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Add a variety of squash to your fall diet

Published: Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 12:10 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 12:14 p.m. CST

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Butternut, acorn and pumpkin. With cooler weather just around the corner it’s time to start harvesting these fall favorites. Think of winter squash as the MVP of the vegetable world. They are inexpensive, easy to store, wonderfully easy to prepare, and pretty enough to double as a table decoration!

The bright yellow and orange flesh is packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fiber. The outside though, is extremely hard and can be challenging to cut through. To make the squash easier to cut, pierce the skin in a few spots with a sharp knife, place it in a microwave oven and heat on high for 2 minutes. Let stand for another few minutes before cutting in half. Use a sharp knife and cut through the stem end to the pointed end or blossom end. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and remove the fibers. 

Butternut squash, acorn squash and pumpkin can all be used interchangeably in recipes and are found in soups, stews or as side dishes. The type of recipe you choose will determine the cooking method. Squash can be steamed, boiled, baked or cooked in the microwave.

When shopping for squash choose squash that are heavy for their size and have a hard deep-colored rind free of blemishes or moldy spots. The same hard skin that makes squash hard to cut is what allows it to be stored longer than summer squash. Winter squash does not require refrigeration and can be kept in a cool, dark place for a month or more, depending on the variety. Dry hot air will cause loss of moisture, resulting in a shorter shelf life. Squash with a bit of stem still intact will help slow down moisture loss. (Plan on using squash purchased from the grocery store within two weeks of purchase, since you won’t know how long it has already been in storage.) 

For a healthy twist on an old favorite, this recipe stuffs the squash with apples and oranges along with brown sugar, light margarine and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Fruit Filled Squash

Yield 2 servings

1 small acorn squash

1 small apple, diced

1 small orange, peeled and diced

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 teaspoons light margarine

Cut squash in half; remove seeds. Lightly sprinkle cavity with salt. Put cut-side down in microwave baking dish. Add 2 Tbsp water and microwave on High for 5 minutes. Combine apple, orange and brown sugar. Spoon into squash cavities; dot each with 1 tsp light margarine. Place cavity-side up back in baking dish. Cover with wax paper. Continue to microwave on High for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Calories: 200  Fat: 3g   Saturated Fat: 0g   Sodium: 35mg   Carb: 48g   Fiber: 5g

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