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Squash Is Superfood! Get Yours with 4 Yummy Recipes
Winter squash is not a favorite vegetable of many Americans, and while I don't know the exact stats, I would bet that most of us go years without eating any winter squash at all (except maybe Thanksgiving pumpkin pie!). This is a shame given the fact that winter squash is not only delicious, but also super nutritious and inexpensive. And winter squash is delicious when you have a great recipe!
These 4 favorite recipes using the most common varieties of winter squash — acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, as well as pumpkin — may change your mind about these gourds.
Acorn squash is most often a deep green color, with splashes of yellow and orange, but newer varieties are being grown that may be orange or yellow. An acorn squash is smaller than the other squashes highlighted in this article, but one squash will still feed about four adults a hearty side dish. A highlight of the acorn squash is that the seeds can also be toasted and eaten as snacks.
Nutrition information for 1 cup of baked acorn squash: 114 calories, 30 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 9 grams fiber, 7 grams sugar, 895 mg potassium, 90 mg calcium, 88 mg magnesium
Baked acorn squash
1 tbsp canola oil, or other vegetable oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp water or chicken broth
1 tsp salt, if desired
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare acorn squash halves and lay them on a cookie sheet. Pierce the insides of the squash several times with a fork. Add a thin layer of water or chicken broth to the cookie sheet, just enough to add some moisture during the cooking process. Drizzle the insides of the squash with the oil and then sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt. Place the squash into the pre-heated oven, on the middle rack, and bake for 60-80 minutes – will depend on the size of the squash. The squash will be done when it is soft and the edges are beginning to brown.
Butternut squash can be a hassle to cut and peel, so look for it peeled and cubed in the produce aisle of your market if you’re short on time.
Nutrition information for 1 cup of baked butternut squash: 82 calories, 21 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 6 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 10206 mcg Vitamin A, 100 mg calcium, 695 mg potassium
Butternut squash soup
2 shallots, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
Place a large pot over medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the minced shallots and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the butternut squash and sauté for another 5 minutes, until squash begins to lightly brown. Add broth to the pot and bring to a low simmer. Simmer the squash, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until squash is soft and cooked through. In batches, add the squash and broth to a food processor or blender and blend until it is smooth. Then season with salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Nutrition information per serving (makes ten 1-cup servings): 94 calories, 4.5 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fat, 3.5 grams fiber, 3 grams sugar
This squash is the perfect substitute for those of us looking to cut carbs while enjoying satisfying pasta-like dishes. Top with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese makes for a rich and filling entrée.
Nutrition information for 1 cup of baked spaghetti squash: 42 calories, 10 grams carbohydrate, 1 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, 181 mg potassium, 101 mcg Vitamin A
Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce
2 cups canned tomato sauce, warmed in saucepan or in microwave
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce spaghetti squash with a fork in several places. Place squash on a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven. Cook for approximately 1 hour, turning over a few times. You will know that the squash is done when it is soft and tender when pierced with a knife.
Remove squash from oven and allow to cool for 10-12 minutes. Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds. Using a fork, scrape both halves of the squash in a circular motion, so that you are getting ‘strands’ of squash. As you do this, transfer the ”strands” to a large bowl.
Top the squash with the warmed tomato sauce and cheese, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
Nutrition information per serving; recipe makes eight 1-cup servings): 75 calories, 3 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrate, 1.5 grams fat, 3 grams fiber, 3 grams sugar
While pumpkins are most often used as Halloween jackolanterns, they happen to be delicious edible vegetables! My favorite autumnal dessert is pumpkin pie, but because that isn’t the most nutritious way to eat pumpkin, I’ve decided to share my favorite recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. No, don’t throw out the seeds when carving your jack-o-lantern!.
Nutrition information for 1 cup of pureed pumpkin: 49 calories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 3 grams fiber, 7.5 grams sugar, 1562 mcg Vitamin A
Roasted pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 pinch sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place pumpkin seeds in a single layer on 1-2 large cookie sheets. It is important that the seeds are in a single layer and have room to breathe. Drizzle the seeds with the olive oil and sea salt and bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove seeds from oven when they are just turning brown, allow to cool, and then sprinkle with sugar.
Nutrition information per serving (recipe makes 8 ¼-cup servings): 181 calories, 7 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrate,15.5 grams fat,1.5 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar
Sara Ryba is a registered dietitian, certified dietary nutritionist and a contributor to The FIRM Believers Club website, an online community that helps you reach your fitness, health and weight loss goals. With maximum-efficiency home workouts, support and motivation from The FIRM Master Instructors, daily tips, personalized workout rotation calendars, and access to other members through discussion boards, The Club provides all the tools you need to get in the shape you want.