As the seasons start to change, your diet starts to change as well. The cooler weather seems more ideal for hearty soups and filling, home-cooked meals. And that is completely natural.
This fall, try adding winter squash into your meal plan. The flesh of winter squash can be prepared in a variety of ways – making it easy to incorporate into any recipe. Squash is a source of complex carbohydrates, and is packed with fiber and other nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6. These recommended nutrients are essential for bone health and strengthening your immune system, while fiber aids digestion while keeping you full longer.
The orangey flesh of squash also contains high levels of beta-carotene, a type of organic pigment that the body easily converts to vitamin A. This antioxidant has many health benefits, including preventing cell damage caused by free radicals that can lead to diseases like heart disease and even cancer.
The many varieties of winter squash are the cold weather versions to their summer squash alternatives: zucchinis and pattypans. Try out one (or all) of these winter squash varieties this fall:
- Acorn: You guessed it. This squash gets its name from its shape! Acorn squash are only a couple of pounds and have dark green skin with bright yellow-orange flesh. They have a sweeter taste to them and are small enough that the halves can be served stuffed. While they are available year-round, they are easier to find at the grocery store right around Thanksgiving.
- Butternut: This squash is known best for its beige-colored skin and orange flesh. The butternut squash is one of the sweetest types of winter squash, and it is found in grocery stores throughout the year. The flesh is not stringy making it easy to chop up for roasting, sautéing or pureed into soup or sauces!
- Delicata: This squash is sometimes called the sweet potato squash because of its sweet potato taste when cooked. You can also prepare it like you would a sweet potato. Try roasted or scalloped. Easiest to find in early fall, this squash is characterized by its cylinder shape and pale skin with green or orange stripes.
- Hubbard: This squash isn’t the prettiest to look at, but its bright orange flesh tastes great boiled or in pies. Hubbard squash are large and irregular-shaped with bumpy or “warty” skin that is dark green or blue/gray. Because of its thick skin, this squash keeps the longest. Look for them in early fall and throughout the winter.
- Kabocha: This winter squash is native to Japan and looks a bit like a pumpkin with pale streaks. These squash come in orange or green skin varieties and can be found year-round. Its pale orange flesh has a nutty taste to it. Try substituting kabocha into any recipe calling for winter squash!
- Spaghetti: Spaghetti squash has been popularized recently by its stringy flesh that resembles pasta. It is frequently used as healthy alternative in pasta recipes. Bright yellow, and mild in taste, this squash won’t change dramatically the flavor of a dish. To cook, roast or steam the halves and scrape out the insides with a fork. Peak season is early fall through the winter.
- Buttercup: Like the delicata squash, buttercup squash’s sweet orange flesh can replace sweet potatoes in any recipe. Buttercup squash are part of the turban squash family, identifiable by its turban-like shape and dark green flesh. They are one of the most popular winter squash varieties and can be found in stores throughout the fall and winter.
Want to sit down with a nutrition expert to discuss how to get more nourishment out of your food choices? Schedule an appointment with a Henry Ford registered dietitian nutritionist by calling (313) 874-3095.