Butternut Squash: Fall’s Nutritious Comfort Food!

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No offense to summertime squash, the health benefits of fall-harvest squashes such as the savory butternut squash, far outweigh those of its summer cousins. Check out the multitude of health benefits then over to the Farmer’s Market and pick up some to try!

Butternut Squash is low in fat, and delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It also provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. The folate content adds yet another boost to its heart-healthy reputation and helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects such as spina bifida.

Squash is somewhat light orange in color which gives a hint to another noteworthy benefit. The color signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, the gourd boasts very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration, as well as a supporter of healthy lung development in fetuses and newborns. What’s more, with only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.

Research reveals that butternut squash may have anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content. Incorporating more of this hearty winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Crock Pot Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 (28 ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, for serving
  • ½ cup chopped onions, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving

Directions

  1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking it up into chunks, until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, onion, squash, water, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, salt and cayenne to the slow cooker; stir to combine. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours.
  3. Remove lid and stir to combine. Serve hot, topped with Cheddar, scallions and hot sauce, if desired.

To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Equipment: 5- to 6-quart slow cooker

Serves 6, each serving contains:  Calories 276, Fat 6 g, Fiber 13 g, Carbohydrates 35 g, Protein 22 g, Sodium 736 mg, Cholesterol 43 g.

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cup chicken Broth
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder

Directions

  1. Cut top and bottom off the butternut squash and use knife to carefully cut remaining skin off.
  2. Cut in half and scoop out seeds. Chop squash into small cubes and dice onion.
  3. In a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the diced onion. Sauté 3 minutes until starting to soften and add squash. Sauté an additional 5 minutes until squash starts to brown.
  4. Add coconut milk, broth, and spices and bring to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes until soft. Use a blender or hand blender to puree until smooth. Serve warm or make ahead to reheat for a fast meal addition.

Serves 6, each 1 cup serving contains: Calories 152. Carbohydrates 10.6g, Protein 2.5g, Fat 12g, Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 551mg, Fiber 3g.

Spinach and Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients

Butternut Squash Filling:

  • 2 cups pureed butternut squash (about half of squash)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk or more, if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon more
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Spinach Filling:

  • 8 oz. spinach (1 cup cooked spinach)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Other Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. lasagna noodles cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese or more
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese on top
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Basil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.Butternut Squash Filling:
  2. For this filling, you will need to have pre-cooked butternut squash puree. Using food processor, combine 2 cups of butternut squash puree with Ricotta cheese, milk, salt, and nutmeg. Add more milk if needed (to make the butternut squash filling very creamy). Mix very well, taste and add more salt, if needed.Spinach Filling:
  3. Combine spinach, Ricotta cheese, mozzarella, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix, taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.Cooking lasagna noodles:
  4. Bring a very large pot of water to boil, and cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water, drain. Using knife, trim noodles to fit your baking dish (if necessary).How to assemble vegetarian lasagna:
  5. Grease the lasagna dish lightly with olive oil spray. Spread 1/3 of butternut squash filling on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked lasagna noodles without overlapping.
  6. Spread half of spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
  7. Spread another layer (1/3) of butternut squash mixture, then sprinkle lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
  8. Spread the remaining half of spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with the final layer of cooked noodles.
  9. Spread a generous amount of butternut squash filling (the remaining 1/3) over this final layer of noodles, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and remaining mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup of mozzarella). Generously sprinkle the cheese with Italian seasoning, paprika, and basil.
  10. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 min. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Serves 8, each serving contains: Calories 401 Carbohydrates 35g, Protein 23g, Fat 18g, Cholesterol 64mg, Sodium 549mg, Fiber 2g.