CREAMY SQUASH, MUSHROOM & CHARD BAKE – MAIN

This creamy vegetarian bake is proof that comfort food need not be bad for you.  I replaced dairy cream with almond cream (available from health stores) which makes this dish suitable for vegans or those following a plant-based, dairy-free lifestyle. I did include some parmesan cheese to serve, but you can leave it out or sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts for some additional texture or some nutritional yeast for a “cheesy” flavour.

We can be so used to the ‘meat & two veg’ formula that we tend to consider vegetables on their own, as an insufficient main meal. But adding shiitake mushrooms (or brown / portobello / chestnut mushrooms) provides a meaty texture and the addition of almond cream makes this dish more satisfying than you might think.

Mushrooms like shiitake can be hard to find but they’re incredibly nutritious and have been used for centuries in eastern traditions for their medicinal qualities. Shiitake mushrooms have been scientifically proven to help fight obesity1, support immune function2, inhibit the growth of cancer cells3 and support cardiovascular health4. They also provide vitamin D (something we are severely lacking in the northern hemisphere at this time of year!) and have antimicrobial qualities that can help to fight infection.

The recipe serves two people as a main course but you can stretch it to four servings if you want to use it as a side dish served with either Puy lentils or some roast chicken.

(serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small-medium squash (I used a coquina squash)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin raw coconut oil* or olive oil
  • 125g shiitake mushrooms (or chestnut / brown mushrooms)
  • 150g rainbow chard, stalks removed and chopped finely, leaves torn in half
  • 300ml almond cream (I used Ecomil Cuisine)
  • 1 organic low-salt stock cube (I used Kallo Organic Mushroom Stock Cube)
  • 3/4 pint boiling water
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
  • 2 sage leaves, chopped finely
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp grated parmesan to serve

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C / Gas Mark 4 / 400F.
  2. Peel the squash, cut in half and then slice into half moon shapes, removing the seeds. Arrange the squash onto a roasting tray, add the garlic cloves (you don’t need to peel them) and drizzle with a teaspoon of oil. Season and transfer to the oven. Cook until tender (about 25 minutes).
  3. While the squash is in the oven heat the remaining oil in a cast iron skillet or pan over a medium heat. Brush any excess dirt from the mushrooms, and slice them into chunky pieces and lay them into the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes before turning and then add the rosemary, thyme and sage. Cook for another minute.
  4. Pour the boiling water and 200ml of the almond cream into the pan with the mushrooms, add the stock cube and stir. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. When the squash is ready, remove the roasting tray from the oven and leave aside to cool slightly. Remove the garlic cloves and gently squeeze the softened garlic bulbs into the pan with the mushrooms and almond cream (be careful that the skin from the garlic does not fall into the pan). Discard the skins.
  6. Take a lasagne or pie dish and arrange the chard stalks and some of the leaves on the bottom. Arrange a third of the squash on top of the chard and then pour half the creamy mushroom sauce over the top. Repeat 2 more times and then pour the remaining 100ml of almond cream over the top.
  7. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 30 minutes until bubbling and slightly browned on top.
  8. If adding parmesan cheese, remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle over the grated parmesan and place back into the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted slightly. Remove from the oven and spoon the bake onto serving plates. Enjoy!
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Servings Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Per half serving as a main course 439 24.6g 7g 40g 11g 4g
Per 1/4 serving as a side dish 110 6.2g 1.8g 10g 2.8g 1g

 

  1. Handayani, D., Chen, J., Meyer, B.J. and Huang, X.F. (2011) ‘Dietary Shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes) prevents fat deposition and lowers Triglyceride in rats fed a high-fat diet, Journal of Obesity, 2011, pp. 1 doi: 10.1155/2011/258051.
  1. Dai, X., Stanilka, J.M., Rowe, C.A., Esteves, E.A., Nieves, C., Spaiser, S.J., Christman, M.C., Langkamp-Henken, B. and Percival, S.S. (2015) Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) mushrooms daily improves human immunity: A Randomized dietary intervention in healthy young adults, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 34(6), pp. 478 doi: 10.1080/07315724.2014.950391.
  1. Fang, N., Li, Q., Yu, S., Zhang, J., He, L., Ronis, M.J.J. and Badger, T.M. (2006) Inhibition of growth and induction of Apoptosis in human cancer cell lines by an ethyl acetate fraction from Shiitake mushrooms, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12(2), pp. 125–132. doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.12.125.
  1. KABIR, Y., YAMAGUCHI, M. and KIMURA, S. (1987) Effect of shiitake(Lentinus edodes) and maitake(Grifola frondosa) mushrooms on blood pressure and plasma lipids of spontaneously hypertensive rats, Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 33(5), pp. 341–346. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.33.341.

 

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

Change Your Health Direction: Week 5

We’re now over 5 weeks in to our Change Your Health Direction campaign. Delightfully, we can confirm that hundreds of you are still active in the programme, losing weight or quitting smoking with the support of our colleagues in pharmacy.   Well done for sticking with it!! Only 3 weeks left to reach your goals.

avrilOur resident CYHD expert, Avril Reilly, Pharmacist in our Governey Square branch, is back this week with an update, this time focused on a particular range of products that are making a significant difference to her CYHD participants…

‘I have mentioned on previous occasions that some of our CYHD participants are using two great Irish products from True-Life to help them along their weight loss journey – Heart Up and Shake Up. Heart Up is a low GI wholegrain barley which delivers high levels of fibre and beta-glucan and it has been scientifically proven to both lower cholesterol and reduce blood sugars and in doing so it helps to sustain energy, fill you up and prevent cravings. It comes in three varieties; blueberry, red berries and original and a scoop of the product can be conveniently added to porridge, soups, salads, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes etc. A very worthwhile product and we are receiving excellent feedback from those who are using it regularly. Definitely worth a try!!

During the first couple of weeks of the CYHD weight loss program I had been noticing that some of the participants were not eating regularly as they were on the go and found it difficult to bring snacks with them to keep them going in between their main meals. I recommended that they try True-life Shake up as it provides a balanced, convenient snack that they could take anywhere with them and as it contains protein it helps to sustain energy and maintain balanced blood sugars. This daily protein shake also helps to maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. It comes in three delicious flavours; strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. As it is sweetened with the natural sweetener stevia it won’t upset blood sugar balance, and it is packed full of goodness – even the protein it contains is 100% Irish whey protein from outdoor grass fed cows! It is so much more than a protein shake as it is also high in calcium, low in fat, gluten free, high in fibre and contains 100% RDA vitamin D! The participants who have been using this product have been finding it excellent and even though it is not a weight loss product it has really helped them throughout the past number of weeks on the program and several of them have mentioned that they plan to stay on it long term as it is very affordable and the benefits are outstanding!!’

Fantastic advice as usual from Avril in Carlow; keep it up!!