You know the seasons are changing when, aside from the foliage reflecting hues of crimson, brown, and gold, the stands at your favorite grocery store or farmers market are bursting with these warm colors. This beautiful time of year brings all things warm and cozy, including delicious and warming recipes. One of my favorites? Squash! A vegetable, originating in Central America that was originally cultivated for its seeds, is now found in recipes around the world and a favorite thanks to its rich, sweet flavor!
Squash is a chi-tonic and warming food, which makes it medicinal to many areas of the body including the stomach, spleen, and large intestine. Packed with generous amounts of nutrients, these vegetables are a GREAT source of natural sweetness, carbohydrates (providing starch), and alpha and beta-carotenes. The unique carotenoid complex along with the significant amount of Vitamin C (about 1/3 cup of recommended daily value in every cup) makes them a winning choice with their high level of antioxidant support. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber.
Now, would you have ever thought these superfood vegetables would have been a part of the melon family? Well… they are. Squash actually belongs to the melon and gourd family or Curcurbitaceae. A wide variety of squash including acorn, butternut, pumpkin, kabocha, and others accompany many other family members including cucumber, zucchini, pear, watermelon, and so on. Feeding humanity for centuries, the origin of this families many members, span the world.
Unlike summer squash, winter squash is eaten when fully matured. They are available from August through March, but are best when in their peak season- October through November. When choosing yours, look for one heavy for weight with a firm rind. Soft rinds can be an indication that the squash is watery and has little to no flavor. A good squash will be overflowing with delicious, rich flavor. Also check for soft spots or signs of decay, for these blemishes can manifest and spoil the entire vegetable.
Another unique characteristic of squash is their ability to act as the main starch component of a meal. With about 90% of its calories coming from starch, we recognize squash is a very starchy vegetable. Now, I know what you may be thinking. Isn’t that… maybe... not the greatest? On the contrary! Research shows that not all starch is the same and with this starch in particular, there are great health benefits including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and insulin-regulating properties. Remember, it is important to eat these vegetables with a healthy fat to ensure maximum nutrient absorption! I recommend organic grass fed butter and coconut oil….yum.
The transition into the Autumn and Winter seasons, bring a chilly breeze, cozy sweaters, and kitchens filled with captivating aromas. That means… it’s time to head to the kitchen! Check out Tammy's favorite recipe below! Some of my favorites include Spaghetti Squash, Beet & Brussels and Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Kale. Take a look at these other fall recipes and try experimenting with different flavors at home!
Written by Ashley Green for The Nourished Belly
Fall is the time for winter squash. These really are such a treat. For this soup, you can use any squash, but Kabocha is one of my favorites. You can even mix them together! I prefer to steam kabocha, since it can be dry if roasted. However, if using another squash such as butternut or acorn, roasting will bring out a sweetness that will be lost in steaming. Simply cut the squash in half, place on a baking sheet face down, and bake for approx 40 minutes!
Coconut Squash Soup
1 medium squash (butternut, kabocha, acorn, or delicata work great!)
1 quart bone broth/veggie broth/water
1/2 can Native Forest Coconut Milk
1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
sea salt to taste
pinch of cinnamon (optional)
handful of cilantro/parsley and pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)
1) Cut Kabocha squash in half , and take out seeds. Put them in the compost.
2) Cut into large cubes, you’ll blend everything together later, you just want the pieces to cook quicker.
3) In a large pot, place kabocha cubes with 1 inch of water. Put over medium heat. Cover.
4) When the water starts to steam, turn down heat and cook for 10 minutes or until a fork slides through easily.
5) While the squash is steaming, slice onions into slices and heat a sauté pan on medium heat.
6) Place coconut oil or butter in the pan and put in onions and minced ginger. Sauté for 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
7) Once kabocha is finished, add in onions, ginger, chicken broth and the coconut milk.
8) Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
9) Simmer for another 10 minutes. Add filtered water if you desire a more liquid consistency, or more coconut milk.
10) Add salt to taste and serve with cilantro/parsley or pumpkin seeds
- Wood, R., Pitchford, P., Markel, P. (2010). The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: An A to Z of Selection, Preparation and Storage for More Than 1000 Common and Uncommon Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Herbs. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
- Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods: The Most Comprehensive, User-friendly A to Z Guide Available on the Nutritional benefits and Medicinal Properties of Food. New York, NY: Atria Books.
- Organic For All, Inc. The Cucurnitaceae Family. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from http://www.organicsforall.org/vegetables5.htm
- Drummond, R. (2013, Nov 11). Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Kale. Retrieved from http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/11/roasted-spaghetti-squash-with-kale/
- J Dean. (2013, Oct 5). Spaghetti Squash, Beets & Brussels. Retrieved from http://www.deliciouslivingnutrition.com/spaghetti-squash-beet-brussels/
- George Mateljan Foundation. Squash, Winter. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63