Winter squash may be a bit of a misnomer, since it is actually largely available a good portion of the year, from August to January. A large variety of winter squash is grown locally across BC, including butternut, banana, acorn, spaghetti, and kabocha.
The flesh of winter squash comes in a spectrum of colours, from bright yellow to dark orange, representing the abundance of nutrients. These hues are due to the presence of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is a potent antioxidant vital for eye health. Another powerful antioxidant in winter squash is vitamin C, which is important for maintaining healthy bones, skin, and other tissues. As a great source of dietary fibre, winter squash can also promote healthy digestion and cardiovascular health. Since winter squash is a complex carbohydrate, it serves as a nourishing source of energy on your plate.
Winter squash can be prepared in a multitude of ways, brightening up breakfast, lunch, dinner and more. Before cooking, remove the inedible skin, then cut the flesh in half to remove the seeds. This is where you can get creative; try steaming, grilling, roasting, or even adding grated raw squash to a salad.
Sweetening Your Morning
Steamed, cubed banana squash pairs great with feta and spinach in a frittata. The stringy texture of spaghetti squash can easily be formed into simple, yet delicious hash brown patties. Scrape cooked spaghetti squash flesh into a bowl, squeeze out excess water, then mix with chives, one egg, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into flat rounds, and fry in a lightly oiled skillet until crispy and golden brown.
Loving Squash at Lunch and Dinner
Use olive oil and seasonings of your choice on the squash, then roast. Once cooked, add to curry, pasta, chilli, risotto, or salad. For an antioxidant rich pizza, mash butternut squash and use in place of tomato sauce. To save time, roast extra squash and freeze any leftovers.
Entertaining Made Easy
Roasted kabocha squash can be incorporated into a healthy dip with Greek yogurt, garlic, and a splash of tahini. Spice up this crowd pleasing dip with fresh dill or other herbs to suit your palate. Serve with crackers, pita bread, or assorted vegetables.
Grilling the Goodness of Squash
When nature provides a beautiful fall day, pull out the grill. Grilling brings out the natural sweetness of squash and imparts a delectable smoky flavour. Before firing up the barbeque, marinate the squash with olive oil and seasonings, such as garlic powder, paprika, or cayenne pepper for a kick.
Winter squash are local treasure troves of flavours, brimming with nutrients and endless potential. Next time you find yourself planning out weekly meals, incorporate winter squash. Try something new, and reap the wonderful benefits of winter squash.
Choices Nutrition Team loves to mentor students and give them opportunities to explore an exciting career in nutrition. If you have a nutrition question or concern, get in touch with Choices’ team of Dietitians and Holistic Nutritionists by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.