Winter Squash

Posted by Eric Hofmann on Saturday, September 21, 2013 Under: Health and Fitness blog
Halloween is right around the corner and it got me to think of the decorations that are the norm. Black and orange flood our eyes with ghosts and goblins. Then there are a few pieces of nutrition that have secretly blended in with the magic of Halloween. Pumpkins, Corn, and Squash. This post we are going to explore the health benefits of the Winter Squash.

Thinking back to all previous holidays - including Halloween. I have seen squash for most of my life. And, I have never thought about eating one, let alone how to eat one? So this year rather than enjoying them as decorations on the table or out on the front door step. Enjoy them as a health benefit and let their natural comforting aroma's fill your home.

Related to both the melon and the cucumber, winter squash comes in all different shapes, sizes, flavors and varieties - from creamy and sweet delicata squash to spaghetti squash, which separates into long strands when cooked. The finely grained texture of winter squash, however, is common to all varieties. Known as "good keepers," they have hard, protective shells that allow them to be stored for long periods. Between one week and six months.

Winter squash are choke-full of nutritious delight-fullness. Rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids - which are converted to vitamin A in the liver and intestinal walls - they're also a very goof source of dietary fiber,potassium, vitamin C, and manganese. Vitamin C has powerful antioxidants properties, helps minimize the risk of heart disease, and helps fight certain types of cancer cells in the body, according to research by the National Institute of Health. Potassium helps the kidneys function normally and supports proper blood pressure. Fiber helps reduce the risk of colon cancer and lowers high cholesterol levels. Manganese is an essential trace mineral that helps produce certain enzymes. Winter squash also contains folate, omega-3 fatty acids, copper, and vitamin B1, B3, and B6, and they have powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Squash is a great source of healthy carbs.



Basic knowledge for picking out squash for consumption, preparation, and a few ideas:

  • Choose a squash that has a dull, deep-colored rind, is heavy for its size, and is free of moldy or soft spots.
  • Store whole in a coll, dry place until ready for cooking (50 to 60 degrees F is ideal)
  • To prepare winter squash for cooking, wash it first, then cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Cutting through the thick skin of a winter squash can be tricky and may test your patience, however, it can be softened by first baking it for 20 minutes. Use a heavy knife, such as a cleaver or chef's knife Holding the squash near the bottom (but not directly under the path of your knife!) use your free hand to plunge the tip of the knife into the squash and push down to cut open as if pulling down on a lever. Repeat until you've cut all the way through.
  • Winter squash can be baked, steamed, simmered, stewed, mashed and pureed. Season with honey, real maple syrup, tamari or soy, ginger, nutmeg, curry, or cinnamon. All complement well with winter squash.
  • Baking squash - put quarters or halves in the oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until soft. Acorn, kabocha, sweet dumpling or turban squash works best for roasting.
  • Steam squash - place squash in steamer basket over 2 inches of boiling water; cover and cook until it can be easily pierced with a skewer or knife. Peeled cubes take about 15 minutes to steam. Halved squash, placed skin side up, takes about 30 minutes. 
  • Drizzle apple juice over thin rings of acorn squash before baking for a sweet, aromatic glaze.

Here are few links for winter squash recipes I found doing a basic google search:

  1. http://allrecipes.com/recipes/fruits-and-vegetables/vegetables/squash/winter-squash/ 
  2. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/winter_squash_recipes
  3. http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-favorite-winter-squash-recipes.html

And, there you have it a crash-course lesson of what those fun little decorative items sitting out on the front porch or on your kitchen table during the Fall/Winter months can do for you! Enjoy!


In : Health and Fitness blog 


Tags: squash  winter squash 
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