Oh how the months fly by… and when winter comes, it’s time to consider eating winter squash because of its many health benefits. Not only is winter squash delicious, but it’s also easy to store and to prepare, too.
Winter squash are actually squash varieties which are harvested in the fall. These are some of the darker varieties such as pumpkin, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and butternut squash.
All have shells, which make them harder to cut/peel, but also contribute to their longer storage life.
So why bother eating winter squash? Well, if you want to reduce the risk of arthritis, cancer, diabetes and/or heart disease, squash helps!
Winter squash is nutritious, and contains high levels of both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene (which converts to Vitamin A). Meanwhile, squash is a good source of Vitamin C (especially important in the winter) as well as antioxidant/anti-inflammatory compounds. Did you know winter squash contains polysaccharides which help regulate blood sugar? Nice! And, to top it off, winter squash is a good source of fiber– something most people could use more of, right?
Now if you’re not that familiar with winter squash, here’s the deal: it can be baked, boiled or steamed. If you’re looking for the quickest and healthiest way to prepare it, steam the squash. When you do, it needs to have been peeled with the seeds removed; Cut the squash into cube pieces. Steaming squash takes about 7 minutes. If you choose to bake it, instead, there’s no need to peel the squash. Take off the ends, cut the squash in half (lengthwise down the middle), use a fork to pierce the meat a few times, and then bake it in the oven ‘til it’s tender. After it comes out of the oven, you can remove the seeds and skin if you’d like.
Squash seeds are a healthy snack. You can prepare them the way you would prepare pumpkin seeds. Just keep in mind that seeds need to be separated from the pulp before baking.
If you’re looking for the healthiest of winter squash, choose acorn squash, which is rich in folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium.