Squash It!

Written by Sylvia Geiger MS, RD, CD, Price Chopper Community Nutritionist

I made fresh butternut squash muffins over the weekend and remembered why fall is my favorite time of year. The air was a bit chilly and crisp outside, but inside the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice wafted through the house. All morning I heard, “It smells sooo good in here—just like fall.” By midday the muffins were gone and I was on a roll. Off I went to pick fall raspberries and make jam.  Oh how I love fall when it’s finally cool enough to enjoy hours in the kitchen!

Winter squash becomes my go-to vegetable in September. There are so many kinds available and they look so pretty in a basket on the counter!  They’re also inexpensive and very versatile.  You’d be hard pressed to find another vegetable that works equally well in soup & pasta as it does in bread, muffins and dessert.  It’s also pretty forgiving, if the recipe calls for butternut squash and you only have buttercup on hand—no big deal, just swap it out.

Squash is also packed with plenty of nutrients; the NuVal score for all winter/fall squash varieties is over 95. A half-cup serving of winter squash has only 30-50 calories, 2-3 grams fiber, plenty of vitamin C +/or vitamin A as well as minerals such as potassium and magnesium. It’s the perfect “stealth vegetable” that can be added to just about anything, it brings sweetness and body to a dish without overwhelming the flavor.  Your kids will never know that they just ate a serving of vegetables in that muffin!

However for many, cooking winter squash can be a culinary challenge. Even with a sharp knife it can be difficult to cut—it’s very hard and it can roll away from you.  Of course you can buy the precut pieces in the produce department, but here’s my tip for wrestling it down and making it easy.  I take any type of winter squash, poke it 5-6 times with a knife or folk and microwave it for 20-30 minutes (my microwave is small and not too powerful—so it may take less time in yours.) I let it sit on the counter until it’s cooled enough to handle, and then slice it open for further cooling.  Once it’s precooked and cooled, it’s easy to handle.  You can easily scoop out the seeds and flesh to cut it up or mash it—whatever your recipe requires.

Want some ideas for using squash?  Go to: Price Chopper Recipes and you’ll find 150 quick and easy squash recipes.  I’ve included some of my favorite one’s for butternut & buttercup squash—both are on sale this week!

Quick Ideas for Using Squash in Everyday Meals

 Recipe Ideas using this week’s Sale items

Grilled Salmon & Zucchini and Red Pepper Sauce  and   Butternut Squash Pilaf

Garden Chicken and Rice  or

Penne with Braised Squash & Greens

For dessert try

Squash Cheesecake Bars

Or make some muffins or bread

Squash Tea Bread  or Pumpkin Muffins

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  One thought on “Squash It!

  1. September 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Cut your favorite squash or Zucchini in half, long way. Scoop out the middle seeds and create a deep well. Make a batch of beefy or turkey Sloppy Joe’s, fill the center (just heap in on) of the squash with the Sloppy Joe mixture cover with foil and set it in a 350 over for 30 minutes or until the flesh of the squash has softened. (it will vary by size) Remove from the oven, remove the foil, sprinkle the top with shredded cheddar cheese and place it back in the oven for 10 or so minutes or until the cheese has melted. Cut into slices and serve this yummy and hearty fall dinner, my kids love it (and they forget they are eating squash…See you soon

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