The Health Advantages Of Butternut Squash
The butternut squash is widely available, versatile, easy to prepare and brimming with nutritional benefits.
Butternut squash is a rich, flavourful winter squash harvested in late summer or early autumn when the rind is hard, which differs from summer squash that you harvest when the outer covering is tender. In addition to its wide availability, versatility and ease of preparation, butternut squash is brimming with nutritional benefits.
Butternut squash provides ample amounts of fibre, which promotes a healthy digestive system and may help prevent certain types of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes. Because of the deep colour of the flesh, the squash is rich in beta-carotene, which changes to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important in many ways, promoting healthy vision, skin and bones. In addition, butternut squash contains potassium, calcium, protein and folate. A cup of cooked butternut squash contains about 80 calories and is free of cholesterol and fat.
Because it has a hard rind, butternut squash stores well and is available in supermarkets for most of the winter. If you grow your own butternut squash, you can store it easily in a cool, dark place. Store only squash with the stems intact, and use stem-less squash within a few days. In the supermarket, choose butternut squash that feels solid and heavy in relation to its size. Avoid squash with cracks, bruises or soft spots. Avoid squash with soft rinds, which indicates that the squash isn't ripe.
Because of it's creamy, smooth texture and mild, slightly sweet flavour, butternut squash complements a variety of savoury or sweet flavours. For example, add butternut squash to a soup made with ingredients such as chicken broth, cheese, chopped onion, garlic and savoury seasonings such as oregano, sage or basil. On the sweet side, butternut squash pairs with apples, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Ease of Preparation
Prepare butternut squash using a variety of simple methods. Baking retains the nutrients of the squash while accenting the sweet flavour. Boiling is a quick method, but the trade-off for the speedy cooking time is the loss of nutrients into the water. Steaming the squash in a basket over simmering water is a better option and retains most of the nutrients. Butternut squash is also microwaved or sautéed. The cooked squash is ready to eat as is or to use in recipes. Many recipes call for pureed squash -- easy to accomplish in a blender or food processor. Cooked butternut squash is also easy to freeze and retains quality for up to a year.