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How to Cook with Butternut Squash

Butternut squash: Ever tried it? As a food blogger myself I’m extremely embarrassed to admit that I have not only never cooked butternut squash, I’ve also never even eaten it! This is borderline foodie blasphemy, I say, but that’s all about to change. Today we’re taking a nose dive right into this delectable squash and uncovering its health benefits, cooking methods and just what kinds of savory and and sweet recipes it can be used in. Let’s start with the important stuff: Is it good for you?

Health benefits: To answer the above-asked question in one word, “yes.” Butternut squash is a member of the gourd family, which also includes melons, cucumber, and pumpkin. And just like its seedy siblings, butternut squash is also technically a fruit. Who would’ve thought? In addition, it’s considered the most common among winter fruits, according to Nutrition and You.

When it comes to health benefits, this squash is ripe with vitamins and nutrients: phytonutrients, antioxidants, and plenty of fiber. In addition to these perks, this winter fruit is also rich in potassium, vitamin B6, and folate, which help support bone health, the nervous and immune systems and heart health, respectively.

The most visible characteristic of butternut is its pale orange-yellow hue, which gives away its most powerful nutrient of all: carotenoids, which have been shown to protect against heart disease. This includes beta-carotene, which can also help prevent breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration. Just like oranges, butternut squash also serves up a healthy dose of vitamin C: nearly half the recommended daily amount in a one, single cup serving.

Nutritional statistics: One cup contains approximately 82 calories, 0 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, and 2 grams protein; not to mention, 457% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A.

Cooking methods: When searching for a ripe, healthy butternut squash, look for one that feels heavy in proportion to its size with a matte rather than a shiny skin, which would indicate it’s been picked too early. Once purchased your squash will stay fresh for three months if stored in a cool, dry place. And once sliced it will stay fresh for up to one week if covered and refrigerated.

When it comes to preparation methods, butternut squash is extremely versatile. Cooking methods include baking the whole fruit, and peeling away the skin, dicing into cubes to then steam, bake or sauté. Once cooked the squash can then be added to salads; mashed, seasoned and served as a side dish; pureed for soups or pasta sauces; or even added to baked goods. In this way butternut squash can be enjoyed in both sweet and savory settings, as you’ll see below.

Recipes: 

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Crusted Butternut Squash from Sprouted Kitchen 

Butternut Squash Fries

Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado from Cookie and Kate  

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup 

Being that winter is now upon us, don’t let peak butternut squash season pass you by! Get out and and try some of this delicious and healthy squash today.

source: Whole Living

November 18th, 2012

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