Fall is in full swing, and you likely have seen a host of delicious root vegetables and gourds at your local supermarket (or if you’re lucky, harvesting them from your garden). Is butternut squash on the menu? We think it should be, for a few reasons. Here’s why:
1. Low Fat and High Fiber
If you’re looking for a plant-based meal that’s delicious, filling, and healthy, look no further than butternut squash. A one-cup serving of butternut squash has only 82 calories and provides you with 7g of fiber. Used as the base of a main dish and you’ll have a great start on a healthy dinner that will keep you satiated until morning.
2. Excellent Nutrients
Think of butternut squash as a natural multivitamin. Not only does it have high levels of potassium for bone health, it is also a great flu fighter by boosting the immune system with vitamin B6. Meanwhile, expecting mothers and their babies can benefit from folate to help with healthy hearts and reduce the risk of birth defects.
3. Antioxidants Galore
The yellow-orange flesh of butternut squash is a good advertisement for what’s inside. Besides a high level of antioxidants to help renew cells, butternut squash also is high in beta-carotene (converted by the body to vitamin A). Along with vitamin C, these high vitamin levels help the body fight off breast cancer and macular degeneration (loss of eyesight) in mature people.
4. Healthy Skin
High levels of beta-carotene make butternut squash a great choice for sun lovers. During the fall, consuming butternut squash and similar foods can help reduce the harm caused by UV radiation, as well as helping to clear your skin.
Cooking Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is versatile and can be cooked in several different ways. Here are a few to get you started:
- Bake: Cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds/pulp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place face down in a casserole dish and bake at 400°F for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Cubed: Similar to the recipe above, but this time peel and cube the squash for a faster cooking time. You can also toss the cubes in olive oil, sea salt, and your favorite herb before cooking.
- Fast: Cut in half, place in microwave until cooked and then scoop out the flesh. Although not ideal, it can help you have a healthy meal on busy weeknights.
Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash & Quinoa
Another delicious and nutrient-packed recipe from The 22-Day Revolution Cookbook! Butternut squash shines in this dish that can easily be served warm for dinner or enjoyed as a cold salad for a nutritious take-to-work lunch.
Makes 4 servings
1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Haas avocado, cubed
1 small lemon, juiced
sea salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Steam the squash for 5-7 minutes. Scatter the steamed squash over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss together the squash, quinoa, avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!
Of course, there are endless butternut squash variations and additions. You can also boil and mash, make into chips, use a spiralizer for noodles, and include in baking. Once you’ve let butternut squash into your life you won’t want to let it go!