Is your supermarket displaying squash, pumpkins, apples, pears, and nuts yet? Mine is. Even in Florida where I live there is a hint of a change to shorter daylight hours and slightly cooler temperatures. It invites your taking home a beautiful hard-shelled butternut, acorn, sweet dumpling,Hubbard, kobucha, or delicata squash, and some pumpkin spice and nuts. Just as you might bring a child to a neighborhood stand or “pumpkin patch” to choose a pumpkin for Hallowe’en, you can take them to the market to choose a squash. One of the virtues of these hard-shelled squash is that they happily survive on a cool shelf or counter and wait for you to use them. Just make sure their skins are whole and unbroken when you buy them.
Squash is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly in Vitamin A, C, B6, and B2, minerals copper, manganese, and potassium. It is a good source of Omega 3 oil, and fiber. Concerns some people have that squash may be high in carbohydrates and spike blood sugar are allayed by its low to medium glycemic index (GI.) Studies have shown that it helps steady the release of sugar in the digestive system after it is eaten. For more on the nutrition facts of hard-shelled or “winter” squash check out the website of the George Mateljian Foundation at http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63
Here is a quick recipe from my book Snacks for Growing Strong:
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Put dabs of margarine over the cut tops and in the hole. Then sprinkle it with ginger and/or cinnamon. Put a teaspoon of maple syrup, brown sugar and/or orange juice in the hole. Wrap each half in microwaveable plastic wrap. Microwave for about 6 minutes if you have a turntable, or microwave about 3 minutes, turn, and cook 3 minutes in the other direction. Let the squash cool before you carefully unwrap it. To eat it, scoop the cooked flesh out of the shell with your spoon or fork.
For a somewhat more elegant dish, prepare a couple of acorn squash as in the above recipe. You can add some fresh cranberries and pear pieces in the cavity. Bake in a baking dish at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Yum! Happy Autumn.