Glorious, thought Annie as she and LJ drove along highway 1 through Big Sur. The cerulean blue sky and the sun’s rays shimmering off the waves crashing into the California coastline was spectacular. Early fall in Northern California often felt like summer, and this hot, perfect day was a testament. After driving through a groove of ancient Coast Redwoods, they began to look for the Ali’s pumpkin farm.
“The entrance is coming up. Make a left turn here.”
Thump! Annie and LJ looked at each other with wide eyes. “What was that?”
“I’m going to pull over and find out.”
As they got out of the car, they heard the distinct laugh of their friend, Aafiyah.
“Hey, Hi Annie and LJ, glad to see you made it. Don’t worry about that pumpkin you squashed; it was on its way to the compost heap anyway.”
Annie smiled, “Good to know, and what a gorgeous day to visit you all.”
“Yes, we planned the weather,” she joked, “and our bountiful crops because we want to make sure that you have a great time while you’re here, so you’ll visit more often. How about you follow me up the road. Aadam is waiting to get you squashed.”
As they drove past a field, Annie noted the Spaghetti Squash. The variety had steadily grown in popularity in recent years due to its ability to mimic pasta. That is where the similarity ended, however, because it is high-fiber, low-calorie, nutrient-dense, and a good source of Vitamin C, B6, manganese, and beta-carotene, which pasta is not.
“We have had some delicious meals using spaghetti squash, so I hope we can bring several home today, especially since it freezes well after cooking. Did you know when you substitute it for pasta, you save up to 170 calories and 30 grams of carbs in a one-cup serving?”
“Yes, and I appreciate that you make sure we continue to look for ways to cut calories and still enjoy nutritious, delicious meals. I really like your Lemon Pesto Spaghetti Squash.”
“Thanks. Do you also like Acorn Squash because here is a field full of them. They are low-fat, but high in calories. That’s okay because most of their calories come from carbs, and approximately one-third of those carbs are fiber — about 9 grams per cup. I like to make Herb Roasted Acorn Squash, it is a savory side dish.”
“I like Acorn squash, but here is an entire field of my favorite, Sweet Dumpling Squash. Those little striped gourds are the perfect one serving dish. I especially like Roasted Dumpling Squash. It has a creamy, slightly sweet texture, and with only 75 calories, 6 grams of fiber, and zero fat, it definitely falls into the nutritious, delish category. The thing to know about all squashes are their superior amounts of Vitamin A, C, B1, and B6, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Sweet Dumplings are also high in beta-carotene, thiamin, and riboflavin.”
Directly ahead, they spotted a waving Aadam.
“Hi LJ and Annie, it is great to see you, especially since we know how much you like getting squashed,” he laughed.
“We have missed your sense of humor Aadam,” chuckled LJ and your squashes.”
“That’s right,” said Annie. “The drive down was beautiful, but driving through your farm is special. All of the hard work you two put into this place really shows.”
“Thanks,” he smiled. “We were disappointed that we had to cancel our annual harvest festival due to COVID19, so we are especially grateful for your visit. Let’s start over here at the ripest Butternut squashes. I could eat one of these every day. My favorite recipe is Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash. It takes a bit of work to prep them for cooking, but once you get the hang of cutting off the top and bottom and peeling the skin, it is well worth the effort. Butternuts are a good source of vitamin E and B6. An average size one provides 582mgs of potassium, more than a banana.”
After several hours of harvesting squashes and a delicious lunch, it was time to go.
“We had a wonderful time with you two today,” smiled Annie.
“We are glad you came. Don’t forget to take some of our Cinderella Pumpkins. I like their custard-like texture, and this year’s crop is especially sweet. Even though they are high in fiber, they make a great Pumpkin Ice Cream. Cinderella is one of the few pumpkins that are decorative and edible. Most pumpkins fall into one category or another, it is important to know the varieties and which are better for cooking.”
“Duly noted. Thanks for getting us squashed!” called LJ as they drove off.
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple introduced through the Healthy Healing Eats blog in January 2020. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.
Andrea Breaux is the Founder of Healthy Healing Eats. She writes about food-as-medicine and earth-friendly lifestyle practices. Find her weekly blog, recipes, and products at healthyhealingeats.com.