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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash:

About:

Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) is a type of winter squash with a sweet nutty taste similar to a pumpkin.  It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp.  When it ripens it turns increasingly deep orange and becomes sweeter and richer.  Although a fruit butternut squash is used as a vegetable. 

History:

Modern day squash developed from the wild squash that originated in an area between Guatemala and Mexico.  While squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years it was originally cultivated for its seeds.  Christopher Columbus brought back squash to Europe from the New World.

My Story:

I remember having butternut squash as a kid.  My mother would have it every once in a while.  She would buy it frozen.  It came in a brick and you would defrost and cook it in a saucepan.  I don't remember any other winter squash coming frozen like that.  At any rate it was always a treat to have.  I still enjoy butternut squash  and buy it whenever it's at a good price. 

Uses:

Butternut squash can be roasted, toasted, pureed for soups or mashed and used in casseroles, bread, and muffins.  In Australia it is regarded as a pumpkin and is used interchangeable with other types of pumpkin.

Nutrition:

Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.  It is also an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

Health Benefits:

Butternut squash, as a winter squash, has outstanding antioxidant benefits.  No other single food provides a greater percentage of certain carotenoids than winter squash.  The same properties that make cucurbitacins potentially toxic to some animals and microorganisms make it effective as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory when we consume them in winter squash.
Many studies suggest that increasing consumption of plant foods like butternut squash decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and overall mortality while promoting a better complexion and increased energy and overall lower weight.

Season:

Butternut squash is available year round.  The peak season is September through March.

Selecting and Storing:

Select butternut squash that are firm, heavy for their size, and have dull, not glossy rinds.  Avoid soft rinds and any signs of decay.  Winter squash can be kept for a week up to 6 months.  It should be kept away from exposure to direct light and should not be subjected  to extreme heat or extreme cold.


Preparation:

 One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is to roast it.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise (You can put the whole squash in the microwave for one minute to soften it a little, so it will be easier to cut.  Remove the stem and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Lightly brush the cut sides with oil and put cut side down on a baking sheet.   Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees F.   The seeds are edible either raw or cooked.  The skin is also edible and softer when roasted.   If you prefer to remove the skin it  can be done with a vegetable peeler or knife. 


So ..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll  show you how.

Simple but Good......

Roasted Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash - peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garalic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss butternut squash with olive oil and garlic in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet.
Roast in preheated oven until squash is tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.


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