Butternut squash might just be one of Autumn’s most versatile fruits, yes fruit.
It is one of the most popular squashes with a mild, but sweet flavor and smooth-textured flesh.
There are so many delicious ways to use this hard-shell squash, from soups and salads to lasagna and pizza.
Fruit or Vegetable
Technically, butternut squash is a fruit as its seeds are inside the squash.
This is true of all members of the gourd family, which includes winter squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons.
A Prebiotic Food
Butternut squash is high in fiber and is a prebiotic food that supports healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
A prebiotic food is not to be confused with a probiotic food.
Prebiotic was first brought to light by scientists in 1995, and described as “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host (human being) by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improves host (human) health”.
Prebiotics foods are fermented by the beneficial bacteria in the gut and used as a source of fuel to help enhance gut flora health.
Other prebiotic foods include asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions, dandelion greens, bananas, apples, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama root, radishes, chicory, and cabbage among many other foods.
NutritionalProfile of Butternut Squash
One cup of cubed, raw butternut squash typically has 63 calories, 1.4g of protein, 0.1g of fat, 16.4g of carbohydrates, 2.8g of fiber, and 3.1g of sugar.
Butternut squash packs plenty of vitamins A and C, and including Calcium – Magnesium – Phosphorus – Potassium – Zinc – Copper and Manganese.
All these minerals and vitamins are needed to maintain healthy skin, hair and eyes.
Its potassium content helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Selecting Your Squash
Look for squash with minimal bruising and no obvious cuts or oozy areas. The squash should feel heavy for its size.
During the Autumn months, squash can sometimes be found at farm stands, farmers’ markets, or “U-Pick” pumpkin and gourd farms.
Purchasing at these locations can help you get a squash with maximum flavor.
Storing Your Squash
If you plan on eating the squash soon, you can keep it on your countertop for up to a week.
For longer storage, keep it in a cool, dark place such as a cold storage room. A properly stored squash can last for weeks or even months.
Diced raw butternut squash can be refrigerated for two to three days.
Once cooked, the squash will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
In conclusion, to enjoy butternut squash, cook it by roasting, baking or microwaving the squash, then enjoy as a side dish. Try one or more of the butternut squash recipes featured in this article.
Splendid Recipes: Today we are going to let Keisha explain the right time to start teaching your children cooking skills. Okay Keisha, we pass the platform over to you.
Keisha: Thanks Randy. Do you have children? Have you ever thought when would be a good time to start teaching my child how to cook? But not only cook, but cook healthy meals.
It is true we are all busy, but our children will not always be with us, and they need to know the importance of COOKING. And it doesn’t matter if they are a girl or boy, we all should have some basic cooking skills.
Okay, so when is a good time to start teaching your children? Let’s talk about age groups and what are some skills they can learn during those ages.
Here are the age appropriate cooking skills to teach your children.
Preschoolers – 6 years old
This age group can help preparing fruit and pasta salads, help with setting the table, and for those who can read, they can read the recipe ingredients and directions with you. Doing so will help them learn to follow recipe directions.
They can measure ingredients, learn how to use a food timer, including a meat thermometer. They can help with making smoothies by allowing the child to place the ingredients into the blender.
This is also a wonderful age group to let help with baking cookies, as they can learn the effort that goes into making one of their favorite snacks.
Explain to them how herbs and spices flavor a recipe. You might think teaching this to a preschooler to 6 year old would be something they wouldn’t understand, which may be true at first. But repetition is key to teaching children the skills of cooking.
Other things this age group can help with in food preparation is preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner, helping with menu planning, as well as helping to clean up the kitchen after eating.
This age group is the right time to start and teach them the importance of eating healthy.
Continue with what they have learned up to age six, that is measuring ingredients, making smoothies, menu planning, and help with cleaning the kitchen.
Ages 7 to 12 is a good age group to start teaching kitchen prep work, that is cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses that will go into the recipe you are preparing.
Continue with teaching them the importance of healthy eating, flavoring foods with herbs and spices, including following and reading recipe directions.
This age group can start learning to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner by themselves.
They even make their favorite cookies on their own, including learning how to cook different cuisines, like a simple Asian stir-fry or Mexican food, like tacos.
They still should be encouraged to read and follow recipe directions. At this age let them sit with a paper and pencil and plan out the weeks menu.
Letting them do this will help them learn appreciation for planning ahead to eat, instead of waiting to the last minute when you are really hungry, and may go for some junk food.
We all would like meals to be done in 20 minutes or less, at least I do.
Here are some simple ingredients you can teach your child to mix together to form different recipes in the kitchen.
You can do 3 easy things with these ingredients: Lemon, Garlic, Salt, Sugar, Olive Oil, and Onion.
The ideas are endless with these simple ingredients.
Having your family helping in the kitchen more is one way to make sure everyone is eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Preparing meals together brings you closer as a family. You are teaching your family how to cook healthier and smarter.
Remember, the heart of the home is in the kitchen, and a healthy kitchen, is a healthy heart.
Splendid Recipes: Thanks so much Keisha, for taking the time out to share all that you have with us on teaching good nutrition through cooking, inspiring future cooks, and cooking together as a family.
Keisha: No thank you Randy for this opportunity. And I appreciate any one who would like to follow me on any one of the social net works I am on.
Splendid Recipes: Yes follow Keisha on any one of the following social net works and keep up with the latest adventures of – The Mobile Cooking Teacher.
Throwing some leafy greens with other vegetables together on a plate and topping it with some nuts, seeds and your favorite dressing or vinaigrette is a great way to get your daily servings of vegetables.
How about going a step further and adding some cheese, like Parmesan, grumbled goat cheese, or even some of your own homemade cheese made in an hour? What? Yes you read right, homemade cheese made in one hour.
We were listening to NPR this past week, and the program was All Things Considered, and I was very intrigued at hearing that you could make cheese in one hour.
After listening in the car to the interview with Claudia, the very next day with a gallon of milk from Whole Foods Market, I ventured to make some homemade cheese in my own kitchen for the first time.
Here’s what you need to do to make your own cheese in an hour….
Pour 4 cups milk into a 2-quart saucepan and heat it on medium as you stir.
Look for foam to begin forming around the inside edges of the pot as well as little simmer bubbles coming from the bottom—not a rolling boil. Stir continuously so that a skin doesn’t form on the milk’s surface.
Once you see a soft boiling of the milk, slowly add 1/8 cup of fresh lemon juice. You can also use vinegar. Apple cider or white vinegar will do.
As you are slowly pouring in the lemon juice, stir gently to incorporate it until you see the clear separation of curds, which will be white solids, and whey, a clear liquid.
This separation of curds from the whey is called coagulation. When you see coagulation and the liquid no longer looks like plain milk, turn the heat to low and stir the curds very, very gently as you cook them for 2 minutes more after the coagulation begins.
Have a cheese cloth placed in a small strainer over a bowl, and using a slotted spoon, carefully spoon out the curds and place them into the cheese cloth, and let any excess whey drain off.
After the whey has drained off, you can add some sea salt or Himalayan salt to the cheese and mix in.
We add some garlic seasoning, which gave it a great flavor. In Claudia Lucero’s book, she even shows you how to make a faux cheddar cheese (which takes days to make) in an hour by just adding turmeric to give it that orange look that you see when purchased at the market.
Here is what we got at our first try making homemade cheese.
The cheese is much like a crumbled cheese you would buy at the market. Here are a few leafy green salads we put together using our homemade cheese.
This salad is a few handfuls of leafy greens (your choice) topped with sliced radishes, pecan pieces, pomegranate vinaigrette, and homemade crumbled cheese.
Our next salad is a plate of leafy greens, with a fried egg and some root vegetables, consisting of sliced radishes and golden beets. We topped the salad with a olive oil and sweet balsamic vinaigrette, homemade crumbled cheese and fresh thyme.
Leafy Greens With Root Vegetables and A Fried Egg And Homemade Cheese
As we mentioned at the on set of the article, this is a great way to get a few servings of your daily need of vegetables, and a added treat you make yourself, Homemade Cheese.
Here is a great dish that we believe you don’t have to wait until the Autumn months to enjoy. Cranberries are harvested September thru November, and are found fresh in the stores in the months of November and December. Cranberries are always associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
Cranberries freeze well for up to one year, so why not buy yourself a few extra bags to enjoy them other parts of the year.
Did you know that in January the packaged cranberries that have not sold are reduced in price, which has been from 98 cents to around $1.25 around the past few years. The bags that do not sell, the markets store away in their freezers until next year.
Cranberries are another food crop that depend on bees for pollination. The fruit is a berry, and it is larger than the leaves of the plant.
Once the berry starts to form, it is initially white, turning a deep red when fully ripe. The berry has an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
Cranberries are related to bilberries, blueberries, and huckleberries.
A common misconception about cranberry production is that the beds remain flooded throughout the year, but rather the beds are irrigated regularly to maintain soil moisture during the growing season.
Beds are flooded in the autumn to facilitate harvest and again during the winter to protect against low temperatures.
Our feature recipe is an example of how you can enjoy those cranberries throughout the year, and here is what you will need to enjoy the flavors of – RoastedButternut Squash with Apples Cranberries and Candied Walnuts.
1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
In a large bowl mix in prepared fruits (yes butternut squash is actually a fruit). Next mix in spice mix and butter, mix in until well coated.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt, and spice.
Spoon coated fruit mix into a 13 X 9 inch baking glass pan.
Roast 50-60 minutes for a tender dish, and for or a lighter crunchy bit, roast for 30 minutes. Test the squash to feel its crunchiness by forking the squash and eating it, and if the squash has a slight firm texture but not mushy, then it’s done roasting.We found these candied walnuts in the Whole Foods Market. The are walnut halves, which we broke up into pieces.
Spoon the roasted fruit into a serving bowl and top with candied walnuts. Before serving, mix walnuts in. You also have the option to serve the side dish with the walnuts on the side, allowing your family and guests to spoon on the walnuts if they wish.
The squash is a member of the gourd family and is the most widely grown winter squash. In the United States, Florida is the largest squash-producer with California ranking second.
Butternut is rich in fiber, and low in calories. It also is a good source of minerals, including magnesium and potassium. Those who have asthma or breathing problems, this squash can help, because of its magnesium, and vitamins A and C content.
Squash is a low carbohydrate food, including a low glycemic index food, between 0 and 35. The low number indicates no spiking of insulin in the blood stream. Most squash have small amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, and including the B-vitamins. They also contain trace minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper.
Squash is great for heart health and every muscle of the body. Magnesium is great to help the muscles relax, preventing what is called charlie-horse or cramping of the muscles.
As for potassium, one half cup serving of Grey Squash as an example has 603 mg, raw zucchini has 459 mg, cooked has 194 mg, and baked Butternut squash has 289 mg.
The squash we are using in our featured recipe is a hybrid of the zucchini squash, and is referred to in Mexico as the Mexican squash or the grey squash.
The grey squash has the same texture and flavor as the zucchini. Unlike the zucchini when harvested at a larger size, the grey squash tends to still have a tender skin.
Now for our featured recipe: Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce. The recipe is simple and easy, as it contains 3 ingredients as follows…
You can use any type of spaghetti sauce, but we chose to use a tomato base with cream and vodka included, 2 cups.
One pound of organic pork chorizo, which we purchased on sale at the Whole Foods Market, and 3 Mexican squash, which will make about 2 to 3 servings. Here we have a larger harvested Mexican squash given to us from a friends organic home garden.
Using a julienne peeler, run it from top to bottom all around the squash until you arrive to the seeds in the center. Set the squash pasta aside.
Heat a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of pastured unsalted butter, and when melted add the pork, and cook until done, about 10 minutes. remove from heat, and set aside.
In a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. When heated, add the stringed squash and cook for about 5 minutes. You want the oil to cling to the squash strings. If the oil clings then in turn the spaghetti sauce will cling to the squash pasta. Do not over cook the squash, you want a little crunch, and at the same time you want a fork to twirl it, the same as is done with traditional pasta.
Remove skillet from heat and transfer squash past to a serving platter. Return the skillet to the heat and add the spaghetti sauce and cooked pork chorizo, and mix together. Allow the heat to warm the meat sauce.
Remove meat sauce from heat and pour it over the squash pasta arranged on a serving platter. Serve with grated Italian cheese, and enjoy.
The ultimate comfort food and easy to make pasta dish. With its subtle sweetness, butternut squash is a flavor that will go with almost any main dish.
This buttery and savory dish with hints of herbaceous sage and the subtle sweetness and spice of shallots and cayenne pairs well the smoked applewood bacon.
Gluten-Free Rigate With Roasted Butternut Squash & Smoked Bacon
2 cups butternut squash (about a 1 3/4 pound squash), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz. Penne Rigate, gluten-free pasta
4 to 5 thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 shallots, thinly sliced
12 fresh sage leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
In a pot of boiling water, cook the gluten free pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and rinse, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Most Jovial pasta instructions do not say to rinse, but we do, so the pasta will not stick, while it sits waiting to be used.
Now you can roast the butternut squash coated with olive oil in a preheated 425 degree oven (that’s great for colder weather) or you can do what we did and roast the diced squash coated with olive oil (1 tablespoon) on a hot BBQ grill using a BBQ basket. Just add the squash to the basket and close the lid for about 15 minutes or until the squash is browned and tender (but not to soft or mushy).
When butternut squash is brown and tender, remove and set aside.
Heat on the grill remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ceramic coated skillet (or skillet of your choice), and add the smoked bacon and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Next add the shallots, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of black pepper and mix in. Next add the sage, mix in and cook until the shallots are soft, about 4 minutes.
Next add the squash, rigate, and the reserved cooking water and cook over heat, tossing gently, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Next add and mix in the 1/2 cup of Pecorino cheese.
Plate and serve, passing extra Pecorino cheese at the dinner table, or enjoy out on your back patio during a warm summer evening.
This recipe brings together flavors for an exciting salad as a main dinner selection. It features the sweet purple potato which roasts up very tasty, along with cashews, tender baby kale, chicken breast, and an all organic balsamic dressing purchased at the Whole Foods Market. It is a non-oil dressing that is gluten free, vegan friendly, and non-dairy. The main dressing ingredients includes blackberries, figs, and aged balsamic vinegar.