Did you know that in many cultures, squash, beans and corn are grown together, eaten together and celebrated together, as they are staples for a well-balanced, nutritious diet?
Often referred to as the Three Sisters, when growing, the corn provides a trellis for the beans, beans add nitrogen to the soil, and the squash shades out the weeds. The ideal way these plants work together in the garden is a beautiful representation of how they work together in our bodies to provide well-balanced nutrition.
Corn provides gut-healthy fiber plus tons of vitamins and phytochemicals that help combat inflammation in the body. Meanwhile, beans are rich in protein and fiber, and squash yields antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and a host of carotenoids. Plus, when consumed together, these plant-based foods form what’s known as a complete protein, meaning they provide your body with all nine essential amino acids. Not only are these some of the most balanced, nutrient-dense ingredients on the planet, but they are also extremely versatile and work with a wide range of flavor profiles!
Check out this amazing stew recipe for a nutritious meal to warm you up as winter weather settles in!
Three Sisters Stew
1 large butternut squash or sugar pumpkin, about 2 pounds; or use pre-cut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion medium, chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bell pepper medium, green or red, cut into short narrow strips
14 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes canned, with liquid
2 ½ cups canned pinto beans drained and rinsed
2 cups corn kernels fresh or frozen
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 hot chili pepper fresh, seeded and minced; or substitute one
4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder or mesquite seasoning, add more to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, fresh, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Remove stem from the pumpkin or squash and cut in half lengthwise. Cover with aluminum foil and place the halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking pan. If your knives aren’t sharp enough, just wrap the pumpkin or squash in foil and bake it whole. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until you can pierce through with a knife, with a little resistance.
3. When cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds and fibers (clean the seeds for roasting, if you’d like). Slice and peel, then cut into large dice.
4. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
5. Add the pumpkin or squash and all the remaining ingredients except the last 2 and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. If time allows, let the stew stand for 1 to 2 hours before serving, then heat through as needed. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. The stew should be thick and very moist but not soupy; add additional stock or water if needed. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Scoop into bowls to serve. Enjoy!
Kerry is a licensed health and life insurance agent and owner of Midwestern Wellness and Insurance Agency. She has two bachelor degrees in sustainable agriculture and human biology as well as nearly ten years of experience in the wellness industry as a nutritionist in a clinical setting. She specializes in helping people with their Medicare needs and preventative health as they reach retirement. Source: www.vegkitchen.com/three-sisters-stew/