Veggie & Fruit of the Week

Squash

squash

 

There are many different kinds of squash. The types that originated in the Americas and are commonly sold throughout Canada are called Winter Squash. Common varieties of Winter Squash include Buttercup, Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti and Pumpkin. Winter squash are different than Summer Squash (zucchini) because they are picked after they have fully matured. Therefore, they have harder shells and longer cooking times, which contributes to longer storage times and a sweeter taste.

Butternut – look like large pears with long necks. They are a light beige colour on the outside and a bright orange colour on the inside

Buttercup – have either a parachute or crown shape. They are dark green on the outside and a smooth, sweet orange colour on the inside (similar to sweet potatoes)

Acorn – look like large acorns with a hard, dense green shell with orange stripes. They have a yellow-orange flesh on the inside

Spaghetti – oval-shaped, yellow on the outside and inside. The flesh inside, once cooked, separates into strands just like spaghetti

Pumpkin – Round and orange on the outside and inside, they come in many different sizes. Commonly used to make jack-o-lanterns at Halloween but are also edible

All varieties of squash are excellent sources of beta-carotene and potassium. Beta-carotene gives the squash its bright yellow-orange colour and acts as an antioxidant, which may help reduce risk of some chronic diseases and keep skin looking healthy. Potassium can help lower blood pressure while also playing an important role in keeping our kidneys, muscles and digestive systems healthy.

 

Buying:

Look for squash with dry surfaces with no soft spots or bruises. Squash can bruise easily, despite its hard outer shell.

 

Storing:

Squash should be stored in a cool, dry place and can be kept under these conditions for 2-4 months. Once they are cut open, they should be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.

 

Preparing:

All varieties can be cooked with their skin on so it is important to wash thoroughly under cold water before cutting. It is easiest to cut squash in half, and scoop out the seeds from both sides. It is then ready to roast, grill, bake or microwave!

 

Cooking:

  • Once halved and seeds scooped out, any Winter Squash can be baked at 375°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour (cut side down on a baking sheet).
  • The soft flesh, once cooked, can be eaten out of the skin with a little margarine and cinnamon added. It can also be scooped out and mashed or cubed and then added to rice, pasta, risotto or pureed in soups.
  • To microwave whole, pierce the skin in many places, cook on High for 8-12 minutes (turn halfway through) or until flesh is soft to touch. Let stand for 5-10 minutes. Then cut in half and remove seeds and flesh to use as desired.
  • Squash can be grilled on the BBQ by cutting into cubes and placing on skewers. Coat with honey, ginger or chili powder for added flavour.

 

Winter squash is in season from August through to March so there is lots of time to try all the different varieties!

 

Recipes!

Here are some creative ways to include squash in your next meal!

Easy Squash Risottohttps://www.ontario.ca/foodland/recipes/easy-squash-risotto

Mac and “Squeese”: https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Child/Toddler-Nutrition/Mac-and-Squeese.aspx (This recipe blends butternut squash in with the cheese sauce to add extra nutrition and bright colour to the traditional Mac and Cheese!)

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash: http://www.halfyourplate.ca/recipe/stuffed-spaghetti-squash/

 

 

 

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