Happy fall! In case you haven’t noticed, the butternut squash are everywhere. I got 2 beauties this weekend at Whole Foods Market for 50 cents/lb. They weighed in at about 3.7 pounds each which came to about $1.85 per squash. Eating more fresh veggies does not have to break your bank account if you shop smart and look for sales.
I can no longer assume that everyone knows what to do with a butternut squash. They can be a bit intimidating. There are various ways to cook them; today I’m going to explain one of the easiest. Slice it in half, remove the seeds, poke it a bit with a knife, stick it in the oven and let it bake for about an hour. No peeling involved!
How to Bake a Butternut Squash:
Preheat your oven to 450.
Carefully cut your squash in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Some people like to cut off the stem end, however I don’t bother. I start by sticking the knife in the center of the squash and cut from the middle to one end. Then I rotate the squash 180 degrees, reinsert my knife and cut down into it, getting the second half.
Remove all the seeds with a spoon. Mine go into my compost pile outside. You can also save them to roast like pumpkin seeds.
Place the two halves on a baking sheet and stab your knife into the flesh several times. Bake cut side up for about one hour. I let this one cook for an hour and ten minutes.
Check for tenderness with a knife or fork. Some people say to bake them cut side down in a little water to steam-cook them, but I think they come out better dry roasted this way. Try it one way with one half and the other way with the other half and see what you prefer!
Let the halves cool down a bit and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
At this point you can either eat it as is, seasoned with a little salt and pepper or drizzled with sauce OR you can put it into a food processor to purée. It is delicious made either savory or sweet. For savory try pureeing with tamari and for sweet add in some maple syrup and cinnamon.
Last night I used one of my favorite sauces, and enjoyed it with steamed kale and shrimp (not pictured).
One of the sauces I have been loving lately:
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to eat your squash, do an internet search! Check out one of my favorite recipes (warning: it involves peeling the tough skin and chopping the hard, unbaked flesh– a mild workout). It’s worth the effort!: Butternut and Black Bean Chili.
I recently used baked butternut squash like canned pumpkin and made my own crust-less pumpkin pie. I tossed the squash, tofu, dates, maple syrup, spices and a little soy milk into the vitamix and let it go to work, pureeing it nice and creamy smooth. Just spread into a pie dish and bake… yum, just like pumpkin pie! But healthier!
Squash is one of the many ways to add more veggies to your diet. And, as if we didn’t need more evidence that a plant-based diet is the way to go for maximum health and disease prevention, the latest research shows that there has been a dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s disease in Japan and this is linked to diet. Dietary changes were investigated and the largest changes were: an increase in alcohol, animal fat, meat, calories from animal products, and a decrease in rice. The shift from a traditional Japanese diet of around 15% animal products to a more Western (American-style) diet heavy in animal products is associated with this rapid rise in Alzheimer’s disease in Japan.
“The mechanisms linking animal products and meat to risk of AD include iron from meat, which increases oxidative stress, and arachidonic acid from meat, which can increase inflammation in the brain, and cholesterol from all animal products.”
“The important message from this study is that AD rates globally are strongly linked to diet, especially in midlife, and that unless per capita consumption of animal products and total energy is reduced, AD rates will continue to remain high.” (Science Daily)
More veggies please!