This article was originally published in November 2015
Squash, one of the “three sisters” that formed the basis of many Native American diets (along with corn and beans), may be the most versatile, nutritious and colorful ingredient to brighten up your winter and holiday meals.
There are many different types of winter squash and all are excellent sources of potassium, fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene. And like all colorful vegetables, winter squash provides additional nutritional support in the form of antioxidants (lutein, zeaxanthin) and other disease-fighting phytonutrients (cucurbitacins, polysaccharides). Squash is lower in calories and carbohydrates than potatoes, making it a smart option to help balance out those large holiday feasts!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Cooking with squash
\Winter squash can be intimidating to cook because of its size, density and thick peel, but it is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. One of the easiest methods for preparing squash is to simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and roast in the oven until fork tender.
Cooked squash can be added to soups, salads and casseroles to brighten up almost any winter recipe. You also can experiment with variations of mashed squash, adding flavors such as coconut milk, nutmeg and cinnamon or curry powder.
The most classic Thanksgiving squash dish, pumpkin pie, can be one of the healthier dessert options. A slice of pumpkin pie contains 100 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement, and a good dose of fiber, which minimizes the blood sugar spike caused by sweet treats.
Pureed acorn or butternut squash makes great homemade baby food. Simply bake the squash, let it cool, remove the peel and add some water, breastmilk or applesauce to form a smooth paste. And don’t be afraid to add some of your favorite spices!
Watch our Quick Cooks video to learn how to cut and roast winter squash, identify different varieties and discover tasty recipes.