This time of year I love to stock up on my favorite types of squash red kuri and hubbard squash. In Maryland, year round, you can find butternut squash, acorn and spaghetti but the red kuri seem to disappear after November and they will last a few months if you keep them in a cool space that is not well lit.
Though all varieties of squash are excellent choices nutritionally, winter varieties tend to be more nutrient-dense. They generally contain much more beta-carotene and more B vitamins than summer squash.
Winter squash come in many sizes and shapes, and include:
- Acorn Squash
- Blue Hokkaido Pumpkin
- Butternut Squash
- Cheese Pumpkins
- Delicata Squash
- Hubbard Squash
- Kabocha Squash
- Red Kuri Pumpkins
- Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkins
- Spaghetti Squash
- Sugar Pie Pumpkins
- Sweet Dumpling Squash
- Turban Squash
- White Pumpkins
Winter squash provide significant amounts of:
- potassium (important for bone health)
- vitamin B6 (essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems)
- folate (helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects)
- fiber (promotes a healthy gut and protects against colon cancer)
- carotenoids (protect against cancer and heart disease)
- very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A)
Other health benefits of winter squash:
- With only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C and plenty of fiber.
- The beta-carotene in butternut squash benefits fighting against cancer, heart disease, and cataracts.
- Beta-carotene may also play a role in reducing lung inflammation and emphysema.
- Winter squash is as delicious as it is colorful. These hard, tasty squash can fill up your garden as they are simple to grow and are tremendously satisfying. Squash are an extremely healthy addition to your diet. I love to eat them for breakfast, make large pots of soup, prepare vegan mousse for pie fillings, raw breads, and even as a soufflé for a more traditional dessert.
Spiced Carrot Butternut Squash Soup with Pine Nut Cream
Pine Nut Cream
1/2 C pine nuts (macadamia work well too, cashew are a more cost effective solution), soaked 2 hours
1/8 C water
1-2 Tbsps lemon juice
1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
Dash of cayenne
3 C fresh carrot juice
3/4 C butternut squash, cubed
1/4 C sliced leeks (white part)
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 sliver of fresh ginger
5 fennel seeds
1 tsp fresh thyme
3/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 medium-sized, ripe avocado
Place all ingredients except avocado into a high speed blender and process until smooth. If you like a warm soup, blend for two minutes. Pour into soup bowls and serve with pine nut cream. Soup will keep for 3-4 days in refrigerator. Pine nut cream will last approximately one week stored in the refrigerator.