The Beauty of Butternut Squash

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.

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