Good morning bloggies!
Happy humpday! How’s your week going so far? My morning kicked off with an excellent start with a small but amazing spin class. My participants (including Callie!) were troopers and worked so hard! Last night I was exhausted by the time I finally got home from work, ate dinner, and made my lunch. It felt so good to flop down on the couch and watch Glee. Did you watch too? What did you think?
I’ve got 5 new things to tell you about from Try Something New Tuesday 23, starting with…
1. Recipe of the Week: Warm Quinoa Salad with Tuna and Butternut Squash. I prepared this recipe earlier this week and it’s the main event in my lunch today. If you missed my post in August about the health benefits of quinoa, you can check it out here.
Just like the Tabbouleh Salad recipe that I posted yesterday, this is another easy-to-make, portable lunch that you can prepare a large batch of and eat throughout the week. It also uses seasonal produce (butternut squash!) and is fairly inexpensive to make.
2. A new juice: POM Wonderful. As I mentioned in yesterday’s giveaway announcement, one of my new product trials was POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice. (If you still haven’t entered my giveaway and you live in Canada, you still have until Friday morning at 6am. Click here to enter.)
I found the juice to be very sweet on its own, and would probably mix it with a little water if I were to drink it straight-up. Instead of doing this, I used 1/2 a cup of my precious POM juice to make a Peach ‘n POM Smoothie, and topped it with some pomegranate arils to make it look gawwwgeous.
The vanilla flavour of the protein was quite prominent, but it paired nicely with the POM juice and made for a very good post-workout smoothie.
3. A new vegetable: White swan squash.
The flesh was much more pale than a butternut squash, and was almost the same shade as the outer skin.
Last Tuesday I tried acorn squash, which looked very similar to the white swan squash above. (I really wish they would have printed this on the sticker, but yesterday I learned that white swan squash is in fact part of the acorn squash family. You’re probably thinking “Well obviously, they look almost identical.” But whatever… it was still a new thing, and that’s all that counts!)
Rather than stuffing it as I did with last week’s acorn squash, I made a Squash Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranate. Yep, it was a big day for all things pomegranate.
I realize there is a lot going on in the salad above, but the whole mix was quite interesting. The dressing was a recipe from the POM Wonderful website (see the link above). The pomegranate arils gave it a bit of sweetness and the roasted seeds provided a good crunch. The white swan squash tasted much more mild – almost bland – in comparison to a butternut or acorn squash, but it was still a nice addition. (In case you’re wondering, I plated the salad this morning before transferring it into a plastic container to take to work – that is why you see my blue table mat. Yes, you know you are a food blogger when you’re willing to do extra dishes in order to produce decent looking photos.)
4. A new shellfish: Mussels. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t a bit scared to try these. I’ve heard some bad horror stories about people who have eaten shellfish like mussels and oysters, only to become very, very ill afterward. I guess I did alright because I felt fine and haven’t collapsed – yet.
For the mussels trial, I used a recipe from MyRecipes.com for Steamed Mussels in Tomato Basil Broth. It didn’t seem like a very complicated recipe at all (hence the reason I chose it) and didn’t take long to prepare either. As the broth boiled I scrubbed the mussels and did the ‘tap test’ – apparently any mussels that don’t close after a few seconds when tapped are not safe to eat. Just to be on the safe side, I got rid of one or two that were even slightly open. Next I plopped them all into the tomato basil broth for a few minutes, which is all they need (according to the recipe) to cook.
I didn’t know this, but mussels are often referred to as “the poor man’s oyster.” This is understandable because they were ridiculously cheap in comparison to other seafood I’ve purchased in the past. Mussels are a source of protein, are low in calories, low in fat, are easily digested, and contain lots of vitamins and minerals including iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, zinc and vitamins C and B12. Also very interesting is that these little beauties use their shells to protect themselves and filter between 10 and 20 gallons of water per day. Cool, no?
The flesh of my cooked mussels looked like this…
…and the final product looked like this:
Not bad for a less-than-attractive shellfish, don’t ya think? I was very curious to find out what the meat inside the shells looked and tasted like. I’m a fairly adventurous eater, but rubbery textures aren’t really my favourite and this is what I was expecting. The result was that the meat seemed to take on the taste of the broth so much that all I could really taste was tomato. Also, for the amount of mussel shell that was in my bowl, the meat yield wasn’t very high. I read that for 1 mussel, about 30% of it is edible. I guess these little guys weren’t up to standard.
5. A new fruit: Figs. Call me naive, but I’ve never tried figs before – unless you count the traditional fig-filled Fig Newtons, which I haven’t touched since I was about 6. I remember my mum used to buy cookies and I’d raid our pantry for them all the time. If they were Oreos, Arrowroots, Chips Ahoy, or anything to do with fruit-flavoured creme icing, you could be sure that I’d have them demolished. Mum didn’t have to worry about Fig Newtons disappearing though – I really wasn’t a fan.
This trial didn’t have anything to do with cookies. I purchased a small basket of the figs above (which I believe are Calymirna figs because of their greeny-yellow skin and amber flesh, but correct me if I’m wrong) on Sunday, and quickly learned that they ripen very quickly. As per the instructions on this site, I stored them in the fridge to try to keep them as fresh as possible.
A few fun facts about figs:
- They pair nicely with yogurt, cheese, honey, juice, and red wine
- They are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium and manganese
- Figs grow on the Ficus tree, which is a member of the Mulberry family
- There are over 150 types
As per the many recipes that I browsed prior to this Tuesday, my little figgies were enjoyed with some Greek yogurt mixed with honey and vanilla.
The taste was surprisingly bland, perhaps because the figs were 2 days old and a little too ripe. However, I really liked the different textures. The skin was a little chewy, the flesh was soft and creamy, and the seeds had a nice little crunch to them. Next time I’d like to experiment with cooking them to see if the sugars caramelize and intensify the flavour a bit more. What do you think? How do you like to eat fresh figs?
Alright my dears, I’ve gotta zoom off to work! I hope you have a lovely day, and don’t forget to enter my POM Wonderful Giveaway if you’re a Canadian resident and haven’t done so already. Catch ya later!