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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

A Nutrient-rich Casserole

You could say that Lucy Hiraoka was born to farm.

Her father bought Hiraoka Farms, an 8-acre farm in Waimanalo, in 1953, and it has been family-run farm since then.

Hiraoka and her family raise bok choy, choy sum, broccoli rabe and arugula, and grow sunflowers, dahlias and gardenias in season. She also sells beautiful anthuriums from Green Point Nurseries in Hilo.

Hiraoka says that farming is a full-time business. She has very little spare time as she sells at the Ala Moana Farmers Market Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, the Kailua farmers market behind Longs Drugs Thursdays from 5 to 7:30 p.m., the Fort Street Mall market Tuesdays starting at 6:30 a.m., and the Blaisdell Market Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

This column is dedicated to Hiraoka, her family and the thousands of small farmers in Hawaii who provide us with fresh produce. Support locally grown products!

This casserole is a wonderful combination of fruits and vegetables that goes well with just about any main entrée, and is a powerhouse of good nutrients.

POWERHOUSE VEGGIE AND FRUIT CASSEROLE

* 6 cups raw sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
* 6 cups sliced, unpeeled Gala apples
* 2 cups peeled, sliced carrots
* 1 cup small pitted prunes
* 1/4 cup orange juice
* 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
* 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with pinch of all-spice

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Layer half of the potatoes in bottom of pan, repeat with half of the apples, then half of the carrots and prunes. Repeat the layers with the remaining fruits and vegetables. Combine orange juice, orange peel, lemon peel, sugar and honey, and mix well. Pour over top. Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture.

Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil, and pierce with fork to allow steam to escape. Bake for about one-and-a-half hours, or until cooked through and fork-tender.

Makes about six servings.

Approximate nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 250
Fat: 1.5 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Sodium: 80 milligrams

Diana Helfand is the author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking.” heartychef@hotmail.com

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