-carotene form, which the body converts to active vitamin A as needed.  In animal products Vitamin A is already in its active form.  

Vitamin C is often associated with citrus fruits but surprisingly leafy greens offer a substantial amount as well.  Vitamin C protects against infections, is an antioxidant, maintains collagen and helps absorb iron from food.

Vitamin K is essential for the blood clotting mechanism.  Individuals on blood thinner medication need to manage the intake of these vegetables.  

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and guards the body against free radicals that can damage lipids and lipoproteins. This can create inflammation and cell damage associated with the aging process and chronic diseases.

Magnesium has many important functions in the body. It is essential for strong bones and teeth; proper working of muscles and nerves including the heart and a strong immune system. It also works to fight inflammation.

Potassium plays a major role in maintaining fluid balance. Studies show that diets with ample potassium are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  

Fiber content of dark leafy greens is impressive as well. They contain about 4 -5 grams of fiber per 1 cup cooked. Fiber keeps the intestinal tract healthy.

In addition to their vast array of nutrients, these dark green leafy vegetables are easy to grow and prepare. Enjoy those colorful green leaves from your garden or the supermarket shelf.  Take advantage of the nutritional contribution of these flavorful vegetables and take pride in feeding your body well.

Cooking Tip:

While many leafy greens are fabulous tossed in salads, sautéing them in olive oil, garlic, lemon, and herbs brings out a rich flavor. Check out my version of sautéed spinach with raisins and pine nuts.  Adapted from my cookbook Delicious Simplicity Recipes for Today’s Busy Life.

 Sautéed spinach with raisins and pine nuts. Easy, simple and delicious.  

 Sautéed spinach with raisins and pine nuts. Easy, simple and delicious.  

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Anna Tourkakis is a nutritionist, author and founder of Eating From Within Nutrition. She provides nutrition advisory services and healthy eating programs to companies and individuals to help clients manage health conditions and maintain healthy eating lifestyles.  Anna can be reached at

T. 781 334-8752;