The yellow and rust colors of fall have made me hungry for the sweet, fleshy meat of winter squash. Butternut, crook neck, turban and acorn are shaped differently but offer very similar nutritional payloads. The deep orange color is packed, I mean packed with vitamin A and beta-carotene. One half cup of cooked squash can have 100-200% of the RDA for this essential vitamin as well as 25% of the RDA of vitamin C. Fat free and salt free, one half cup has 120 calories and 12 grams of carbs. By comparison, the same amount of a white potato has about 60 calories and the same amount of carbs.
Given the slightly stringy/gritty texture of winter squash I expected squash to be a good source of fiber. I was wrong. In fact one cup of winter squash has less than a single gram of fiber. Squash also has a Glycemic Index (GI) of 70. Since current recommendations are to stay with foods with a GI below 50, winter squash should not be an everyday menu item. To keep the GI from going higher, avoid adding ingredients like brown sugar,honey or dried fruit to a squash recipe.
Winter squash is super verrsitile. It can be roast in its shell or in peeled cubes, steamed, sauteed, mashed, or made into soups, ravioli or spreads. Just keep in mind that it has about twice the calories of a white potato. Given that squash is not nearly as healthy as it looks, I like to cook it simply to avoid adding calories or carbs. I’ve found that roasted peeled squash helps me keep to a healthy portion size, while a roasted half has more carbs and calories than an entire meal. I like to use squash to brighten up a meal but serve it only about twice a month.
Roast Butternut Squash
Ingredients: 1 whole butternut squash, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon,
Steps: Preheat the oven to 400F. Peel the squash, take out the seeds and cut the squash into 2 inch cubes. Toss with cinnamon and oil and place on a baking sheet. Make sure the cubes are in a single layer and not touching. Roast for 25 minutes, turning after 10 minutes.