As you begin adding more whole plant foods to your diet, you'll want to take advantage of the many health benefits that Winter squash has to offer. These vegetables are very flavorful and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. They can steamed, grilled, mashed or baked and are perfect for soups/chili and side dishes. Serving stuffed squash as the main dish is very popular especially for Thanksgiving and special occasions. For ideas on how to stuff a squash, see the recipe from Happy Herbivore or The Plant Based Dietitian.
Medical studies show that the components in Winter squash help to regulate insulin and prevent inflammation. While each type of squash varies in shape, color, size and flavor, they share many characteristics. These mildly sweet vegetables are an important food source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For example, squashes are excellent sources of dietary fiber, Vitamins A, B2, C, B6 and K, manganese, copper, potassium, folate, magnesium, niacin, pantothenic acid, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin. Additionally, one cup of baked winter squash provides approximately 340 milligrams of omega-3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Adding squash to your meal plan is an important part of my Starch-Smart System. Likewise, eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables every day is not only part of a heart-healthy diet, it supports a robust immune system that offers powerful protection against acute and chronic disease. In fact, why not try out my favorite foods for breakfast, which are Beans, Greens, Squash and Yams!
Try a new variety of Winter squash every time you go to the store. Choose squash that are heavy for their size, are firm (not soft) and dull (not shiny) on the outside. Cutting through the hard shell can be tricky, but easily mastered. The video above, created by Whole Foods Market, demonstrates how simple it can be.