Squash that IC Diet Boredom – Fall Dinner Recipes – Fresh Tastes by Bev
By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB
No doubt about it, eating the same old thing every day is boring, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why when we’re bored, we’re tempted to cheat on our diet. Doesn’t a mango and chili pepper salsa sound good? Or that chocolate cake? We don’t have to cheat on our diet or even book a fall vacation in the sunny tropics to break away from monotony at the dinner table. Right now there’s a bountiful supply of autumn vegetables in the markets… and they can perk up our dinner menus as well as beautifully decorate our holiday tables.
Colorful squashes star in hearty casseroles, aromatic soups or decadent desserts. Acorn squash, pumpkins, spaghetti squashes and others are all good sources of fiber and vitamins too. A single serving of any of the squash recipes below will give you 70% or more of your daily requirement for vitamin A. Vitamin A helps your eyes see in the dark. It’s also an important antioxidant that helps stave off the aging effects of free radicals. (I know I could sure do with a few less wrinkles…) More importantly for those of us with IC, an adequate supply of dietary vitamin A protects the body from infection and keeps tissues of the intestinal tract and bladder healthy. Served with home style breads, roasted meats, or as a stew ingredient, winter squashes create unending possibilities for delicious and nutritious cold-weather dinners. So without further ado, let’s introduce a collection of fall dinner recipes:
– – Main Course – –
Here is a unique marinade and glaze combination that gives ho-hum pork chops a succulent and moist texture while imparting a subtle salty-sweetness. Pork chops go well with winter squash. A hint of rosemary in this dish rounds out the meat’s flavor. Best of all though, this dish is completely lacking the bladder-burning fruit acids or vinegar that keep most marinades out of our kitchens! The trick is a unique chemical reaction that alters the meat protein, making it absorb moisture. The chops stay juicy and flavorful during cooking.
For the best flavor and texture, check the label and be sure the pork chops you buy are not “pumped up” with water and phosphates. (Fat keeps meat juicy. Consumers’ current preference for low-fat meats has led to cuts that are drier and tougher. To offset this problem, some meat packers have resorted to injecting low-fat meats like pork chops and chicken breasts with various substances to make them more juicy. These substances may or may not bother your bladder, but they will definitely affect the flavor and texture of the meat).
Boston Glazed Pork Chops
– serves 2
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 cup hot water
- 1/4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup dark rum or vodka
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. lemon extract
- 2 pork chops, medium thickness, trimmed
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- Combine ingredients for marinade in a plastic bag or a covered dish, mixing well to dissolve the salt and sugar crystals.
- Add the two pork chops, making sure they are covered with liquid.
- Place in refrigerator for 45 minutes- no longer.
- Remove pork chops, rinse well under running water, and pat dry with paper towels.
- Discard the marinade.
- Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes (Alcohol boils and evaporates at a lower temperature than water. Simmering will remove it).
- Meanwhile, in a skillet brown the pork chops in vegetable oil.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and cover.
- Reduce heat and cook until chops are thoroughly cooked.
- Turn heat to high under the skillet and pour the glaze into the skillet, scraping up browned bits and meat juices.
- As the glaze turns frothy stir the liquid with a spatula and turn chops in the liquid for a minute or so.
- Remove chops to a platter and serve. NOTE: You can vary the saltiness of the meat by increasing or decreasing the amount of salt in the marinade.
– – Wine – –
Ok, so you’re armed with your antihistamines and Prelief and you’ve managed to get your IC under fairly good control… so now you’re ready to be a bit adventurous this holiday season… perhaps you feel like trying a bit of wine with this pork dish? There are some excellent white wines out there that are low in sulfites. Sulfites have been added to wine for centuries to increase the shelf life. Sulfites (which also occur naturally in wine) can be problematic for people with IC, particularly those who tend to be allergenic because they may irritate the mast cells in our bladders and elsewhere. Although there’s no real way to know which wines are naturally lower in sulfites (many factors affect sulfite levels), at least we can avoid the ones that have added sulfites.
One good choice is Badger Mountain’s Johannisberg Riesling (only about $7.00 per bottle). It is wonderful served with pork and winter vegetable dishes. Riesling is fairly acidic as wines go, so you might want to use just a bit more antacids than you’d use with a chardonmnay, for instance. And be sure to check that it’s okay to drink wine while using your prescribed medications. One other tip– low-sulfite wine goes bad, so be sure to buy a recent vintage and drink it soon after purchase.
– – Side Dishes – –
Here are two a tasty side dishes that’s are wonderful accompaniments for pork or poultry. One word of warning– the first recipe is only for those who can tolerate cooked onions– which isn’t absolutely everyone. (Many IC people who cannot eat raw onions can get away with eating well cooked onions. Again, that may be a sulfite tolerance issue.)
Butternut Squash with Onions
– serves 3
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 c. white or yellow bulb onion, chopped in half-inch chunks (see note)
- 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 2-1/2 c. butternut squash, peeled and chopped in half-inch chunks
- 1/3 c. hot water
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 c. white wine (see note)
- Place the chopped onion in a colander and rinse well under running water.
- Drain for a moment.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, saut‚ the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion begins to brown, about 6 minutes.
- Add the squash and cook, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes.
- Dissolve the brown sugar in the hot water and then add the wine.
- Pour over the squash in the skillet and cover.
- Simmer covered until squash is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Uncover and cook while stirring another minute or so to evaporate the liquid.
- Spoon into a serving dish. NOTE: Rinsing the onion removes some of the troublesome sulfite compounds and frying (a higher temperature than boiling) removes others.
- You can make the recipe even more bladder-friendly by using green onions instead of bulb onions.
- The alcohol and most of the sulfites in the wine boils off during cooking.
- If you don’t have white wine on hand though, don’t substitute red wine (it has a lot more bladder-irritating histamine– which doesn’t boil off).
- You can substitute 1/4 cup light rum or vodka (no histamines) for the 1/3 cup wine, in a pinch.
Nutrition data per serving: calories, 152; total fat, 5 g.; saturated fat, 1 g.; vitamin A, 182% RDA (based on a 2000 calorie diet).
Bell Pepper and Squash Casserole
– serves 5
- vegetable cooking spray
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 2 c. red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. chopped chives
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. chicken broth– Health Valley Low-fat
- 1-1/4 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 3 c. spaghetti squash– cooked and drained
- 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (in cardboard can, not fresh- see note)
- Butter a 1-quart casserole or spray with vegetable cooking spray and set it aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add bell pepper, chives, and garlic; saute 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, basil, salt, and onion powder.
- Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until liquid is almost gone, stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat; stir in cooked spaghetti squash.
- Spoon mixture into casserole dish.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese if desired.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. NOTE: Not everyone can handle the Parmesan cheese, although the canned version is infinitely better than the fresh so omit it if you are particularly sensitive.
Nutrition data per serving: calories, 60; total fat, 2 g.; saturated fat, 1 g.; vitamin A, 70% RDA (based on a 2000 calorie diet).
– – Dessert – –
If you’re tired of pumpkin pies, here is a light pumpkin cheesecake. It’s smooth and creamy yet lower in fat and calories than your average New York-style cheesecake because it omits sour cream in favor of cottage cheese.
Light Pumpkin Cheesecake
– serves 12
- 1-1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (see note)
- 5 Tbsp. margarine (stick kind, melted)
- 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese
- 1 c. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
- 3 Tbsp. corn starch or all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 16 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened, at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1/3 c. evaporated milk
- 1-1/4 c. canned pumpkin
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- Mix graham cracker crumbs, margarine and brown sugar in a bowl.
- Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan.
- In a food processor or blender, process the cottage cheese until it is no longer lumpy.
- Set aside for the moment.
- In a bowl, thoroughly mix together the sugar, cornstarch, brown sugar and spices.
- Beat the spices and sugars into the cottage cheese.
- Beat in the softened Neufchatel cheese, eggs, and egg whites.
- Blend in the evaporated milk, pumpkin, and vanilla.
- Pour into crust.
- Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees F.
- Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. NOTE: Watch out for boxed graham cracker crumbs– they may have bladder irritating preservatives.
- It is much safer to make your own from graham crackers. Nabisco’s Low-fat Honey Grahams are a good bet.
- You can roll the crackers between sheets of wax paper with a rolling pin, or use a food processor to chop them into crumbs.
Nutrition data per serving: calories, 329; total fat, 16 g.; saturated fat, 8 g.; vitamin A, 127% RDA (based on a 2000 calorie diet).