Squash is Boss
Squash packs a healthful, flavorful punch.
As the fall air turns brisk and we find ourselves digging out the fleece, it’s easy to forget about farmers markets and seasonal eating. Yet now is a perfect time to indulge in those last few trips to your local markets, farm stands and orchards as the squash harvest is upon us!
Autumn’s vibrant colors are coming to life and so, too, are the flavors of the season. This is a time of transition, and as we find ourselves coming back inside for things like homework and football, we also discover a yearning for those hearty meals that warm and nurture us. As our taste buds seem to naturally wander to soups, stews and casseroles, it’s the perfect time to experiment with the flexible flavors of squash.
Squash can be baked, steamed, sautéed and stewed, and used in soups, salads and casseroles – or enjoyed raw. It makes a delicious breakfast, lunch, supper or snack, and with its ability to swing toward savory or sweet, can be added to just about any meal. Whether you choose juicy summer squash or fibrous winter squash, both work to support satiety in flavorful ways and support weight loss efforts.
Summer squash has thin skin, soft, edible seeds and is lighter in texture. Summer squash is a good source of antioxidant vitamin C and one cup of steamed zucchini contains approximately 2 grams of fiber. Examples of summer squash include zucchini, yellow squash, crookneck and pattypan. To enjoy summer squash, try …
- Dipping raw zucchini or yellow squash into hummus for a snack.
- Chopping zucchini or yellow squash into your favorite fresh salsa.
- Adding zucchini or yellow squash slivers to your sandwich wrap.
- Including zucchini, pattypan or yellow squash in an omelet.
- Baking zucchini rounds. Wash and slice zucchini into quarter-inch slices. Dredge through one bowl of whipped egg (or egg whites) and then through a bowl of seasoned breadcrumbs. Spray each side of the round with nonstick spray and place on a pan sprayed with additional nonstick spray. Bake at 450 degrees until crisp outside and soft inside (about seven minutes per side).
Winter squash has a thicker skin, is sweeter in flavor and is dense. Winter squash is a good source of vitamins A and C and potassium. One cup of baked winter squash contains approximately 5 to 6 grams of fiber. Examples of winter squash include acorn, butternut, buttercup, hubbard and spaghetti. To enjoy winter squash, try …
- Delighting in guilt-free butternut squash fries! Wash and carefully peel a butternut squash. Slice into fry-shaped sticks and place on a pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Season with kosher salt and bake in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes (turning over after 15 minutes).
- Enjoying butternut squash for breakfast. Place one cup peeled butternut chunks in a microwave-safe bowl with 1 tablespoon water and cook for 5 to 6 minutes (until soft). Remove and toss with 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (or maple syrup) and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add a glass of skim milk or soymilk for added protein.
- Baking or microwaving spaghetti squash cut-side down with seeds removed. Use a fork to scrape the squash out of the shell (looks just like noodles)! Top with your favorite sauce and Parmesan cheese. Or add a spray of butter spray and seasonings. It’s excellent as a fiber-filling snack or side to a meal.
- Baking acorn squash cut-side down at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with 1 teaspoon each of maple syrup and olive oil (or butter). Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg as desired. Return to oven for five minutes. Acorn squash is also delicious with rosemary or sage.
Heidi Kramer is a nutrition specialist and inspirational speaker who has inspired thousands to lose weight, change bad eating habits and become champions of their own health for more than 20 years. Kramer is available at Cary Physical Therapy for individual counseling and group programs. Reach her at 847.516.9038.