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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Holiday foods from the garden

Three halves of winter squash, one face down on the table, two face up with seeds showing. Contains an orange I block and Illinois Extension wordmark.

No matter what holidays you celebrate, there is bound to be food around the table. Some of that food may have even come from your garden or local farmer. What cool season crops can you locally source for your holiday gathering? Think potatoes, carrots, onions, Brussel sprouts, beets, kale, turnips, apples, winter squash and pumpkins.

Forget the canned yams and bring out the fresh sweet potatoes, which are full of beta-carotene, fiber, and potassium. Sweet potato casserole can be as easy as mashed sweet potatoes, a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, and toasted pecans on top! Pumpkins and winter squash, such as acorn or butternut are nutritionally similar to sweet potatoes and can make a delicious pie. Of course, they can also be pureed into a soup, pasta sauce, risotto, pancakes, or oatmeal. Brussel sprouts are great on their own as a cooked side dish, but they can also be used raw and shredded into a cold salad made with apples, dried cranberries, and walnuts. Holiday foods don’t have to be full of casseroles and salads; they can be kept simple. Roasted whole carrots with olive oil, fresh thyme and balsamic vinegar is an easy but elegant side dish, or combine sliced carrots with potatoes, onions, butternut squash, bell peppers and fresh herbs for a roasted vegetable medley.

Locally grown foods aren’t shipped thousands of miles, which reduces the carbon footprint, supports our local growers, and offers tastier, more nutritious food. When food doesn’t have to travel far, it can be picked ripe, and eaten soon after harvest, retaining more nutrients and flavor than food picked unripe and stored for a longer period. It’s a win-win!

Winter Squash with Rosemary and Garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil  

6 cups peeled and cubed winter squash (butternut or acorn)

2 teaspoons dried rosemary, or 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

⅛ teaspoon ground pepper

Preheat oven to 475°F. Wash hands with soap and water. On a large baking sheet, drizzle oil over squash cubes and stir to coat. Sprinkle squash with rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper, stirring to coat. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Stir and cook for another 5 - 10 minutes or until squash is fork-tender.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 110 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 5 milligrams sodium, 17 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein


Recipe adapted from Oklahoma State Extension


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Kim Daniels on Unsplash

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.