Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes, and Collards – Oh My!
As an Extension agent with a blend of foods, nutrition, food safety, and newly acquired local foods responsibilities, I am always excited about encouraging folks to try new ways of eating locally grown foods. Foods available at the farmers market and local produce stands now include pumpkins, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, and much, much more. As long as the weather cooperates, there will also continue to be some tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and squash.
My most recent endeavor was encouraging our Cooperative Extension Advisory Committee members to taste two collard slaw recipes. Collard slaw, you say? Yes, survey results showed almost all of them would try it again and would like a recipe. Adding collard greens to the typical cabbage slaw creates a nutritious and different way to feed collards to your family. Yes, the collards are raw – no hot stove required. One recipe is a vegetable mixture tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. The second recipe is made with a creamy dressing of mayonnaise, sugar, and lemon juice. Both recipes can be found on our website by going to robeson.ces.ncsu.edu, clicking on “Health and Nutrition” on the left side of the page, and scrolling half way down the page to select the “Local Foods Recipes” link — http://go.ncsu.edu/localfoodsrescipes.
Pumpkin – a farm-grown, fruit-of-the-vine – has recently taken on a life of its own. It plays a starring role in many households from Halloween to Thanksgiving. We use pumpkins for decorating and eating. You can find all sorts of pumpkin recipes from savory to sweet, including soups, pancakes, breads, cookies, puddings, cakes, and muffins. Some may even drink pumpkin in a smoothie – yummy! One of my favorite pumpkin recipes came from retired Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, Rosie Jolicoeur. She always made the most delicious pumpkin bar with cream cheese icing. You may also try the traditional pumpkin pie or not-so-traditional pumpkin pudding, which is basically pie without the crust. You can even roast the seeds for a nutritious, delicious snack.
The same goes for sweet potatoes. They are versatile and can be used in so many recipes. I have served second-grade children sweet potato smoothies on many occasions. One of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes is oven-roasted. Roasting intensifies the sweetness and potato flavor. I have many favorites when it comes to sweet potatoes. My daughters would think I lost my mind and sense of tradition if I failed to serve Grandma’s Sweet Potato Puddin’ at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It is hard to beat a plain baked sweet potato. Don’t let your sweet potatoes and oven energy go to waste. Bake an entire pan full. Cool slightly, then peel or leave the peeling on. If peeled, dip the potatoes in a mixture of ascorbic acid, like lemon juice, and water to prevent darkening. Freeze in freezer zipper storage bags, pressing as much air out as possible when sealing the bags. With this accomplished, you can have sweet potatoes any night of the week by simply heating them up in the microwave or oven. With the business of the holidays ahead, don’t forget to fall into some great local fruit and veggie treats.
For more information, please contact Janice Fields, Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at Janice_Fields@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.