Winter squash is a staple of the winter months, and it’s a tasty way to get more nutrients into your diet. There are lots of types of winter squash, including acorn, spaghetti, delicata, butternut, kabocha, and even banana squash!
Why should you enjoy the benefits of winter squash? Winter squash is a nutritious and delicious addition to any diet. Although they vary in flavor and appearance, most winter squashes are similar nutritionally. Vitamin A, in the form of antioxidant beta carotene, is often plentiful and essential for vision, immune system, and organ health.
Why do your eyes crave winter squash? One cup of cubed butternut squash contains more than 100 percent of the daily need for vitamin A for people ages 51 and older. Additionally, winter squash is a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. In other words, they’re nutrient dense. Now let’s look at your options.
Acorn squash is a type of winter squash shaped like a pumpkin and harvested in late autumn. It has orange flesh and a sweet, nutty flavor and gets its name from its shape and color, which resembles an acorn. It’s a popular winter squash option for roasting, baking, steaming, or even stuffing.
When you cook acorn squash, its mild flavor pairs well with sweet and savory ingredients. You can also eat acorn squash raw, either grated or cut into slices. Its versatility allows it to be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to soups to sides. It is a healthy, tasty addition to any meal.
Spaghetti squash is a low-calorie, nutrient-packed winter squash that makes for a versatile and delicious side dish or entrée. It’s shaped like an elongated football, with spaghetti-like strands of yellow flesh running through its interior. When you cook it, the strands separate into long pieces, and you can enjoy them raw or cooked in soups, stews, and salads.
To prepare spaghetti squash:
- Cut it in half lengthwise
- Remove seeds
- Place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or aluminum foil)
- Bake for 1 hour at 350°F until tender enough to pierce easily but not so soft that the skin begins to split open (about 30-45 minutes, depending on size).
Once cooked through, let cool slightly before handling it gently so as not to break apart any pieces. With a fork, scrape out all those delicious strands into another bowl. You can even use them as a substitute for a low-carb version of spaghetti noodles.
Butternut squash is a type of winter squash named for its unique, butternut-like shape. It is an abundant source of vitamins A and C, as well as other essential vitamins and minerals. When cooked, it has a sweet, nutty flavor and a creamy texture.
Butternut squash is popular in soups, stews, and casseroles, as well as roasted and mashed. Did you know you can also dry it, grind it into a powder, and use it as a natural sweetener for baking? Butternut squash is a versatile and nutrient-packed addition to any meal.
Delicata squash is a winter squash that offers an excellent flavor profile. Its flesh is sweet and nutty, making it the ideal choice for roasting. It’s also a natural for stuffing or creating purees and sauces. Its delicate skin is edible, eliminating the need to peel it.
This delicious squash variation is packed with antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious choice. When delicately cooked, Delicata squash is a flavorful addition to any dish. Its sweet, nutty flavor is sure to please any palate.
Kabocha squash is a Japanese variety of winter squash with a sweet and dense flesh that’s orange-yellow in color. The dark green outer skin is thick and somewhat tough, but the inside is soft, making it easy to cut into cubes for baking or roasting.
You can use kabocha squash in place of pumpkin in recipes such as pies, breads, muffins, or soups. It’s also scrumptious sautéed with some onions and chicken broth until tender. The whole family will love this simple side dish!
Hubbard squashes are the largest of all winter squashes, and they’re also known as sugar pumpkins. These vegetables are ideal for soups and stews. Remember, these squashes have a tough outer skin and take longer than other varieties to cook. They may look undercooked when done but will continue cooking inside once you remove them from the heat source.
You can store Hubbard squash whole until you need them by placing them in a cool dry place away from sunlight or heat sources (which will hasten their ripening).
Banana squash is a type of winter squash that, as its name implies, has a shape and yellow color like a banana. It is a type of Cucurbita maxima, which is a species of squash that also includes pumpkins and other winter squashes. This type of squash is native to South America but you can find it all around the world. It is a popular choice for cooking, as it has a sweet flavor and creamy texture that makes it suitable for a variety of dishes.
To prepare banana squash, start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp. Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until the squash is tender. After cooking, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs and spices.
To steam the squash, cut it into cubes, place it on a steamer rack, and steam for about 10 minutes until it is tender. To boil banana squash, add the cubed squash to a pot of boiling water and let it cook for about 10 minutes or until the squash is tender. Then, enjoy!
So now you know about all these different types of winter squash. They’re not just for cooking anymore! Each type has its own unique taste and nutritional value, which makes them perfect for adding variety to your diet. Enjoy!
- “Butternut squash nutrition facts and analysis..” nutritionvalue.org/Butternut_squash_525012_nutritional_value.html.
- “Acorn Squash: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Cook It – Healthline.” 11 Sept. 2019, healthline.com/nutrition/acorn-squash.
- “Squash | National Kidney Foundation.” 17 Nov. 2021, kidney.org/atoz/content/squash.
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