Want Loads of Powerful Nutrients? Try Winter Squash

Winter squash is typically available from late summer through mid-winter months and is packed with antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamins A, B6 and C and rich in a variety of colors. They help reduce inflammation which is seen in chronic diseases such as heart disease, colitis, asthma and arthritis. It differs from summer squash in that it’s generally sweeter, denser and more firm and has a harder skin and comes in all sizes. Although all types feature yellow or orange flesh inside, the outside can be smooth or bumpy and any shade of red, yellow, green and blue.

Store winter squash in a cool, dry, well ventilated space that’s between 45-50F. Choose firm squash with no spots or blemishes and those that are heavy for their size. Winter squash can be enjoyed in sweet or savory preparations and is often roasted, though baking, boiling and microwaving are common cooking methods. Season it with maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, or add onion, garlic and herbs for a savory flavor. Once cut, cover winter squash tightly with plastic wrap and keep in fridge up to 5 days. Baked or steamed, squash can be frozen to use later in soups, as well as casseroles, breads, muffins and pies.

Some types of Winter squash:

Sugar pumpkin: smaller than the classic pumpkin. Roast or puree into soup, good for pie filling or other desserts. Store up to 1 month.

Butternut squash:  Mild sweet flavor. Enjoy roasted, and can toss into soups, stews, or smoothies. Store up to 3 months.

Acorn squash: Mild sweet nutty flavorand shaped like an acorn and has a greenish orange skin. The tough skin makes it ideal for roasting with skin is on. Store up to 1 month.

Spaghetti squash: The inside is stringy and resembles noodles. A healthy substitute for pasta with less calories and carbs. Can store up to several weeks.

Kabocha squash: Available in dark green and red skin varieties and is a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato. It is ideal pureed for soup or pie filling. Store up to 1 month.

Carnival squash: A hybrid between acorn and sweet dumpling squash and has a rich buttery flavor. Best roasted or added to a stew, risotto, curry, pasta or blended into soups and sauces and be substituted for acorn or butternut squash. Store up to 1 month.

Banana squash: Has an orange, pink or blue skin and sold in precut chunks. Good for roasting. Pairs well with bold herbs and spices such as curry, ginger and cinnamon.  Store up to 1-2 months.

Buttercup squash: Dark green with light green stripes and a round ridge on the bottom. Best steamed or baked, works well with curry dishes. Skin is difficult to peel so bake it first to soften it before scooping it out. Store up to 3 months.

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