Oh, the winter squash! Aren't they beautiful things? Butternut squash, pumpkin, acorn squash and spaghetti squash are among my favourites. (On a side note, I remember when I used to turn my nose up at these foods when I was younger, and now you can't keep me away from it!)
We are in peak squash season. Now is the time your squash will be at it's cheapest, have a ton of flavour and pack some serious nutrients. Here are just a few reasons squash is so good for your mind, body and soul:
- Squash is one of the richest sources of plant-based anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega 3's and beta-carotene, which are important for a strong immune system.
- Squash is a terrific source of carotenoids, which are thought to be key players in preventing diseases like cancer.
- The polysaccharides that are found in the cell walls of squash have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic / insulin-regulating properties.
- Squash has a low glycemic index, meaning it won't spike your blood sugar, causing you to feel tired and have cravings later on.
As for vitamins and minerals, squash is a serious powerhouse. It is a significant source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fibre.
The best part about squash is that the entire vegetable can serve some sort of purpose. Here are some ideas for how you can use the whole squash, whether it's a pumpkin or butternut, so that you leave no waste behind!
#1. Squash Puree
We've been using pumpkin puree in all the things around here and it is so easy to make it yourself. We like using smaller pumpkins for this task as they are easier to handle and tend to have better flavour.
- 1 or 2 small pumpkins
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Slice the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds and set them aside. Place the halves on a baking sheet face up and roast for 45 minutes or until pumpkin can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven.
- Let cool slightly and then peel the skin from the pumpkin. Throw the remaining flesh into your food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.
- Transfer to a mason jar and store in the fridge or freezer.
Now, what to do with all that delicious pumpkin puree? Well, you could make...
Now onto the next part of the squash...
#2. Roast the Seeds
Not only are roasted pumpkin seeds delicious, but they are also a terrific source of protein, zinc and and iron! So set aside the seeds from any squash, rinse them and spread them across a piece of parchment paper to air dry. Once dry, you can roast them a million different ways. You can make them sweet, salty or spicy. Here is our favourite recipe:
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Pumpkin Seeds
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds (rinsed and dried)
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix well. Spread seeds across the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, stirring at the halfway point.
- Remove pumpkin seeds from the oven and let cool. Break into pieces and enjoy!
#3. Vegetable Broth
Lately I've been really into creating my own vegetable stock from all my veggie scraps including squash. I throw any odds and ends into the crock pot with some water and spices and cook on low overnight. In the morning, I strain it out and am left with a nutrient dense vegetable stock with no icky additives! Store it in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for down the road.
#4. Pumpkin Bowls
We love roasting up an acorn squash and then stuffing the two halves with nutritious deliciousness like soups, salads and hummus. We just added this Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe to That Clean Life
#5. Compost It or Donate it to the Wild Life
Composting is an inexpensive way to create organic matter for your own garden. So whatever you have leftover, throw in the compost. Or, you could also place it at the edge of your property for the wildlife to enjoy. Waste not, want not!
What's your favourite way to use squash? Let us know in the comments below!