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5 winter squashes you need for better health right now

Why do we love them? Mainly for their wide assortment and amazing health benefits. Not only are there dozens of colorful varieties, but they are also among the other highly nutritious frontrunners. These beautiful fruits (even though most of us thought they were vegetables) are rich in minerals, fiber, and essential vitamins. If stored properly, they’ll feed you hearty, comforting meals until springtime. Plus, they are super easy to prepare... And eat!

Here are the top 5 winter squashes with powerful health benefits that you can find in most grocery stores:

1. Butternut Squash
This lovely sweet and buttery squash has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune support all wrapped up into one gourd. It’s a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin B-2 and omega-3 fatty acids. It has even higher levels of beta-carotene that the body naturally converts to vitamin A. These nutrients and minerals help protect against the risk of cancer and strengthen immunity. 

Cooking Tip: Get a little something extra by roasting the seeds the same way as pumpkin seeds. 

Pairs well with: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cumin spices.

2. Kabocha Squash
Seen as the pumpkin’s cool relative and also known as a “Japanese Pumpkin.” They are a bit heavy and round, with a lumpy and matte, green or red skin. Inside the flesh is a bright yellowish orange. The flavor is sweet, and nuttier than butternut—almost like chestnuts. The texture is fluffy, smooth, and similar to a mix between a pumpkin and sweet potato. They are packed full of iron, beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C.

Cooking Tip: Use a peeler to get rid of the rind, scallop out the seeds and now it’s ready to roast (even faster). It also is a great addition to soup cut in pieces or puréed.

Pairs well with: Tempura batter, olive oil and sage.

3. Spaghetti Squash
It’s a pale cream color and when cooked, it develops strings that make it naturally look like short spaghetti. This squash is a fantastic low-calorie, low-carb swap for pasta or grains. It has a very mild taste and the consistency can be crunchy or tender, depending on how long it’s heated for. It offers a nice dose of fiber, calcium, zinc and some of the highest concentration of vitamin B-6, which is involved in energy metabolism.

Cooking Tip: Roast or steam it, but be sure to wait for it to cool or use a towel before scrapping fork through the flesh. It’s really hot and you won’t be able to keep it in your hand!

Pairs well with: Any pasta sauce, or olive oil with parsley, red pepper flakes and lemon.

4. Acorn Squash
Also known as the “pepper squash,” resembles an acorn, but has dark green skin with orange patches and dark yellow flesh. They are small with long ridges, a firm exterior and slightly hollow in the center, which makes them great bowls for stuffed ingredients. It has a mellow, faintly nutty and sweet flavor, making it easy to use for both sweet and savory recipes. It’s a good source of fiber and potassium, and smaller amounts of magnesium and vitamins B and C.

Cooking Tip: Can be roasted, steamed, sautéed or baked.

Pairs well with: Stuffed grains or veggies or drizzled with maple syrup and cinnamon.

5. Delicata Squash
They may be small, but they still hold big flavor. Both the make the perfect combination for easy prepping and cooking. Sometimes it’s referred to as sweet potato squash; it has a similar cylindrical shape, thin skin and creamy smooth flesh, although the delicata has a more earthy taste. Add this squash for a big boost of vitamin A with each serving providing almost 75% of your daily requirement! Vitamin A is important for your teeth, skin and eyesight, especially night vision.

Cooking Tip: The skin is edible, so you can slice it and then cook it. Like acorn squash, it makes a great container to hold stuffing.

Pairs well with: Spinach salad, pomegranate seeds, spiced with paprika.Make it even easier to add these beautiful winter gourds into your meals – even breakfast.

Try out the savory croquettes with veggie hash for an extra helping. 

Learn more about Holiday Spotlight: Pumpkin.


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