Roasted Delicata Squash Breakfast

Fall harvest is over and the winter squash can be seen everywhere you go. I’ve recently picked up a few new winter squash that I don’t normally used from the farm stand and really enjoyed this lesser used Delicata Squash.  I later learned that they often called it sweet potato squash because it has a mild and sweet flavor resembled the regular sweet potato. The skin is thin and is edible as well (which I found out later after i used it because I was lazy to peel the skin off).  So, I come up with this breakfast idea using the squash as an accompaniment.

roast-squash-egg-5180

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup sliced thin (1/3 inch) delicate squash (about half of a medium size squash)
2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of salt
3 medium sized eggs
1 tablespoon of Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon chopped scallion or chives (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit.
  2. While waiting for the oven to be preheated, laid the sliced squash on a baking pan, add in olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
  3. Place the baking pan in the oven, bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove and let it cool down a little. 1-2 minutes.
  4. In the same baking pan, arrange the sliced squash into a circular shape (about 4 inches wide) using your hand/chopstick/fork and keeping the center hollow. Keep layering the squash on top until you reach about 2 inches thick.
  5. Crack an egg and drop into the hollow center.
  6. Put it back to the 425 degree oven and finish baking for another 15 minutes.
  7. Serve it hot with some chive or scallion sprinkle on top; add with a pinch of freshly ground pepper and Sriracha hot sauce.

Rice Cereal/Rice Product: Yay or Nay ?

Since the Dartmouth college and consumer report published the research and article about arsenic in rice in 2012 and how infant exposure to the inorganic arsenic were among the highest had raised an alarm to the parent groups and pediatric health care providers. To this date, I still hear the same conversation between parents, doctors and dietitians.

As a pediatric dietitian, I’ve yet to see an infant with arsenic poisoning  came my way whether it be in the hospital or outpatient clinics. None the less, there’s some concern about inorganic arsenic in rice cereal/ rice products but since 2012, the infant cereal manufacturer has taken action to uses rice that has the least amount of inorganic arsenic for infant cereal and also provided other options of infant cereal such as Oats, Barley and Multi-grain.

BEWARE – brown rice cereal/brown rice has the highest amount of inorganic arsenic compared to regular rice cereal/ white rice. Same applies to organic baby formula which uses organic brown rice syrup -has also been tested with high level of arsenic content.

*So far, I only found Nature’s One Baby’s Only Toddler organic formula has a disclaimer that took action in filtering their brown rice syrup to an undetectable level of arsenic content.

What exactly is Arsenic ? Why does it matter ?

According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Arsenic is an element in the Earth’s crust, and is present in water, air, and soil. It occurs both naturally in the environment and as a result of human activity, including from erosion of arsenic-containing rocks, volcanic eruptions, contamination from mining and smelting ores and previous or current use of arsenic-containing pesticides. Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancers, as well as heart disease. The FDA is currently examining these and other long-term effects.

So is it still safe to provide rice cereal/ rice products to my baby and children?

Short answer is YES.  The latest data analysis conducted by FDA in 2014 shows that majority of the rice cereal averaged about 103 parts per billion and the new proposal to limit the total arsenic content in rice cereal is set at 100 parts per billion (same as the European commission).  If you provide your infant/young children with variety of foods and rice is not the only source of grains, you shouldn’t be worried.

There’s also a few ways to help reduce the exposure to high amount of inorganic arsenic if rice is the main stable (such as Asian communities).

  • Rinse the rice in large quantities of water until the water is clear.  This has been the practice of Asian culture. (As per FDA, rinsing will reduced about 16% of the inorganic arsenic content, but it also rinses off other fortified vitamins and minerals such as iron, thiamine and folate)
  • Cook rice in large quantities of water (6:1 to 10:1 ratio) – as in making rice porridge for the infant. Which is also a practice in Asian culture when they first introduce solids. (This will reduce about 43% of the inorganic arsenic content).
  • Chooses rice that is lower in arsenic content, such as Basmati, Jasmine and Sushi Rice. Here’s a chart published by consumer report on all the rice that they examine:  consumer-reports-arsenic-in-food-november-2012_1

Bottom Line:

  • It is still safe to provide rice cereal to your infant as long as it’s not the only source of solids.  Meat, fruits, vegetables are also a good first food options as well. If you are still worried, then choose Oats, Barley, or Multi-grain infant cereal.
  • Provide a variety of grains for your toddler and rice shouldn’t be the only grain in his/her diet. VARIETY is the key !!
  • Rinse and cook your rice with lots of water.
  • Breastfeeding your baby as long as you can. Recommended exclusive for the first 6 months and then up until one years of age.