winter is coming—and so is delicious winter squash!
Yeah, yeah. I know: it’s pumpkin spice season. Pumpkin everything season: seriously, when did Halloween decorations start appearing before the first day of school?!?
But I’d like to put in a word for all winter squash.
Don’t get me wrong—I love pumpkin pie so much that when I was little, I wanted it in place of birthday cake every year. My mother always had to remind me that perhaps my friends didn’t expect pie at a birthday party.
Fast forward 50 years, and I still love pumpkin—and pretty much every variety of winter squash. Well, I’m still not a huge fan of spaghetti squash, but we’ll overlook that for now.
Winter squash comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from small, oblong delicata to rounder acorn to larger kabocha and giant turban. (I’ll leave you to decide what butternut squash looks like.)
Most of the winter squashes have a deep orange flesh—and that’s one reason I chose that color as part of my brand’s palette: deep orange and dark green represent the vegetables I always try to get clients to eat more of! I even wear so much of those colors that someone once teased that I always “dress on brand.”
These vegetables (actually, they’re fruits) are serious nutrition powerhouses, being rich in carotenoids, protein, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber (seriously lacking in most Americans’ diets!), magnesium, and potassium.
Traditionally, winter squash has been used in some cultures as a medicinal plant for treating diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, high cholesterol, and inflammation. You can read more about the health benefits here.
cooking winter squash
Winter squash will keep for a long time in a cool, dark, dry place such as a basement or garage, so don’t be afraid to stock up on them when they’re in season!
Winter squashes are notoriously difficult to cut: one solution is to prebake the squash slightly until you can do so more easily. Whether you prebake or not, make sure your knife is very sharp. It helps to use a large chef’s knife for this task—and be extra careful.
My personal favorite is delicata squash, closely followed by butternut. Both are delicious as a side dish: cut up (no need to peel!) and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast until tender.
And if you’re looking to make a main dish that works beautifully for a Meatless Monday, uses up leftovers, and looks way fancier than how simple it really is to make, check out my recipe for stuffed winter squash from Fl!p Your K!tchen®.
make the connection
Eating seasonally can put us back in touch with the rhythms of nature and of our own bodies—and if you shop locally and buy directly from farmers, you’ll get in touch with your community as well!
Try out the recipe and let me know how you modified it to suit your own taste and use up what’s in your fridge.
[Photo by Chuk Nowak, 2016 for Fl!p Your K!tchen®.]