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Winter Squash: Recipes and Tips

How to buy, store, and cook nutritious winter squash.

2. Butternut Squash continued...

You can buy 10-ounce bags of diced butternut squash (Stahlbush Island Farms brand) in the frozen section of your nearby Whole Foods Market. It doesn't get any more convenient than that!

Use them in:

  • Soups
  • Pasta dishes (even as filling for ravioli)
  • Rice dishes

One cup of cooked, diced butternut squash has:

  • 82 calories, 6 grams fiber
  • Vitamins: 22,867 IU vitamin A (653% DV), 31 mg vitamin C (41% DV), 39 mcg folic acid (10% DV)
  • Minerals: 84 mg calcium (8% DV), 59 mg magnesium (19% DV), 582 mg potassium (12% DV)
  • Bonus: 2.6 mg of vitamin E (18% DV)


3. Spaghetti Squash

A spaghetti squash looks like a small yellow watermelon, and weighs anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds. This squash is usually prepared by cutting it in half lengthwise with a sturdy knife and baking it, cut-side down, in a baking dish with 1/4-inch of water. (At 375 degrees, baking will take about 35 minutes.) Here's the fun part: When you scrape out the inside flesh of the squash halves it easily separates into pasta-like strands.

Use them:

  • As a substitute for pasta in some dishes
  • Served cold as a salad ingredient
  • Topped or dressed with flavorful ingredients for a side dish

One cup of cooked spaghetti squash will give you:

  • 42 calories, 2.2 grams fiber
  • Vitamins: 170 IU vitamin A (5%), 5 mg vitamin C (7%), 12 mcg folic acid (3%)
  • Minerals: 33 mg calcium (3%), 17 mg magnesium (5%), 181 mg potassium (4%)
  • Bonus: 12 grams of heart-healthy plant omega-3 fatty acids

4. Pumpkins

You can't get through October without seeing hundreds of pumpkins -- at the supermarket, on front porches, and atop the desks of co-workers. Pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes. Like other large winter squashes, pumpkin can be cut into smaller pieces, the inside seed part removed, and cooked until the flesh is tender by steaming, microwaving, or roasting. Although many of us use canned pumpkin in our favorite recipes, here is some information on fresh pumpkins.

Use them:

  • Pureed and added to soups, or as a sauce for pasta dishes or filling for lasagna.
  • Roasted and served as a side dish or added to an entrée.
  • Filled with rice, stuffing, or sausage mixtures (for smaller pumpkins).

One cup of fresh, boiled pumpkin will give you:

  • 49 calories, 2.2 grams fiber
  • Vitamins: 2,650 IU vitamin A (76% DV), 12 mg vitamin C (16% DV), 21 mcg folic acid (5% DV)
  • Minerals: 37 mg calcium (4% DV), 22 mg magnesium (7% DV), 564 mg potassium (12% DV)
  • Bonus: 1.7 mg vitamin E (11% of the daily recommendation of 15 mg)

How to Buy, Store, and Cook Winter Squash

When buying winter squash:

  • Choose one that seems heavy for its size and doesn't have any soft spots or cracks.
  • For squash sold in precut pieces (like banana or Hubbard squash), look for pieces with fresh-looking flesh texture and color.

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