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Savoring Squash


As the leaves change and the weather turns, Illinois corn and soybean fields are being harvested, and classic autumn crops of apples, sweet potatoes, and squash are arriving. Even though summer is the peak of numerous colorful fruits and veggies, autumn foods also provide bright pops of color and many healthy nutrients.

Winter squash should be a popular food on your plate this time of year, if it is not already. It can seem a bit complicated to buy and prepare due to the many varieties and odd shapes, but try a new variety you have not worked with yet. The recipe in this post uses a butternut squash, but others would work too.

Nutrition

Winter squashes are sources of fiber, carbohydrates, folate, vitamin A (highest when flesh is yellow or orange in color), potassium, calcium, and magnesium, while being low in fat and sodium.

Types and Preparation

From Utah State Extension's "Food Preparation" blog, watch their video about winter squash – showing some unusual ones – including what to look for when buying and cooking tips. Or use their Winter Squash fact sheet on cutting, cooking, and preserving squash.

Cooking

Winter squash is good as a side dish like mashed potatoes or roasted alone or with other veggies and fruits. Or try it cubed or pureed in main dishes, soups, and stews. Look in your grocer's freezer case, you might find pureed winter squash ready to use.

Recipe Corner

Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)

This cozy side-dish soup packs lots of nutrient-rich vegetables and will warm you up on a cold day.

1 Tbsp butter
3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
2 cups small diced carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1 medium leek or onion, small diced
3 1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup half-and-half
Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and add squash, carrots, and leek. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
2. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Cool slightly.
3. Place one-third of the squash mixture in a food processor or blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Add remaining squash mixture and blend until smooth.
4. Return all of squash mixture back to saucepan. Add pepper, nutmeg, and half-and-half.
5. Heat through, stirring frequently. (Soup may begin to steam, but do not boil or half-and-half may curdle.)
6. If desired, garnish each serving with pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 140 calories, 5g fat, 520mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 3g protein

"Read More" Resources

WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: Learn about a variety of squash, including growing at home and recipes from University of Illinois Extension's website "Watch Your Garden Grow" for Winter Squash.

WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: From Utah State Extension, watch videos on cooking a variety of autumn produce from their Food Preparation blog. Look for apples, potatoes, and winter squash.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.



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