Don’t squash using imagination with veggies

Health & Fitness Columnist

I find it hard to believe that I am writing the August column. I feel like I just started to write about all the yummy and healthy fresh produce that can be found in the summer months in Georgia and now we are embarking upon the end of the summer. Where did it go? And is it really time to start thinking about going back to school?

But before we have to say goodbye to summer, I wanted to end my series with more healthy, nutritious and for the most part easy recipes the whole family can assist in making.

One of the vegetables that I mentioned in July that is in season right now is squash. Squash is one of those vegetables that you see on the grocery store shelf or at the local farmers market, but you just don’t know what to do with it. Well, there is plenty that can be done.

As I mentioned last week about cutting up potatoes into sticks to make baked potato fries, you can do the same with squash. You can simply cut them up, spray with olive oil spray and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes (or 400 for about 10 minutes). To add some crunch to the squash fries, you can dip them into beaten eggs and coat with panko bread crumbs and back at 400 for about 10 minutes. This can also be done with eggplant, zucchini or onions.

Another fun thing to do with kids — cut the squash into rounds and top with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and bake at 400 for about 8-10 minutes (this can also be done with eggplant and zucchini).

A similar dish to make with the help of the kids is layered vegetable lasagna. Alternate layers of sliced squash (eggplant, zucchini work too), ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 375 for about 50 minutes.

A yummy and easy breakfast to make that includes squash; add one cup of grated squash to 10 beaten eggs and fill muffin tins ¾ full, top with cheddar cheese and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Everyone can have their own individual squash omelet.

A sneaky way to get vegetables into baked goods is by swapping half the oil or butter a muffin recipe calls for with shredded squash or zucchini. This will add vitamins and fiber into your muffins and no one will know the difference.

So, as you can see summer vegetables are not only healthy and nutritious, but fun and easy to cook with. I highly recommend that you try one of these recipes with your kids and make cooking not only fun but show them how you can add vegetables into their diets without sacrificing taste and yumminess.

There are so many ways to incorporate fresh and healthy ingredients into your recipes, you just need to be willing to try new things and remember that the more you involve your kids in the cooking process, the more they are likely to try new things, too.

Dr. Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children (5-year-old twin sons and a 2-year-old daughter).