squash

November Fruit of the Month: Squash

The November Fruit of the Month is Squash!

Did you know…

Even though squash is technically classified as fruit, for cooking purposes squash it treated like a vegetable.

Archaeological evidence gathered from Canada to South America shows people have known about the benefits of squash for almost 10,000 years. For generations, people relied on two primary sources of food to get through the winter months: wild game, and nutrient-dense plants that keep well… like squash! That means craving Mom’s squash soup or pumpkin pie is more than just nostalgic– those complex carbohydrates can come in handy when the temperatures drop.

Summer squash tend to have a relatively long growing season. They are planted in the spring and early summer, but are readily available well into the fall and early winter. There are many different types, including the popular zucchini and common yellow/crookneck squash; as well as the pattypan, which comes in shades of yellow, green, cream, and even white. A medium summer squash (6-8″ long) contains about 70 calories and is a great sources of fiber and potassium. All have a mild flavor and can be shredded (skins and all) for soups or sauces, or can be baked or grilled.

Winter squash arrive in supermarkets or farmer’s markets late summer through late winter. These heartier varieties have a thicker outer shell which allows them to keep for longer periods of time. Butternut, acorn, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash are some of the more well-known types, but there are plenty of unusual shapes and colors to add to your table like the blue hokkaido, the plump cheese (aka Cinderella pumpkins), the cheerfully-striped delicata, the speckled kabocha, and the humongous hubbard. Flavors range from mild to nutty to sweet, and all are good candidates for roasting, baking, or pureeing for soups.

All squash are members of the gourd family, and they are super nutritious. High in dietary fiber, beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and an assortment of phytonutrients, squash is far from an empty-calorie food choice.

Squash is quite versatile too:

  • Almost every type of squash can be used as a substitute for pumpkin
  • Squash can be stuffed with meat, fruit, and nuts for a sensational baked meal
  • It can be chunked and roasted as a flavorful side dish
  • Squash serves as a hearty base for soups and stews
  • Dinner and decoration: squash can also be the centerpiece of your fall or winter table!

With its dense texture, squash makes it easy to use in hearty soups, casseroles, breads, and desserts. Here is a link to a video to show you how to prepare your winter squash.

Helpful Squash Equivalents:

  • 1/3 to 1/2 pound raw unpeeled squash = 1 serving
  • 1 pound peeled squash = 1 cup cooked, mashed
  • 2-1/2 pounds whole squash = 2-3/4 to 3 cups pureed
  • 1 pound trimmed squash = 2 cups cooked pieces
  • 1 pound squash = 2 to 3 servings
  • 12 ounces frozen squash = 1-1/2 cups
  • 1 medium-size (15 to 20 pounds) pumpkin = 5 to 7 quarts of cooked squash

You can’t beat squash– a great all-around choice for the dinner table. Just don’t be surprised when your family starts asking you to cook the Autumn centerpiece you spent all that time arranging.

Learn more about squash and make a delicious butternut squash soup.

Sources:
Eat Well Live Well CampaignPick It! Try It! Like It!, Harvard School of Public Health, and Iowa State Extension.

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