Winter Squash

When Autumn rolls around, so too do the shapes, colors, and unique varieties or winter squash. Winter Squash is a generalized term for a huge variety of different types of squash including butternut, kabocha, carnival, sugar pumpkin, spaghetti squash, delicata, acorn, and more. These squash taste amazing roasted, pureed, steamed, grilled, and sautéed. I love using winter squash in soups, casseroles, salads, pastas, and grain dishes.

  • Winter squash has one of the highest amount of carotenoids of any fruits or veggies– have you seen their gorgeous colors? Some of these plant-powered cartoneoids include alpha and beta-carotene , utein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These compounds act as antioxidants and Vitamin A within our bodies to keep your eyes, skin, teeth, bones, and cells sparkling and shining in cooler autumn months. They also help to protect our immune systems during cold and flu season.
  • Winter squash have beneficial anti-imflammatory fats like Omega 3’s, which provide great support for your heart.
  • Other fantastic vitamin and mineral goodies in squash include Vitamins A, B, C, tons of fiber, folate, manganese and copper.

Vegukate Tips:

Even though winter squash have tough skin exteriors, try to buy organic if you can. Agricultural soil studies have shown that winter squash are especially effective in pulling up pesticide contaminants from conventional soil. Squash grown in organic soil will not have this problem. In my experience, organic squash are only slightly more expensive than conventional, but readily found for a good price at your local farmer’s market when they’re in season.

Save those seeds! When you cut your squash, scoop out the seeds and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the seeds low & slow at 175° F for 15-20 minutes stirring the seeds once or twice. Roasting at a low heat keeps all the beneficial healthy oils and fats in tact. You can store the roasted seeds in an airtight container for about a week or two. They’re excellent in granolas, on oatmeal, salads, grain dishes, and plain on their own with a bit of sea salt.

Choose winter squash that are dull, firm and heavy for their size. They should be stored at room temperature in a cool place away from direct light, and depending on the variety, will keep for one week up to six months. Generally, a good rule of thumb is that winter squash varieties should last at least three weeks.

You can also roast and puree your winter squash. The puree can be stored in the freezer for up to 9 months and will make an excellent addition in soups, pies, and other recipes all year round.