The months of October and November are all about the pumpkin. But let us not forget about its cousin, the Butternut squash. A member of the same family as melon and zucchini, butternut squash delivers in flavor and versatility, as well as good nutrition.
Its bright orange color is a dead giveaway that it’s a nutrition super-star. That orange color is associated with carotenoids; butternut squash is the primary source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in the diet! It also ranks in the top three foods for three other carotenoids – lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
The carotenoid content of butternut squash, coupled with its high levels of potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and manganese, work together to make it a super-food that’s been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. And for only 80 calories a cup, it’s an ideal food to consume when you’re watching your weight.
How to Choose, Store, and Prepare
Butternut squash, like other winter squash, are available year-round, but are best during the peak season of October to November. Their hard shells are difficult to pierce, which makes them durable enough to last on your counter for a few weeks before spoiling.
When preparing a butternut squash, cut off the top and bottom of the squash with a heavy, sharp knife. You can remove the skin with either a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife. Then cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Save the seeds for later because you can roast them (at 175F for 15-20 minutes) for a delicious, crunchy snack.
Cut the squash halves into cubes and either steam them or roast them (our favorite way!) until the cubes are soft. You can serve them just like that or you can puree the cooked cubes to make a beautiful, smooth, creamy, side dish (which happens to be a great baby food for all you moms out there). You can also make a soup out of the pureed squash by adding some broth and seasoning. Simple, elegant, and delicious.
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
- Ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and coat with olive oil cooking spray.
- Place squash cubes on tray and dust with ground cinnamon.
- Place tray in oven on middle or bottom rack and roast 10 minutes; give a quick stir and roast another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before serving.