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Super Food for Fall: Winter Squash

20 J00000010UTC 2011

Acorn Squash

When you walk into your local grocery or wander through the farmer’s market this weekend, you’ll see bins full of winter squash. They look beautiful arranged on the dining room table or across the hearth, but they are also delicious and super good for you. Here’s a nutritional look at winter squash which includes acorn, butternut, hubbard, pumpkin, spaghetti, turban and delicata.

The super-feature of winter squash is carotenes— the darker orange you go, the more plentiful they will be. Both alpha- and beta-carotene (also found in carrots, cantaloupe, mango, sweet potatoes and leafy greens) are vitamin A precursors, antioxidants (free radical scavenging and cancer protective), immune system supporters and reproductive system boosters.

Delicata Squash

Winter squash are also high in vitamin C (antioxidant and immune support), B vitamins, potassium (better than a banana!) and dietary fiber for digestive and circulatory support. Another plus is that squash is perfect if you are going gluten or grain free– or if you just want to minimize bread butt this holiday season.

Here are three recipes to get you started this fall– the experimentation has already been done for you.

Stuffed Acorn Squash adapted from http://www.eatingwell.com

2-3 medium acorn squash, quartered and seeded

1 tsp plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 tsp sea salt, divided + 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided

1/3 cup chopped green onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste + 2 Tbsp water

1 large bunch chard or kale, chopped

1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

½ pound fresh ground spicy sausage

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (also optional)

Preheat oven to 375. // Quarter and de-seed the squash. Brush the insides with 1 Tbsp oil; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Place face down in a 9-by-13 pan. Bake for 45 min. // Meanwhile, brown sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in water, tomato paste and the remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Stir in chard, cover and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in white beans and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. // Preheat broiler. // Combine Parmesan and the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a bowl. Fill each squash with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil until browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Roasted Delicata Squash & Pears adapted from http://www.eatingwell.com

1 large delicata squash

2 medium ripe but firm pears

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt & 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 Tbsp water + 2 tsp agave nectar or raw honey

1 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, leaving the skin on. Toss in a large bowl with pears, oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet. Roast the squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, 20 to 25 minutes– allow to brown and caramelize. Stir water, agave  and chili powder together in a small bowl and drizzle over the lot. Optional: sprinkle with toasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds. Great as a dessert, snack or a side dish.

Butternut Squash Chowder adapted from Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving 2007

6 bacon slices, cut into ½ inch pieces (nitrate/nitrite free– do not skimp on this)

1 yellow onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 bay leaf

1 tsp chopped fresh sage (for garnish)

4 tsp sea salt & 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper + more to taste

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes

¼ cup white wine

4 cup low sodium chicken broth + 1 cup filtered water

4 cup (1 large) butternut squash, baked, scooped out and pureed

½ cup heavy cream (OR ¼ cup half-and-half, almond milk or coconut milk + ¼ cup whole milk yogurt)

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, till crispy, about 5 min. Transfer to towel lined plate and set aside. // Add onion, celery, bay leaf, sage, salt and pepper to bacon grease and cook, stirring frequently, till the vegetables are just soft, about 6 min. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 3-4 min. // Add the wine and simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, for 2 min. Add the broth and water and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer till potatoes are tender, about 12 min. // Add squash puree and half of bacon and simmer 5 min. Stir in cream and adjust seasonings. Remove and discard bay leaf. // Serve in bowls and top with sage and remainder of bacon. Amazing!

Find your squash locally, at farmer’s markets or in grocery stores– they are cheap this time of year because they are in season. Try these recipes for a fall dinner party, a quiet weekend night or for your Thanksgiving table. You won’t be disappointed.

Resources: Eating Well Magazine, World’s Healthiest Foods, Linus Pauling Institute

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Frances Higgins permalink
    20 J00000010UTC 2011 7:24 pm

    I just picked up some squashes from the farmer’s market, and I’m looking forward to trying your recipes. They look amazing. Thanks.

  2. Isaac Austin permalink
    20 J00000011UTC 2011 7:05 am

    People are running along the beach doing healthy stuff, checking out the farmer s market, probably lighting up some herb and just enjoying the sun.

    • 20 J00000011UTC 2011 8:54 am

      Yeah, dude! That’s rad.

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