I love the fall because there are so many great things to look forward to like the gorgeous foliage and, of course, Thanksgiving! But, one of my utter favorites are the bins full of winter squash to be found at farmer’s markets and grocery stores. It is such a treat to see all of the various sizes, beautiful colors and shapes.
And squash is no slouch in the nutrition department either. They not only are a beautiful addition to your plate, they also provide healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and several vitamins like A, B, C, D, and K. Love it!
Now there are many different varieties of winter squash. But here are the top five varieties and tips on how to select and prepare them:
Hubbard squash are available in a wide variety of colors, ranging from dark green to bright orange. When selecting one, you want to look for one that is firm and blemish free with a shiny, deep-colored skin.
Butternut squash are large with very thick skins and beige flesh. Look for one free of blemishes and with no soft spots. Because it’s so big, you may be tempted to purchase it already cubed or pureed, but give this a try: Wash and pierce the squash several times and then microwave for 2-3 minutes. Then use a vegetable peeler to easily remove the thick skin and dice the softened flesh to roast, boil or steam. Easy peasy!
Sugar pumpkins are typically called “pie pumpkins.” They’re usually small with a smooth texture and are used to make those delicious pumpkin pies that are so beloved this time of year. I know I love them! I also love to roast the seeds to use in salads. Yum! Sugar pumpkins differ from the jack-o-lantern variety that we carve at Halloween. Those larger pumpkins are edible, but tend to be watery and less sweet and not so great for pie making.
This guy is easily recognized because it’s shaped like an acorn! Acorn squash is so delicious and can be used in a variety of ways. I love to use it in soups, stews, and even vegan chilis. You want to pick ones that are deep in color (white, green or gold), firm and with no blemishes. The skin of the acorn squash is a bit thinner and will slice easily with the skin on for roasting either in halves or wedges.
I saved my very favorite for last! Spaghetti squash has grown quite popular because it’s a great substitute for real spaghetti. When you scrape its cooked flesh with a fork, it separates into stringy strands that are very reminiscent of spaghetti. Top it with your favorite pesto or marinara sauce with plenty of vegetables and you’ll have a plate full of fabulous fiber-rich nutrients!
The easiest way to prepare most any squash it to simply slice it in half, clean out the seeds, and then roast it flesh down for about 45 minutes at 350°F. You can just remove the flesh at this point and serve or include it in another dish like soup. This year, try some different varieties that you might not have had before. It will be a delicious adventure, I promise!
I want to wish you all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. To your good health!