Featured Vegetable: Winter Squash
Just like snowflakes, winter squash come in a variety of shapes and sizes with no two looking exactly the same. Some popular members of the winter squash family include acorn, butternut and spaghetti.
Did you know that winter squash originated in the Americas and was initially cultivated for its seeds? Not only was this vegetable a staple in the Colonists diet, it was also used by Native Americans who would frequently bury the deceased with winter squash to provide nourishment after death. The crop eventually traveled westward and now California leads US production.
Squash packs a nutritious punch! One cup of cubed, cooked winter squash, on average, provides an excellent source of vitamins A and C in addition to being a good source of potassium and fiber – all for less than 100 calories! Squash is a great food to help fill you up for few calories – which can help you to manage your weight. What about other health benefits? Squash contains phytonutrients like carotenoids that are powerful antioxidants and may play a role in immune system function. Don't toss the seeds in the trash just yet! The seeds contain healthy oils - specifically omega-6, linolenic and oleic fatty acids – so lightly roast the seeds and enjoy as a snack or a crunchy topping in salads.
Squash is a food for all ages. Butternut squash, in particular, is a simple food to puree for babies. One squash also goes a long way. Cook and puree the squash then portion into ice cube trays and freeze. When you are ready to use pop out 1 or 2 portions and defrost in the microwave! Have picky toddlers or want to make mealtime fun? Try some of these tips. On a snowy winter night – make a side dish squash snowman – scoop butternut or acorn squash using an ice cream scoop, cookie scoop and finally a melon baller for the top! Get creative and add raisin eyes and a marshmallow hat. For older kids, cut an acorn squash in wedges like watermelon and let them use their hands to eat it.
For the generations not so focused on the "fun factor" but looking for the lure of aroma, flavor and affordability – you won't want to squash these ideas. Butternut squash can be cooked quickly by steaming and works well in soups, bisques and stews. Spaghetti squash can be substituted for pasta and topped with any sauce you choose. This substitution cuts more than 150 calories per 1 cup serving! Acorn squash makes a beautiful and delicious side dish seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar or stuffed with dried cranberries, chopped apples and nuts. Don't have time to cook fresh squash? Try Campbell's® Homestyle Butternut Squash bisque or Campbell's® Gourmet Golden Butternut Squash bisque as a delicious, satisfying, and comforting snack or meal starter. Campbell's KitchenSM offers lots of great squash recipes to get you started, so check out the recipes below!
A Closer Look at Some Popular Varieties
Acorn – Unique sweet and sometimes nutty flavor; great for baking, roasting, steaming
Nutritional Highlights: (1 cup cubed) ~115 calories, excellent source of potassium and vitamin A, C and fiber.
Butternut – Sweet, nutty flavor similar to pumpkin; mashes and purees smoothly, great in soups and bisques and can be substituted for pumpkin in recipes
Nutritional Highlights: (1 cup cubed) ~80 calories, excellent source of vitamin A and C and fiber.
Spaghetti – Mild flavor; once cooked flesh pulls apart in strands like spaghetti noodles; can be substituted for pasta in dishes.
Nutritional Highlights: (1 cup) ~40 calories, 2 grams fiber.