Tag Archives: Seasonal Eating

Recipe ReDux: Butternut Squash Cream Cheese Spread

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is “Dressing for Success.” While the original idea (by my friend and fellow RD Danielle at Food Confidence) was salad dressings, the theme was expanded to include spreads and condiments.

I have posted a bunch of dip and spread recipes in the past so I needed to come up with something new.  A few years ago I made a delicious pumpkin cream cheese dip that I served with cinnamon pita chips – it was really delicious! I couldn’t find my recipe for it, but decided to recreate it for this month’s post. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to roast, scoop, and puree fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin isn’t so easy to find right now. (A couple of years ago there was a shortage of canned pumpkin and apparently this year should be better, but I had no luck finding any yet. Maybe it’s just too early in the season.) I did however find canned butternut squash, so I used that in place of the pumpkin and the end result was still delicious.

Using canned squash or pumpkin with no added ingredients and low-fat cream cheese keeps this recipe low-calorie, low-fat, and rich in beta-carotene. Portions can be kept small because a little bit of this dip goes a long way.

cream cheese spread recipe

Butternut Squash Cream Cheese Spread
Serves 20; Serving Size: ~ 2 tablespoons


  • 1 15-ounce can butternut squash
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese (half a bar)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground cinnamon, to taste


  1. In a food processor, combine the butternut squash and cream cheese. Blend until well combined. Add salt and cinnamon to taste and blend well.
  2. Chill and serve with pita chips, crackers, or vegetables.

butternut squash cream cheese spread recipe

Nutrition Facts (per 2 tbsp): 23 calories, 1 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein, 4 mg cholesterol, 40 mg sodium

Check out these other great “Dressing for Success” recipes from my fellow ReDuxers!

Seasonal Pizza

My husband and I are pizza lovers. (Is there anyone who isn’t?!) In the past we would order in or go out for pizza, or occasionally we would enjoy a Kashi frozen pizza. But last December when I was testing recipes for We Can Cook, I made pizza at home and we really loved it. (The only other time I have ever made pizza at home is on Passover when I make matzo pizza.) Although I didn’t make the dough from scratch, it was still really fun to make the pizza – rolling out the dough, choosing the toppings, and seeing it turn into a delicious meal. Not to mention that it was so much cheaper than getting it ready made!

Last week when I made the cucumber soup I decided to make pizza to round out the meal. I had beautiful farm-fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, summer squash, and some leftover roasted broccoli on hand as toppings. I bought the whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, divided it in two to make two pizzas, topped each crust with tomato sauce, part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, and veggies, and watched it cook. Ten minutes later we had two Nutritioulicious pizzas (plus enough for lunch leftovers).

pizza recipe

Margarita Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

healthy pizza

Summer Squash and Broccoli Pizza

If you’re going out for pizza, be sure to check out my tips for how to make it a healthy slice!

Have you ever made pizza at home? What are your favorite pizza toppings? 

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

By Megan Kian

With these past few sticky and extremely hot days it’s been hard to find a way to cool down. At home in New Jersey my dad has a garden where he loves to grow a variety of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs. One of my favorite herbs that he grows is mint (I also love his basil). It is such a fragrant herb that it had me feeling refreshed with just the smell! Mint was originally used as an air freshener to rid rooms of unpleasant smells. It is a great source of antioxidants including vitamins A and C, and has a long nutritional history for its use in aiding digestion. In cooking, it is not as common to see mint used in main dishes, but it can be used as an accent in sweets. I decided to use the mint from my dad’s garden to make mint chocolate chip ice cream! Here is the recipe that I used from David Lebovitz:

Ingredients:mint chocolate chip ice cream recipe

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

You’ll also need an ice cream maker to make this delicious ice cream!


  1. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup heavy cream, salt, and mint.
  2. Once the mixture is hot and steaming, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for an hour to infuse the mint flavor.
  3.  Remove the mint with a strainer, then press down with a spatula firmly to extract as much mint flavor and color as possible. Once the flavor is squeezed out, discard the mint.
  4. Pour the remaining heavy cream into a large bowl and set the strainer over the top.
  5. Rewarm the infused milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then slowly pour some of the warm mint mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
  6. Cook the custard, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
  7. Immediately strain the mixture into the cream, then stir the mixture over an ice bath until cool.
  8. Refrigerate the mixture thoroughly, preferably overnight, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Add in as many chocolate chips as you like!
  10. When finished, cover and freeze until firm.

How do you like to use mint?

Cherries Are In Season!

You all know I love eating based on what’s in season, so when it comes to the summer months I’m basically in foodie heaven. There is so much produce available in these warmer months and I start getting my CSA deliveries, which I’m always excited about!

Some of my favorite fruits of the season are stone fruits, including cherries. As you could see from my Recipe ReDux post yesterday, I have already been busy using cherries to make cherry chutney and I love having a handful with breakfast and for an after dinner snack too.

cherries nutrition

There are different varieties of cherries, some of which are sweet and some sour. All cherries are a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, although sour cherries have higher amounts of these nutrients and are a little lower in calories. Cherries have been shown to help improve arthritis and gout thanks to their level of anthocyanins, antioxidants found in red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables. Half a cup of sweet cherries provides 45 calories, 11 g carbohydrate, and 2 g fiber.

Do you like cherries? How do you enjoy eating them? 

Farmers Market Finds: Asparagus

By Jo Bartell

Asparagus is one of my all-time favorite vegetables, so you can imagine how excited I am to have it fresh from the farmers market this time of year. I picked up two bunches of large asparagus for $8.00 this week and I can’t wait to eat them!

asparagus season

Asparagus is low in calories and high in fiber, with 30 calories and 3 grams of fiber per cup. It’s also a great source of folate, which is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system, and extremely important for pregnant women and women planning to get pregnant. Just one cup provides over 65 percent of the recommended intake for folate! I also love eating asparagus at this time of year because it serves as a natural diuretic. This means that it helps get rid of swelling, bloating, and water retention, which is important in the summer heat — especially when we’re out in our bathing suits!

By the way, it’s no myth that asparagus can make your pee stink! The jury is out on what exactly causes the odor, but it’s one of many substances in asparagus. Not to worry though — there are no health risks associated with asparagus consumption and urine odor.

Here are some of the ways I will be preparing my farmer’s market asparagus:

  • Roasted asparagus.
    • Drizzle a little olive oil over the spears, sprinkle on a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and toss.
    • Roast on a baking sheet at 400o F for 25 minutes.
    • For a cute addition if serving these to guests, try taking a bundle of about six spears and tie them together with a scallion!
  • Grilled Asparagus. A great recipe for your summer BBQs.
    • Take asparagus and place side by side, then pierce asparagus with 2 wooden skewers, forming a raft to place on the grill.
    • Combine a little olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, some lemon zest, paprika, and pepper in a bowl and then brush over the asparagus.
    • Grill these up and you have a simple, nutritious and delicious addition to your meal.
  • Added to omelets and scrambled eggs for breakfast.
  • Blanched and eaten cold as part of a crudités platter or on top of a green salad.

How do you enjoy asparagus?

Seasonal Dining at Rouge Tomate

By now I’m sure you know that I am a huge fan of eating based on what’s in season. I can’t think of anything I love more about dining out than a restaurant that embraces seasonal and local ingredients. That’s why I really love Rouge Tomate, a restaurant in Brussels and New York City.

Rouge Tomate is a member of the Green Restaurant Association and adheres to a nutritional charter called SPE, Sanitas Per Escam, which means “Health Through Food.” This charter was developed by chefs and culinary nutritionists and is an “innovative approach toward well-being through balanced and optimal nutrition that maintains, protects, and strengthens the body.” There are 3 key elements of the SPE approach:

  • Sourcing: Selecting seasonal and local ingredients with a focus on nutritional characteristics
  • Preparing: Using cooking techniques that preserve the integrity and nutritional quality of ingredients (for example, they don’t grill their food)
  • Enhancing: Optimizing the nutritional value of the food through product combination and menu diversity

As a dietitian, one of the things I love about this restaurant is that they have a culinary nutritionist (who is an RD) on staff. She makes sure that meals are balanced, including dessert and beverages. And unlike other health-focused restaurants, Rouge Tomate is fine dining at it’s best! Take a look at some of the dishes I had on a recent visit:

rouge tomate ceviche

Hawaiin Walu Ceviche with Avocado, Yuzu, Jicama, White Soy

rouge tomate restaurant

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache with Market Pear, Candied Orange, Hazelnut, Smoked Sea Salt

If you live in NY or come to visit, I highly recommend you check this place out! You can find more info about the restaurant on their website.

Note: I am not a consultant for Rouge Tomate and I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own.

Spiced Delicata Squash with Pears

The following post was written by nutritioulicious™ intern Jo Bartell

As the fall sets in, I start to crave squash (well, I always crave squash), and I love that so many varieties of winter squash are at the farmers market, the grocery store, and in all the cooking magazines! One pretty and yummy winter squash that I sometimes forget about is the delicata squash. If you’ve never seen a delicata squash, it’s about the size of a large potato. The outside is cream colored with thin dark green vertical stripes and a yellow flesh in the center. The thin outside skin is both easy to cut through and great to eat.

I often check Eating Well for their awesome vegetable-filled recipes and creative food and nutrition articles. I was really happy to see a few recipes featuring delicata squash in this month’s issue. Last night I decided to try their “Chili-Brown Sugar Delicata Squash with Pears” with a few modifications. The original recipe called for a small amount of bacon and bacon fat, but since I’m not a bacon eater I decided to make my dish vegetarian. I also forgot to buy brown sugar, so I had to leave that out too, although I’m sure it would have been a delicious addition. This simple recipe is a nutritious and delicious mix of sweet and spicy and made a perfect, flavorful side dish.

Spiced Delicata Squash with Pears (original recipe from Eating Well Magazine)
Serves: 4; Serving Size: ¾ cupwinter squash recipes
TotalTime: 35 minutes


  • 1 pound delicata squash (about 1 large)
  • 2 medium ripe but firm pears, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with pears, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet.
  3. Roast the squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, for a total of 20 minutes.
  4. Toss pears with chili powder and roast for another 5 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per serving): 114 calories, 2 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 127 mg sodium

Nutrition Note: Both delicata squash and pears are rich sources of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help increase immunity, which is important during the upcoming winter months. The orange center of the delicata squash is a wonderful source of beta-carotene, a compound our body can turn to vitamin A, another antioxidant that helps with healthy skin and vision. The skin of squash and pears is also packed with fiber, so make sure to eat the whole thing!

Have you ever tried delicata squash? If so, how do you prepare it?