Here is a simple meal you can enjoy in the summer and fall on the cheap. Dine on butternut squash, kale, egg, and watermelon, and enjoy the simplicity of a farm to table meal.
Please enjoy how this homesteader is getting back to his roots.
-Riley E. Carlson
Finding Health in Your Garden, Farm Market, or Grocery
By Mark McNaney
I couldn’t help thinking of my grandparents the other day as my wife and I shared a simple evening meal – lightly roasted butternut squash and kale topped with a poached egg – earlier this week. For dessert that night, we enjoyed a juicy, sweet seedless watermelon.
This was the same kind of simple, yet highly nutritious, meal that I had shared with my maternal grandparents when I would stop by to have lunch with them while attending high school.
I remember those meals with them fondly, as they would listen to Paul Harvey deliver the news and comment on the latest developments.
Those were simpler, and seemingly easier, times. There were no cell phones ringing, no alerts signaling a new email, no television channels beyond the basic CBS, NBC and ABC networks.
As my wife and I enjoyed our simple and tasty meal, I wondered too if the very simplicity of the food itself, purchased earlier in the week at a local farm market and nearby grocery, would have contributed years ago in some way to my grandparent’s long lives. We knew that the meal was a lighter fare that would help us lose weight,
but what was it in that meal that was so valuable in terms of contributing to our improved health and wellness?
Butternut Squash – Health Benefits
Certainly much more abundant in the Autumn, the butternut squash is available year-round in our area and easily stored in the cool air of a root cellar. Butternut squash is actually a fruit, though most folks think of it as a vegetable, and is related to the pumpkin. Known by it flesh-colored thin skin, it has a distinctively elongated, pear-like shape.
The butternut squash is full of vitamins – A and B-complex – and is rich in beta carotenes and fiber.
It has no saturated fats, so for those readers watching their cholesterol, it can be a staple in your diet. That said, the butternut squash’s seeds do have some oil. The seeds themselves can be roasted and make a delicious snack, similarly to its cousin the pumpkin seed.
The USDA reports that the low-carb butternut squash is a source of iron and magnesium, along with copper, phosphorus and calcium. This low-calorie fruit is an ideal source of anti-oxidants and is reported to have benefits in terms of skin and eye health.
Kale – Health Benefits
It should be noted that a cup of these greens, like collard greens or Swiss chard, will cook down to almost nothing. So eat plenty of kale without any fear. Low in calories and fat, kale is a source of Vitamin A and C, with lesser contributions in terms of calcium and iron. However, kale does have some dietary fiber value.
My wife and I LOVE kale and Swiss chard, and although they tend to be more of a Fall / Winter item, we are able to find them year-round. It may just take a little extra digging (no pun intended).
Poached Eggs – How to & Health Benefits
I’m not sure that my grandmother knew, or cared, much about cholesterol, but the way that I look at it is this – my wife and I ate two poached eggs. Although the chicken egg yolk does contain cholesterol, we limited our consumption to two eggs each. We are not likely to have more eggs in the next week, and besides these were poached, not fried, eggs.
Eggs are a source of protein, as well as calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. If you are looking to reduce your sodium intake, due to high blood pressure considerations, you could certainly forego the egg entirely or elect to have one egg (without the use of a salt shaker). I always have liked the taste of a little sprinkle of salt and pepper on my eggs, and I definitely noticed my wife as I reached for the shakers that evening. Moderation – everything in moderation. Who said that? It had to be Ben Franklin, or at least I attribute all proverbial sayings to him. Who knows? It may have been his wife who coined the saying. For the record, her name was Deborah Read-Franklin, except without the hyphen in those days.
Watch the perfect poached egg every time!
Watermelon – Health Benefits
What can I say about watermelon, other than it is difficult to find out of season, but a tasty, sweet treat when available at the market. I am fairly certain that in the leaner production months, that watermelons imported from Georgia or Florida or California can be found with some searching, but also at a slightly higher price too.
I am also fairly positive that my grandparents never had a seedless watermelon, but I am certain that they would have loved eating one without seeds!
True to its name, the watermelon is largely – WATER.
I read somewhere that it was over 90% water, which I believe. That said, the watermelon is a source of Vitamins A, B and C, and it also contains lycopene associated with the prevention of diseases.
Although I am told by a co-worker, the rinds are edible, but I think that I might try a batch of pickled watermelon rinds instead of canning bread & butter pickles the next time I get the notion to pickle something.
I am thinking fondly of my grandparents and missing them still. I have to think that their simple diets and the purity of their lifestyle were key to their long lives and abundance of wisdom.
They would have enjoyed the richness of the butternut squash-kale-poached egg dinner and watermelon dessert, and would have benefited from the low-carb, low-fat, nutrient-rich foods as my wife and I are this week.
And it would have cost them much less in the 1960s and 1970s when I stopped by their house for a quick lunch between 42-minute periods in high school. It was a good thing that they lived only one block from the school!
In what ways do you live simply and healthy? Did your parents live a simple clean lifestyle too? We’d love to know!
How will you get back to your roots?
Thank you Mark for sharing this piece with us. We encourage our readers to write to us and share their stories! Contact me and my team of very hard-working and talented editors here: [email protected]