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Commissioner Scott Soares

Commissioner Scott Soares

Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Resources (DAR)

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    For a lot of us, the holiday season is associated with a time of delicious food and festive meals with friends and family. I think the abundance of holiday treats makes December one of my favorite times of year. Food has always been a big part of my family’s holiday traditions and it’s something I look forward to every year.

    This year I am particularly excited by the growing opportunity to buy more and more ingredients for my holiday meals from Massachusetts farms. Every time I turn around, there are more winter farmers markets, more year-round farm stands, and more holiday markets. Throughout the winter, farms stay open for business by selling things like delicious cheeses, meats, apples, cranberries, maple syrup, and eggs. Fresh, local ingredients are a good start to making a tasty and festive meal, especially a holiday meal! With so many tempting treats around the office and at home, it’s nice to know you can still maintain a healthy diet by taking the time to purchase fresh ingredients and find healthful recipes. Here are two of my favorite healthy holiday recipes using ingredients from Massachusetts’ farms you can find throughout the holiday season.

Squash Apple Casserole (by the University of Massachusetts Extension School Agriculture Program)

  • 2 ½ cups fresh winter squash, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 ½ cups cooking apples, pared and cut into ½ inch slices
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg

Alternate layers of squash and apples in an 8"x 8" pan, ending with apples on top layer. Sprinkle spices over top layer. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake in 350 degree F oven for approximately 45-60 minutes until squash is tender. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes to remove any excess liquid that might have accumulated. Cool slightly before serving. Serves 4.

Turkey Pot Pie

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  •  3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and diced
  • 2 cups shredded or chopped turkey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage (or 1 teaspoon dried sage)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 prepared pie crust 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in saucepan (or pour in oil) and cook chopped onion until tender. Stir in celery and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer until tender. Stir in turkey, parsley, sage and peas. Pour mixture into casserole dish. Top with pie crust and brush with egg white. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden.

Look here for information on how to find your local holiday foods. Get tips on having a healthy holiday season with outdoor activities on The Great Outdoors blog.

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