Weeks 14 & 15 Weigh-ins…Hot Damn, I love you people!!!

Since my last post, 14 days ago…

First let’s address that. 14 days is my largest gap in posting since this started. Those of you who are not from Wisconsin, and maybe even not from Northern Wisconsin, might see that gap and think, “Well, this blog idea was good while it lasted, but we all knew he was gonna run out of steam eventually.” And honestly, I cannot blame you for thinking that. Do you blame a puppy for peeing on the floor? Do you blame a kindergartener for not completing their calculus homework? Do you blame your wife for maxing out your credit card on Black Friday? (I don’t have this issue, because I am blessed in my match. My cousin, Brian, doesn’t have this problem either, but I understand his wife does have to worry about her husband.) Do you blame Al Gore for taking credit for inventing the internet? (Nod of respect to my father.) The answer to all those questions is a resounding “NO.” And why is it a “no?” Because they don’t know any better. (All my feminist friends, especially Ann and Claudia, and Rachel and Michelle and Ellen and…well all my friends with breasts…and Marcus. Relax! The Black Friday thing was a joke for cripes sakes. I just got out of the hunting camp. What’d you expect?)

So those of you who are thinking I’m off the blogging thing because of my 14-day gap in posting, are those same people, like my friend, Justin, (actually, I guess I need to tell Justin to calm down about that Black Friday credit card thing, too) who didn’t believe that people would drive on frozen waterways in the winter to cut down their commute times in the winter. (Tell them Justin.) You just don’t understand the culture of Northern Wisconsin. One of my favorite college professors at UW-Stevens Point once said, “It wasn’t until I moved to Wisconsin, that I met someone who could both hunt¬†and read.”

To sum up, the last 14 days coincided with the 9-day gun deer hunting season here in Wisconsin. I am 39 years old and this was my 30th year deer hunting. Since I couldn’t legally carry a gun till I was 12…you can start to get a glimpse into the cultural significance of deer hunting in Northern Wisconsin. I’m certainly not going to violate that by writing a blog post about healthy living and weight-loss in the middle of it. Feels like the ghosts of dead-deer-hunters-past would come and push me out of my tree stand if I did. (I wasn’t sure how to punctuate “dead deer hunters past,” so I used the hyphen/dash in a nod to my English department, who engaged in a lively debate on the hyphen/dash duality just prior to leaving for hunting camp. ūüôā )

So why do I love everyone? Because everywhere I went for the last two weeks, I received non-stop positive feedback from everyone. Here is a list of places I got positive comments for my new body:

  • pharmacy
  • hunting cabin
  • neighbors hunting cabin
  • near a stand in the middle of the woods by a corn pile
  • doctor’s office
  • post office
  • movie theatre
  • local supper club
  • local Kiwanis meeting
  • hallway outside my office
  • in my office
  • in the teachers’ lounge
  • in the hallway outside my office again
  • at my parents house for Thanksgiving
  • at the Physical Therapy place I lived at between 2008-2010
  • at a meeting in the Board of Education office
  • In the hallway outside my office again
  • in an email
  • in a Building leadership team meeting
  • all over this blog
  • at my home, every time my dietitian, wife, partner or lover looks at me.

That is a lot of positive attention. And since just about anyone who knows me really well will tell you, at the end of the day, I suffer from massively low self-esteem. (people who know me kind of well think I have massively high self-esteem, but they haven’t been able to see that is just a defense mechanism) (so know you know how well you know me, depending on whether you think I have low or high self-esteem) (though I think I can accurately predict at least two people whose initials are ER and MH, who actually are thinking as they read this that they know me even better than I know myself and that the low self-esteem thing is the real front for what is, in¬†reality, a massively inflated ego. Alas, who’s to say who’s right?) Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter if I have low self-esteem or high self-esteem. Because, either way, I am super motivated by attention and positive praise from others!! Always have been; probably always will.

So when each of you, whether you read this or not, take time out of your day to comment on my appearance in a positive way…I go through the roof. I love it. I makes me feel great! And it makes me want to keep doing it so that I keep getting that positive praise.

I’m sure some education expert out there will read this and comment on the need to find intrinsic motivation for my healthy choice, to which I will say, “Pszszswwwwako;hsdljfahs!!” (Is that how you type a¬†raspberry?) Seriously, if I didn’t have intrinsic motivation for doing this, I wouldn’t have started it in the first place. The whole point is that the extrinsic feedback from others is doing a massively powerful job of reinforcing the intrinsic reasons I already have. And I can’t THANK YOU enough. That’s why “I love you people!!”

So I did step on the scale twice in the last 14 days. Last Wednesday, I weighed 338.2 and today I weighed 337.4. Down 1.6# and 0.8# respectively and a total of 2.4# over the fortnight. Since that time period includes 9-days of deer hunting, where I ate, just to name one thing, fried pork sausage or bacon for every breakfast, and Thanksgiving, I am more than satisfied that I just kept going down.

My BMI is now 43.7, so I’m officially 60% of the way to my goal of a 40 BMI in just 15 weeks. I have 37 weeks to go to accomplish the remaining 40% ūüôā We all know at this point that I am going to make it. So, what’s next?

Stay tuned for the next post to see the new goals…


Goulash…It’s a “Family Recipe”

The weekend after Thanksgiving is my own; Chad is deer-hunting and I have 3 days to myself. Do I go to a Chippendale’s show? No. Do I participate in the increasingly-crazy and time-consuming ritual of Black Friday Shopping? Definitely not. Do I get a mani-pedi? Never. So what exciting luxuries do I indulge in when alone? I make food that Chad doesn’t like. Unfortunately, it’s even less naughty than you can possibly imagine. I don’t bake cookies or cakes, or spend hours making fudge or other treats. I make my families goulash recipe. That’s the big event. And as you can tell by the ingredient list below, it is NOT an authentic, ethnic recipe.

  • 1# Ground beef
  • 7 oz Elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 cans Alphabet soup
  • 1 tsp dried, minced onion
  • For some reason, I ALWAYS eat pickles with this, though it is a very salty dish already (check out the nutritional info!)

    Nutrition analysis courtesy of Myfitnesspal.

In case you would like to try this, there are basically three steps:

  1. Brown beef and drain.
  2. Cook pasta and drain.
  3. Mix all ingredients together until blended and hot.
    –This is not a secret family recipe: you can Google “goulash” and “ABC soup” and get many different versions of this recipe…perhaps you have even had something like this before!

My favorite comfort food. Quick, easy and cheap to make.

I have eaten this ever since I can remember, and it is very much an emotional favorite of mine. I remember coming home from college on the weekends and eating HUGE platefuls…it’s one of those foods that I never get enough of, regardless of whether I am actually full! Chad will not eat it for a few reasons. First, he has an aversion to most “hot dishes” or “casseroles,” depending on your geographic location. Second, he hates ketchup, so this goulash, which has a whole cup, is a non-starter for him.

When I got married and was trying to do little things to make my meals healthier, I tried some changes. I tried replacing the pasta–usually Creamette brand and “white,” vs the new whole wheat pastas that are available. I also tried to replace the ketchup, and used fresh onions instead of the dehydrated, minced version. However, any alteration changed the flavor too much, and since I wanted to keep the same taste, now I always make it the “old fashioned way.” (Especially since it’s only once a year!)

Served with the required pickles. The vegetable is either squash or Brussels sprouts, which I also “indulge” in while Chad’s away.

I have had “Fish Sticks to Sushi” meals that are similar to a goulash but had higher-end ingredients and were prepared in a fancier way, such as stroganoffs and bologneses, and countless other soups and stews that are loosely related to the term “goulash.” But this dish will remain as much of a favorite to me as the proverbial “Grandma’s apple pie.” So when Chad trudges off into the woods and I am on my own for dinner (and lunch!) for a few days, I take a break from putting up the holiday decorations to indulge in a once-a-year memory.

What’s in a Pound?

Though the exact number probably fluctuates per person, it is estimated that 3,500 calories=1 pound. This means that for every pound of body weight lost, 3,500 calories have to be burned, and in order to burn those, you need to eat fewer calories. A common example is that to lose a pound over a week, you would need to cut 500 cal per day: 7 days  X 500 calories cut = 3,500 cal (1 pound.) Chad has done much more than this. He commonly loses 2-4 pounds per week:

  • 2 pounds per week lost = 7,000 calories burned (and therefore NOT eaten.)
  • 3 pounds per week lost = 10,500 calories burned (and therefore NOT eaten.)
  • 4 pounds per week lost = 14,000 calories burned (and therefore NOT eaten.)

Over the course of 40 by 40, he has lost 42.8 pounds. He has burned approximately 149,800 calories! This also means that over this time, he has worked on a 149,800 calorie deficit for food, and/or burned extra calories through exercise.

Since the calorie is a bit of a foreign, abstract concept, here are some illustrations to show what he’s burned–incinerated, actually! (Each of the examples below are approximately 149,800 calories)

  • 998 Twinkies
  • 125 Large buckets of movie theater popcorn
  • 293 Quarter Pounders with Cheese
  • 960 Cups of veggie chili (60 gallons!)
  • 492 Salmon and avocado rolls
  • 156 Pints of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream (It’s technically 4 servings per pint, remember, so that’s 624 servings.)
  • 453 Subway 6″ sandwich: turkey and ham with cheese
  • 1,426 Bananas
  • 2,538 Ears of corn on the cob

Since fat is stored energy, the way to get rid of it is to “burn” it. Chad could make quite a campfire with what he’s burned so far; soon it could be a bonfire!

“Constant Vigilance!”

[Can you identify the literary quote that I have stolen as the title for this post?]

We have had quite an interesting few months. If you have been reading Chad’s posts regularly, you already know how he is attacking this project. His weight loss has been quite incredible and consistent, so much so that we have had to reassess his calorie goals…to give him MORE to eat!

He never reaches his upper calorie limit, his “weekend goal” for calories, so we didn’t change that one. However, his lower, stricter, “weekday goal” was what we changed: from 2160 to 2410 calories per day. We did this because his weight loss was actually getting to be too much for our comfort level. It is generally recommended to lose no more than 2# per week for healthy loss that is more easily maintained over the long-term than a drastic loss. Chad has lost 4 pounds per week over the last 4 weeks! (Check out the BMI Tracker on the right side of the main page to see how his BMI has been dropping like a rock!) While this gets him closer to his goal, we both want to make sure he gets the calories and nutrition he needs. We want him to build muscle and burn fat, not destroy protein along with a little fat, which happens with a weight loss that is too fast. (One of my pet peeves, it’s WAY bigger than a peeve, actually, are fad diets. These include anything from so-called “cleanses” and detoxes to Atkins, Ideal Protein, and any diet that eliminates a certain group of foods. I’m sure I will say more about this another time.) So it goes without saying that I want Chad’s loss to be, what we call in the RD biz, “at an appropriate rate.”

So WHY is this happening? I know many people might scoff at this concern, especially we women, who would be working hard all YEAR to lose this weight. But it’s worthwhile to take a look at what’s happening. As you may know, we are using myfitnesspal.com to help track his diet, exercise, weight, etc. It has a feature that helps you set your calorie goals depending on how much you exercise and how much weight you want to lose per week. (To its credit, myfitnesspal has a 2# per week goal as the maximum rate of weight loss, and recommends 1# per week.) Chad originally had 2# per week as his goal, and we have now changed it to 1.5# per week. This website/app is a tool like any other; we have to use it responsibly, so it is completely appropriate, and in fact, responsible, to reassess occasionally to be sure the settings (and calories eaten and burned) are as accurate as we can get them. As I have said before, this website is the most accurate and trustworthy as any I’ve found, but it is on Chad and I to be vigilant about all aspects of his health, regardless of what a website might state. Another aspect that may be at work here is his complete commitment to both food and exercise. He works out 5-6 days/week on average (I often have to encourage him to take a rest day, just to help him rest and heal up) and has had just a few days where he has slightly splurged. Even on those days, however, I wouldn’t it “falling off the wagon.” It is my suspicion that most people take things a bit slower than Chad has these last few months, (which is completely acceptable, given the goal of 1-2# per week of weight loss,) and that might be why he has been flying past the 2#/week mark. Lastly, we also watched to see what happened over the course of a few weeks. For example, there was a weekend when Chad was at the family cabin and with hiking, hunting and chopping wood, it was estimated that he burned 3,800 calories in just 2 days! If he would have lost 4# that week and 1-2# for all other weeks, then we would not feel the need to make this change, but when saw the pattern developing, we decided to make the change.

So we have done what anyone working towards any goal should do. Take a look at the progress as it relates to the timeline. Look at the variables involved, the things that are working and the things that are not. Then look ahead at what might be changing and be realistic about how your plan might have to change. [We have already had discussions about the hunting season, which does involve a lot of hiking, but also eating and drinking. After that the holiday season gets into full swing, plus we are in the short dark days of winter, and snow and ice are on the way.] As we go forward, we will continue to look at all the data we can access in order to make the best plan for the time in order to achieve our overall 40 by 40 goal.

“Constant Vigilance!”

Week #13 Weigh-in…and I don’t even know who I am anymore!!

So I stepped on the scale at 339.8 today.

Pretty amazing really. The last time I can say for sure that I was in the 330s was early in 2001-02 sometime. So, after a decade at over 340, most of that over 360, I am back to a weight that would likely show up on an NFL roster. (I talked about that last week; just so you are all aware, NFL rosters are like football rosters at every level…they have absolutely nothing to do with reality. When I played high school football, I was routinely listed 20 pounds heavier than I actually was. When I played college, initially I was listed at about 30 pounds more than I actually weighed. Then when I finally got to be as big as the coaches told me they wanted me, they listed me a 15 pounds less than I weighed. If anyone believes that BJ Raji actually weighs less than 340, I can happily tell you, “No F-ing way.”)

This means that I lost another 3.7 pounds this week. My BMI is 44.1. I have lost 41.2 pounds and 11% of my body weight in 13 weeks. I have reduced my BMI from 49.4 and am 56% of the way to my goal of a 40 BMI. All of that is super exciting and I am so grateful for all of the help from my beautiful wife, awesome family, and dedicated readers/commenters. I owe all of you my life…at least a portion of it.:)

However, and this is the don’t know who am I part, my dietitian and I are concerned with the increased speed of my weight loss. On a weekly basis, I have lost 3.8, 2.8, 4, 4, 4.5 and 3.7 pounds in each of the last 6 weigh-ins. Since my weight-loss goal is 2 pounds a week, I am NOT meeting my goal. Many people will be thinking, yes you are. You are exceeding the goal.

However, this isn’t like other attempts I have made. My goal isn’t just to lose weight. It is to get healthy, trim off as much excess weight as I can, and sustain the changes for the rest of my life. I am worried that I am taking off too much too fast and that I will not be able to sustain it over the long haul. So we, my dietitian and I, have made what I would previously consider to be a radical decision…that now seems completely rational to me.

We are revising my daily calorie goal UPWARDS! Because of the weight loss, my daily calorie goal had crept down to 2160. That was supposed to have me lose 2 pounds per week, just ahead of the 1.5#/week I needed to meet my “40 by 40” goal. Since I am exceeding that by quite a bit, losing 16.2 pounds in just the last 4 weeks, we have moved my goal up to 2410 calories/day. The formulas myfitnesspal.com uses suggest this should have me losing 1.5#/week. (Michelle thinks it will likely reduce my weekly loss from the 4#/week I’ve been experiencing to about 3#/week.) We’ll see what happens.

Thanks again for the follow, and it should be an interesting week. For those of you not from Wisconsin, we have deer hunting approaching this weekend. 600,000 hunters with large rifles will stalk the woods, and I will not eat well and drink too much. We’ll see if the woodsy activity will counteract the impact.

Be careful out there!!

Metabolism vs Meals

For the last few months Chad and I have had many conversations about his changing diet and the many ways his life and body are changing as a result. [One thing I often notice is that when people talk about their health and nutrition, they get bogged down in details and make things more elaborate and complex then they need to be. (Examples: Raspberry ketones and fruit cleanses, vs eating fruit and vegetables!)] Two topics that we have been discussing lately are metabolism and meals, and how they affect Chad’s success.

A topic that often comes up, not only between Chad and I but with others I talk to, is metabolism, and how it impacts your weight. It is important to note that this is a very complex issue: “metabolism” involves chemical and physical processes the body performs to keep you alive, from digesting food to eliminating drugs and toxins from the body to building muscle and “burning” fat. In everyday conversations, however, people tend to be concerned with the speed of metabolism as it relates to weight. There is very little that is known about why some seem to have a faster metabolism than others, and there are so many factors involved that you can cite very few hard and fast rules about¬† metabolism. Is Chad changing his metabolism with his weight loss? There are a couple points to be made here:

  • We do know that leaner people have a faster metabolism. Chad has always been strong, but his decreasing percentage of body fat (plus some new muscle he has built with his exercise) will help boost his metabolism. This means he actually requires a bit more energy (calories) with a lean body instead of his former self. (Seems a bit counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?)
  • Also, we don’t know how many calories his leaner body “earns” him, but since he is eating roughly the same amount of calories since the beginning of 40 by 40, it might help explain why he has not had a plateau effect. This gets to the difficulty in talking about boosting your metabolism–we have very few ways to quantify this. Unless we get a workup done to measure our basal metabolic rate which is hardly ever done, we have no way of knowing if we have changed it. But this is the point, who cares? We have not started this project to affect his metabolism, nor have any of my patients ever mentioned this as a goal. If Chad is eating healthier foods, exercising more, and losing weight, (all of which he is,) then the specific rate of his metabolism does not concern me. And while this an interesting topic to discuss for many reasons, it cannot be answered without a prohibitively large about of cost, equipment and expertise.

The second topic is the one that I think is the most important, since we can control it and change it; our meal pattern. Chad’s daily meal pattern was quite horrible; he would have breakfast occasionally, and often it was greasy, fatty or sugary. He would often skip lunch, or eat anywhere between noon or three. In the evening he would overeat and/or choose unhealthy things. This can cause chaos in any body, but since Chad is also trying to keep his diabetes at bay, he should be even more concerned about not skipping meals, and even eat at the same times of the day.¬† With his new pattern, however, he has been able to resolve these flaws.

  • He eats breakfast…everyday! He eats at close to the same time everyday and has a mix of protein carbs and fat.
  • His lunch, while it does sometimes vary a bit depending on the time and content (especially if lunch is provided at a meeting,) is also light years ahead of what it was. He does eat it everyday, and again, the healthy items he eats now are way above his super-sized fast food lunch wolfed down in the car between meetings.
  • We try to have dinner together, so that pattern hasn’t changed too much, but the portion sizes are watched much more closely than before. Also, since he tracks his day, he knows when he has the freedom to have seconds of something.
  • Snacks. These are critical to his success, in my opinion. There are days he eats 2-3 little, healthy snacks to get him to the next meal. Knowing that he has something on hand that has been OK’d for him to snack on, he has the confidence to snack without making bad choices, and the time between meals is split up so he’s not starving when the next meal rolls around.

When we talk about meals and metabolism, its important to remember our bodies are designed to try and help us get through feasts and famines. Our bodies are quite quick to turn extra calories into fat; they are trying to help us out by planning ahead. (Can you be anthropomorphic about a body? Ironic.) However, in the culture we live in today, we have little to worry about in the famine department, but our bodies cannot change their patterns in a generation or two. Some claim that this starvation effect needs 24 hours to begin, but I tend not to agree, and think even the act of skipping meals can cause this phenomenon to some degree. Note that this is my opinion, from the anecdotal evidence I have seen working with patients with all types of meal patterns and health issues. I speak with patients who are morbidly obese, and some of them report confusion because they may eat less than others they know, but continue to gain weight. Sometimes these people admit to eating all their calories in on meal, or perhaps have one snack. I do acknowledge that some of these people may be editing what they tell me, which is highly possible, but I have seen, and this is backed up by data, that people who eat at least 3 meals a day tend to be a healthier weight than meal skippers. (Obviously, the amount of calories needs to be taken into consideration here.) Is this because the body “thinks” to itself, “Finally, dinner! I haven’t eaten since a half a doughnut 10 hours ago! I’m going to take some extra calories for storage (fat) because who knows when I’ll get fed again?” More research needs to be done to clarify these issues, so as much as it pains a scientist to say, there are many things we just don’t know yet.

So instead of spending time worrying about things that can have only a small affect on our overall health, such as questionable diets and supplements, or worse, giving up and blaming your “slow” metabolism, why not this: If we KNOW we should eat multiple meals per day, and we KNOW what a healthy diet is and we KNOW healthy snacking can help achieve a healthy weight, let’s work on achieving those things we know, so we can see actual improvement in our health.

Week #12 Weigh-in…and the whole new me!!

I think we can start to make some assumptions about where I am at in this journey. Here they are…

1. I am not going to suddenly go back to the person I was three months ago.¬†I think that just about anyone who has spent any time with me lately, will tell you that I have changed the way that I think about eating and¬†exercising. I routinely turn down or walk away from unhealthy choices without second thoughts. I almost never miss even one day a week of working out, even though my goals is 5 days/week. (In fact, I am starting to see the advent of some repetitive stress-type injuries, like knee and ankle pain.) I am fanatical about nutrition and calorie make-up of the foods that I eat. I don’t know if Michelle or any one at work could count for you the number of times I have asked, “Do you know how many calories are in a serving?” I am starting to think that this is the new me; and since the new me is looking fabulous, I am totally ok with who I am.

2. I have changed my metabolism.¬†I stepped on the scale this week expecting to see an increase in my weight. I was prepared for it, I was accepting of it, and I was planning to take steps to do better next week. I had a rough week at work, with limited time for proper eating. I had two nights out with friends. We had the election night binge we usually do, glued to the TV watching the returns come in. All of those things told me that I would be heavier this week. Instead, I had my biggest one-week loss yet. I know that telling people this has the¬†tendency¬†to be discouraging, as in, “Damn it! Losing weight is so damn fricken easy for Chad. I hate men. Give me a Snickers!!” or “He’s doing so good and I can’t so I quit! Give me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard!!” I really believe that the exercise is a huge part of what I am doing. I spent 343 minutes in the last 7 days working out with my heart-elevated. That’s almost 50 minutes a day, and I had 1¬†off day in there, so I actually worked out an average of 57 minutes over 6 of the last 7 days. This,¬†combined¬†with the eating right, is what is making the difference. Michelle will write more about¬†metabolism¬†over the weekend, I think, but the reality is “It is getting easier for me to lose weight, because it is getting easier for me to lose weight.” Lastly, I now weigh 343.5 pounds. That means I am still 5 pounds heavier than the heaviest Green Bay Packer. When you have lost 37# and still outweigh the heaviest player on your local NFL team, it doesn’t matter how much weight you lost that week; you are still damn fat!

3. I will meet my goal sometime early in 2013.¬†My BMI today is 44.5. I started on August 17th with a BMI of 49.4 (height adjusted) and my goal is to get to a 40 BMI by my 40th birthday, August 17th, 2013. I am now 52% of the way to accomplishing my goal in just 12 weeks. I have 40 more weeks to go and if the pace continues at present, I’ll hit a 40 BMI sometime around Feb. 1st.

4. My goal will not be enough to satisfy me, so I will need a next goal.¬†Whether I meet my goal in February, May, or in August; I need a new goal. Since #1 and #2 have established that at least some of these changes are either becoming habits or physiological modifications, I’m not likely to stop doing this suddenly and go back to weighing 404#. So, I am thinking about new goals, lots of goals. As I spend nearly an hour a day walking, my mind wanders over potential goals. Like for instance, losing two hundred and two pounds. That would put me at 202, which I don’t actually think I could do, at least not for very long. But cutting my body weight in half is an interesting goal. I think about the fact that I covered 5 miles in a little over an hour. That means that I likely could complete a half marathon in, what?, about 3 hours 30 minutes? May be that should be my new goal. Or I thought the other day that when I hit 300 pounds, I should by myself a reward. Like a road bicycle. I have a giant monstrous mountain bike now; one designed to handle the massive stress my¬†out-sized¬†body can put on it…but it is slow and feels ponderous. A sleek new road bike would be cool, right? If I had a sleek new road bike I’d have to ride it somewhere, no? Like maybe in RAGBRAI with my cousin Pat…or in a sprint triathlon with Michelle. Or since I am now such an accomplished walker, I attempt another crossing of the Grand Canyon with my father…now that we really know how to do it. See my¬†dilemma? I need some help. Please respond to this with a suggestion of what you think I should accomplish next, once I’ve reached 40 BMI. It can be any suggestion, really, a new one or a seconding of one I already mentioned. Once I have a list of things I’m interested in, I’ll put it to the blogosphere for a vote. Cool idea no?

In summary, things are going very well. BMI down 4.9 from start, lost 37.5 pounds. Feeling great, looking good. Enjoying life. Thanks for your continued support and have a great day.

The Easiest Squash

When autumn arrives, it’s time for squash! There are many different sizes and types, and they each have their own subtleties in flavor. However, most of us stick with the same few types; growing up, we always had acorn squash, split in half and roasted, then all we had to do was scoop out the delicious golden insides. However, squash does have a couple problem areas, which I think prevents it from being eaten more often. First, it can be hard to handle. Peeling a butternut squash can be a difficult, and even dangerous task, and even just splitting a squash in half takes a sharp knife and a bit of muscle. Second, it can take a while to roast in the oven, which many people just don’t have enough time for.
Well, I have a new favorite squash that resolves both of these issues…the Delicata Squash! I found it at the Madison Farmer’s Market, but now that I’m looking for it, I can usually find it in any grocery store, mixed in with all the other squash. I chatted with the person at the stand, which is always enlightening, and they recommended it for its butternut-like flavor, and for the fact you can eat the skin! Well, I just had to give it a try!

  • I roast my veggies at 425-450 degrees, and used 425 for this recipe.
  • I sliced off the ends, split in half, and easily scooped out the seeds with a spoon. Right away, you could see how much easier it is to slice than most squash.
  • I sliced the halves into half moons. Remember, because you can eat the peel, you don’t have to take the time to remove it!
  • To prepare, I just sprayed a pan with cooking spray, and sprayed the squash, too. You can use oil, but that tends to make the squash very soft, and I was hoping to have this squash hold its form.
  • Most squash is flavored with sweet spices, which I love, but it can tend to add sugar, and therefore calories. I was looking for a more savory flavor profile, so I sprinkled mine with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and chipotle powder for smokiness and a little spice. (The spice options are almost limitless!)
  • Because the slices are smaller than a half of a squash would be, it cooks faster. So depending on your oven, the temp you choose, and how brown and soft you want your squash, they are ready in 30 minutes or less!

If there are any leftovers, though the size of the squash gives a great amount for 2-4 people, it reheats very well. Nutritionally, it has vitamins A and C, and is a filling, fat-free side dish for only about 20 calories for 1/2 cup. Finally, because it can be for weeks to months, its easy to keep a few on hand!
For those who like squash but are intimidated by the time and effort it can take, try the Delicata variety…and always chat up your farmers market vendors for tips!