Vitamin A in Abundance

It’s squash and gourd time again…and you thought it was just time to shop!  We’ve seen the pumpkins come and go. Did you eat any, or did you just let the fall colors get you in the holiday spirit?  Frankly, I think that overly large vegetables wearing armor, like pumpkins, and butternut or acorn squash, can be a bit intimidating to the busy, microwave popping super moms of today.  Because of my competitive spirit, it is my pleasure to tell you that they can be conquered, and they are well worth the fight because of the many, healthy treasures stored inside.

One of those treasures inside is vitamin A in abundance.  This multi talented vitamin is important for healthy eyes, skin and immune system. It is used to build and repair tissue, but it can also be used like a knight on a shiny white horse to swoop down with its sword to annihilate the freedom of free radicals.  In other words, it is one of the few known micronutrients which stops destructive atoms (free radicals) before they can damage cells.

So A it is a builder of things like eyes, and its source, beta carotene, is also a radical fighter. Picture a carpenter with a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other.  Obviously we need this guy on our side in the campaign to protect and advance our health.  Where can you get some?  Well, liver for one, but I prefer dark colored vegetables or fruit like carrots, butternut squash, cantaloupe, and the dark green leafy vegetables like kale and collard greens.

Getting into one of these vegetables may be what keeps you from cooking with them, and if that is the case, here are some good ideas to help you over the hurdle. First of all, many stores now carry trays of cubed butternut squash already freed from its armor and ready to just dump in pan for cooking. That is the easy way to go, but I can testify from experience that going from a hard shelled squash neophite to a savvy slicer is not such a hard journey if you will just give it a chance.  I have a video showing how to take apart a butternut squash, and if you can follow it and practice a few times, every other squash will be a piece of cake.  BTW, I buy butternuts which are as straight as possible, more like vitamin capsule shapes than one with big hips. With these you can easily ditch the vegetable peeler that you see in the video and cut off the ends, rest it on a cutting board, then cut down from the top to the bottom with a sharp knife to remove the skin in strips.  Then I cut it in half right where it starts to show some curve because that is where the seeds are.  Watch the video to see what to do then.

Some other great sources are spinach, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, orange colored squashes, cantaloupe, and red bell peppers. I hope you take the time to learn how to get to all of this great nutritious vitamin A to benefit your eyes, skin, and your immune system!

This week’s menu features Butternut Stir-Fry and Sweet Potato Pie to get you going. And then for the morning, Cranberry Breakfast Soup Smoothie for breakfast features cranberries, spinach and carrot juice, more colorful suppliers of vitamin A.

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