Winter Squash Varieties and Health Benefits

It can be a frosty squashy Monday! Really, nothing warms up your day as good as a cup of butternut squash soup. No offense to summer squash, but the health benefits of winter squash makes it a winner. Its yellow and orange flesh, served alone or with some side dishes, are so diverse in taste that they blend well with everybody’s taste buds. Winter squash is naturally one of nature’s kind.

VARIETIES OF WINTER SQUASH

There are different varieties of winter squash that we can take advantage of depending on our diet and style of taste.

Butternut Squash: Health Benefits and Recipe

Butternut Squash. Perhaps the most celebrated of all winter squash, butternut squash pairs well in almost all variety of flavors like vinegar and bacon. Its skin color ranges from butterscotch to sweet orange and is easier to peel than the skins of other winter squash varieties. If you forget to distinguish it from the other squashes remember it is shaped like a bell.

  • BUTTERNUT SQUASH HEALTH BENEFITS: It is low in fat and rich in fiber and carotenoids, making it exceptionally heart friendly. Peel the skin and cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and cut into cubes. Coat in a tablespoon of olive oil and roast at 180°c for 30 minutes. My clients enjoy it with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Butternut Squash soup is very available today in vacuumed packed containers at Trader Joe’s or your local market. The soup tastes very creamy but it is low in fat. Great to enjoy with a sandwich since the soup is very light.

Acorn Squash: Health Benefits and Quick-serving Recipe

Acorn Squash.  Acorn squash has a sweet, yellow-orange flesh and a green ribbed exterior.  Shaped like its namesake, this variety of winter squash is the most readily available of all winter squash. 

  • ACORN SQUASH HEALTH BENEFITS: It is a good source of source of beta carotene which helps reduce the risk of cancer.  Acorn squash also contains Omega 3 fatty acids necessary to maintain good health.
  • Bake acorn squash in an oven until it softens. Then drizzle some butter and add brown sugar to the squash and bake for another 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash. Spaghetti squash has a smooth shell and is available the whole year round. It is called “spaghetti” because when this type of squash is cooked, the golden flesh separates into spaghetti like strings. It is commonly baked whole.

SpaghettiSquash: Health Benefits and Quick-serving Recipe

  • SPAGHETTI SQUASH HEALTH BENEFITS: Spaghetti squash contains Omega 3 essential fatty acids which are good for preventing heart disease and cancer
  • You can bake it whole at 180°C but make sure to pierce the skin with a fork.  After the squash is baked, slice it in half, remove the seeds and savor the strands of flesh – it’s spaghetti reinvented! Many of my clients like to eat it with marinara sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan just like they would do with their favorite pasta.

I always emphasize that if you are not prepared with a dinner idea, squash is always great as a winter meal along with a salad. So just keep a couple on hand and they can be kept on your counter for weeks. The squashes are available at Trader Joe’s and your favorite supermarkets.

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