Butternut squash — Tasty and good for you

Butternut squash is a source of vitamin A, containing 300 percent of its suggested daily intake and 50 percent of suggested daily intake for vitamin C.

by Dorothy Krupnick — 

Imagine a vegetable that provides you with good skin integrity, a natural sunscreen, healthy eyes and a powerful antioxidant, all at 82 calories per one-cup serving. Low in sodium and fat-free, the winner is butternut squash. Yes, the hard-skinned squash that always invokes a “what do I do with it?” response when you are in the produce aisle amidst the broccoli and garlic. You need not worry. Preparation is simple. Use a sharp knife to cut away at the rind, and the rest of the preparation is easy, as illustrated in the recipes.

Butternut squash is a source of vitamin A, containing 300 percent of its suggested daily intake and 50 percent of suggested daily intake for vitamin C. Squash has carotenoids, natural pigments found in vegetables and fruit. Betacarotene is the isolated pigment found in vegetables like butternut squash. A member of the cucurbitaceae family, which includes pumpkins, it is one of the many super foods, along with green tea, blueberries and brown rice.

Eating these foods, as the scientific community is discovering, provides us with a means to optimum health. Butternut squash can be utilized in many dishes and is highly adaptable. Baked, pureed or mashed in savory or sweet dishes, getting your betacarotene has never been simpler.

According to Yale University School of Medicine, numerous studies have found that people who include more carotenoids in their diet have a reduced risk of chronic diseases. (Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology 2002 15:307-345 “Photo protection of UV-Irradiated Skin with Vitamins E, C, Carotenoids.”) Clinical trials suggest that a diet rich in carotenoids is associated with decreased evidence of cancer, aortic artherosclerosis, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Studies in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology maintain that carotenoids protect cells against ultraviolet radiation, which can damage DNA molecules. This physiological response can cause collagen breakdown in the skin, resulting in wrinkles and age spots. All these good nutrients are found in a funny-looking vegetable.

Butternut squash can be roasted in the oven, boiled or steamed. Prepare a better way to health with the following recipes, excellent examples of savory and sweet combined in a side dish and a soup.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Puree

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 pounds butternut squash
  • 4 unpeeled apples, halved and cored
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

Cut butternut squash in half; scoop out and discard seeds. Cut apples in half and core. Lightly apply nonstick spray to a cookie sheet. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and brown sugar on cut side of squash and apples. Place squash and apples, cut side down, on sheet. Bake for 35 minutes at 350° until outer skin is wrinkled in appearance. Scoop squash and apple pulp from skins into a bowl; mix with maple syrup, cinnamon and cloves. Serve with pork or turkey. Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Southwest Butternut Squash Soup With Goat Cheese and Cilantro

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups peeled, cubed squash
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup evaporated whole milk
  • 1 scallion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked chipotle pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled Mexican cheese or goat cheese for garnish
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped for garnish

Instructions:

In saucepan, simmer peeled, cubed butternut squash in 3 cups of water with salt, to taste, for approximately 20 minutes, until fork-tender. Do not drain. Add 3 cups of chicken stock, salt, pepper, garlic, scallions and chipotle peppers to squash; simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from stove and cool for 10 minutes. Place contents in a blender; puree for one minute. Reheat in pot if necessary. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with crumbled cheese and cilantro. Serves four.

 

Dorothy Krupnick, a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, is employed at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center where she counsels patients on medical nutrition therapy. She owned Gourmet Catering Inc. in New York City and now provides private cooking classes and diet counseling. 480-219-1731.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 5, October/November 2006.

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