Seasonal Spotlight: Butternut Squash
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Seasonal Spotlight: Butternut Squash

As a busy registered dietitian, I love healthy, quick and easy, and affordable recipes that I can prepare ahead. I also like variety. This time of year, nothing checks all of my boxes like butternut squash. This fall fave is just $1.50 per pound fresh, so you can set up a whole week of healthy satisfying low-cost dinners your family will love.

The Nutrition Profile
Butternut squash pulls its weight in the nutrition department. One cup of butternut cubes has only 63 calories but 11 percent of your daily recommended fiber and a staggering 48 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C. It’s also high in potassium.

One Pan Wonder
To set up a great week of butternut-themed recipes, start by peeling and removing the seeds from three large squashes. Dice them, toss them in olive oil, spread in a single layer on one or more sheet pans, and cook them in a 350-degree oven until tender, about 40 minutes. Roasting in this way caramelizes the sugars on the outside of the squash, which contributes to great flavor. Once you try it this way, you will never boil squash again! Once cool, store in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Sunday: Roasted Vegetables
Prepare other vegetables (like carrots, parsnips, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and others) as listed above and toss them together with the butternut squash; your favorite nuts, toasted; and some dried cranberries for a delicious and healthy meal. Serve as a side with your favorite protein.

Monday: Crockpot Butternut Bisque
Combine one butternut squash, peeled and diced (Consider buying pre-chopped for a time-saver.); 2 cups of apples or pears, chopped; 1 carton of vegetable stock; a sash of cinnamon; and salt and pepper to taste in a crockpot, and cook all day on low. Blend until smooth and enjoy.

Tuesday: Pasta with Butternut Sauce, Spicy Sausage, and Baby Spinach
This recipe only takes 45 minutes to prepare and is so worth it. The butternut makes a deliciously creamy sauce without the cream! And with just a little bit of meat, it is sure to become a family favorite. If you’re crunched for time, try your favorite mac ‘n’ cheese recipe, swapping out white pasta for whole grain pasta and replacing some of the cheese for butternut puree. Butternut adds great flavor, and with it’s pleasant orangey color, the kids might not notice they are eating a veggie.

Wednesday: Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, Feta, and Spinach
Repurpose some of your walnuts and cranberries from Sunday night in a delicious salad. Just toss the ingredients together with a tablespoon or so of olive oil per serving and a drizzle of lemon juice or your favorite vinegar. Voila!

Thursday: Quesadilla with Butternut and Spinach
Start with a whole grain tortilla. Fill half with a few 1-inch cubes of Monterey jack cheese shredded, some cubes of roasted butternut squash, and spinach. If you happen to have cooked chicken or black beans on hand, either would make a great addition to this dish. Fold in half and heat both sides in a shallow pan until the tortilla is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. It’s a 5-minute dinner.

Friday: Pizza with Butternut Squash and Sage
This is a great opportunity to try out a fast and easy whole grain pizza dough recipe. There
are many options that show up in online searches. Most grocery stores also have frozen pre-made whole wheat pizza dough for a short-cut.  Add tomato sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, some roasted butternut squash, and ground sage for a winning flavor combo.

Saturday: Butternut & Eggs
Heat your roasted butternut in a shallow pan with a little olive oil. Move the butternut to the outside of the pan and cook two eggs in the middle. Layer the butternut on a plate with the eggs on top, and serve with whole-grain toast. It’s a feel-good version of breakfast at your favorite diner.

I hope you give this superstar vegetable a try in one or all of these healthy, tasty, quick, and affordable recipes.

Kristin Irace, RD, is a registered dietitian with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington.


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