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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Winter Squash

As the days get shorter and the weather forces you indoors for long stretches of dormant time, a regular dose of winter squash packs a healthy boost of blues-quelling B-complex vitamins.

Green Giant Fresh Winter Squash

The most common varieties of winter squash include: Butternut squash, Acorn squash, Hubbard squash, Turban squash, and the sweet Japanese Kabocha squash varietal.

Right now is the optimum time to buy winter squash, because the thick skin allows for longer shelf life in the winter months when other fresh vegetables might be harder to come by. You can store unmarred winter squash for up to six months in temperatures between 45 and 60 degree Fahrenheit.

You should make sure to select less shiny members of the winter squash brigade because a more matte fruit tends to be sweetest. Shiny skin is a sign your squash was probably uprooted just a tad early for maximum deliciousness. Choose unbruised, unmarred squash with at least an inch or two of stem left intact for greatest longevity.

  • Cooking With Winter Squash – Tip No. 1: Always rinse the outer shell of your winter squash with cool water before cutting. This will ensure that any toxins are removed from the shell and do not enter the meaty edible areas of your food when you cut into the vegetable.

In addition to a healthy dose of Omega 3, nutrient and energy-rich carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory agents and the ever-important Vitamin C, the polysaccharides found in winter squash have been demonstrated to help regulate blood sugar and insulin. And starch-averse individuals can rest easy when they learn that the type of carbohydrate in winter squash is in the form of anti-inflammatory, anti-insulin, appetite-suppressing homogalacturonan.

An avalanche of anti-oxidant Vitamin A awaits you in every savory bite of the abundantly varied winter squash family, and it’s not just their meat that’s good for you. Winter squash seeds are rife with linoleic acid, the power-packed Omega-6 touted for maintaining healthy cholesterol and reducing fat mass.

Who doesn’t want an anti-cancer, lean-body friendly solution to their dietary quandaries? Nobody, that’s who.

  • Cooking With Winter Squash – Tip No. 2: One of the quickest methods of preparing winter squash is to steam it. After rinsing thoroughly, cut the meaty part of the squash into 1- inch cubes and steam for about 7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, and if your diet allows, a little butter can’t hurt. Maybe even some nutmeg or cinnamon! Remember to reserve the seeds. Toast them at 375 degrees on a cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes to preserve maximum nutritional value.

Once upon a time, squash was valued primarily for its seeds. Dating back 10,000 years, the history of squash in human consumption has its origins in Guatemala and Mexico. By the time Christopher Columbus returned home and began spreading the harvest across Europe, the crossbreeding and cultivation of squash resulted in a meatier vegetable with fewer seeds.

Some of its relatives include watermelon and zucchini. Thicker-skinned squash are also known as gourds.

  • Cooking With Winter Squash – Tip No. 3: If you want a really easy prep, baking winter squash whole is the ideal fuss-free method of preparing this vegetable. Simply rinse, then halve the squash or pierce the skin with a paring knife several times. Bake for a little more than an hour at 375 degrees for the average-sized squash. Scoop out the seeds and serve with seasoning to taste.

Now that dog days are over, the Hallows have done their haunting, the saints came out to play, and there’s a chill in the air, winter squash, offers a savory and nutritious warm-up for your go-to recipe cache.

 

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