July 20

Humana Cooking Demo: July 20, 2023



Today's recipes: Three Sisters Succotash (saute), Creamy Lemon-Tahini Chopped Salad, Blueberry Crisp

Today our topic was incorporating more seasonal produce into our meals.

I started the season with giving you some tips for choosing a good ear of sweet corn (please, DON'T peel back the leaves!) and a simple way to cook it and maintain more nutritional value.  Click here for a blog post that covers this information and contains a how-to video. 

I also shared some of the numerous health benefits of corn!  Too many times we shy away from eating it because it has "too many carbs", but when eaten in moderation, it provides lots of benefits!  See for yourself!

Another reason people avoid corn is because they "can't digest it".  I explained that the problem might be "your stomach doesn't have teeth!" meaning due to the high fiber content of corn we need to break it up before it hits our digestive system.  This is done by CHEWING it more!  

The Three Sisters Succotash recipe illustrates the concept of  “what grows together goes together” in combining ingredients in a dish.  Foods that grow together seasonally tend to go together beautifully.  Just think of strawberry-rhubarb pie, tomato-basil sauce, or roasted apples with winter squash.

Summer brings one of these perfect combinations:  beans, squash, and corn.  In addition to being a DELICIOUS flavor combination, these three items help support each other in the fields and complement each other nutritionally in the body. 

According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who grow and thrive together.  The Native Americans chose to plant corn, beans, and squash in the same mounds, which created a sustainable system that provided for soil health and fertility. (The full story of the three sisters is at the bottom of this post.)

In the fields, corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following years corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops chances of survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure.

Nutritionally, corn, beans and squash are perfect partners.  Corn provides carbohydrates, the dried beans are rich in protein, balancing the lack of necessary amino acids found in corn. Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.

The Creamy Lemon Tahini Chopped Salad combines a colorful variety of in-season vegetables in a delicious tahini (sesame paste) and lemon dressing!  The key here is to chop all the vegetables in a similar small size.  This provides more surface area for the dressing to coat and allows you to get a bit of everything in every forkful!  Feel free to use different vegetables and herb combinations.  You can also replace the tahini with olive oil or even a smashed avocado.  

The Blueberry Crisp illustrates a healthy, low sugar dessert (or even breakfast!) option!  The fruit filling is sweetened with a bit of maple syrup and the crust incorporates omega 3 rich flax seed and protein rich almond flour in place of the traditional white wheat flour.  It is important to use GROUND flax seed as our systems are not able to break down the seed coating.  You can buy the seed pre-ground or purchase whole seeds and grind yourself using a coffee grinder, food processor, or blender.  Once ground, flax seeds should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer as they will go bad quickly. 

Finally, I shared a demonstration of Banana Nice Cream!!  This is the perfect way to use those over-ripe bananas and is a healthy alternative to regular ice cream!  To make it:

  • Peel and cut ripe bananas into slices.  Freeze on a parchment or foil lined tray or plate until solid.  Transfer to an airtight container or zip-top bag.
  • When ready to make your nice cream, add sliced bananas to blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy (like soft serve!).  You may need to add milk (1 tablespoon at a time) to achieve the "creamy" texture.  
  • Enjoy as is or blend with other frozen fruit (berries, peaches), cocoa powder, nut butter, or other flavorings!  OR mix in nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruit after blending.  
  • Store in an airtight container up to 2 months.  You may need to let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes or until it reaches a "scoopable" consistency.  

If you have any questions, let me know, and be sure to share if you make these recipes at home!  

About the author 

Mrs. Dornberg

Cheryl Dornberg, NBC-HWC, is a national board-certified health & wellness coach and culinary nutrition expert who is passionate about using the power of food to achieve optimal health and increase longevity. She specializes in motivating and empowering individuals to create sustainable & consistent dietary and lifestyle habits that support the management and prevention of chronic health conditions, increase longevity, and improve overall quality of life.

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