Known for its iconic autumn shape and vibrant green speckled-with-yellow color, acorn squash provides an array of nutrients that support optimal health.
These include calcium, potassium and magnesium, each one vital to many physiological processes including the formation and regeneration of bone matter and prevention of osteoporosis. They also play a role in energy metabolism, water balance in the body, and muscle contraction. Other minerals found in smaller amounts in acorn squash include manganese, copper, iron, and zinc.
HOW TO ENJOY ACORN (WINTER) SQUASH
It’s easy to include acorn squash in your meal plans. Available in the winter months (hence the name, Winter Squash), it can be baked, sautéed, steamed, stuffed, pureed for soups, or incorporated into a variety of meat and vegetable dishes.
NUTRIENTS IN ACORN SQUASH
Acorn squash is a good source of Vitamin C, which supports immunity and works as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from oxidative stress that can lead to inflammation and health problems such as cancer or heart disease.
To maximize the amount of vitamin C you receive from acorn squash, use the vegetable within four days after purchase and cut it right before cooking. Steam or bake the squash instead of boiling it to keep vitamin C from being degraded in hot water.
Acorn squash is also high in both fiber and complex carbohydrates. While there aren’t any simple sugars in acorn squash, if you follow a low-carb diet you’ll want to enjoy smaller portions of this vegetable.
ACORN SQUASH SOUP
Savory, creamy winter squash soups are great comfort on cold winter nights. This roasted acorn squash soup is easy to make: a little sautéing, roasting, and blending and you’ll have a hearty soup that is nutritious and filling, as well as low in calories. It’s perfect for a family meal and lunch the next day.
- 1 large acorn squash
- 2 T. olive oil, divided
- 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t. kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 c. unsweetened almond milk
- 2 c. vegetable broth
- Optional: Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for serving (note: use dairy-free versions to meet specific dietary needs)
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Chop the tip and tail off the acorn squash, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard them (or you can roast them like pumpkin seeds–they’re delicious!).
- Drizzle the squash flesh with 1 T. of olive oil; sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Place squash halves on a baking sheet, cut-side down. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft.
- Use a spoon to remove the squash flesh from the skin; discard the skin.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add the squash, sautéed onion and garlic, almond milk, and vegetable broth to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, if desired (note: use dairy-free versions to meet specific dietary needs).
If you have an immersion blender, you can cook the onion and garlic in a Dutch oven, then add the remaining ingredients and blend directly in the pot.
Do you have a favorite winter squash recipe? Share in the comments below!
WorldsHealthiestFoods.com, “Winter Squash.” Accessed 16 September 2017: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63
Shibata, A. et al. “Intake of Vegetables, Fruits, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin Supplements and Cancer Incidence among the Elderly: A Prospective Study.” British Journal of Cancer 66.4 (1992): 673–679. Accessed 16 September 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2364321/
Food.com. “Kitchen Dictionary: Acorn Squash.” Accessed 15 September 2017: http://www.food.com/library/acorn-squash-130
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 11483, Squash, Winter, Acorn, Cooked, Baked, Without Salt. Accessed 16 September 2017: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3252
HarvestoftheMonth.com, “Harvest of the Month: Winter Squash.” Accessed 16 September 2017: http://harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/Documents/Fall/Winter%20Squash/WinterSquash_Fam.pdf#search=acorn%20squash
Recipe Source: https://ohmyveggies.com/roasted-acorn-squash-soup/#299