How to Cook Butternut Squash Like a Pro

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Butternut squash is a popular winter squash that belongs to
the Cucurbita moschata species.[i],[ii]
Its slim neck and bulbous bottom give it a distinct elongated pear shape,
and it has an average weight of around 2 to 3 pounds.[iii]
Its thick and smooth cream-colored rind hides its bright orange flesh, which
contains fewer seeds and tastes relatively sweeter and nuttier compared to
other variants of squashes.[iv]

Even though butternut squash is considered a winter squash,
it’s actually a warm-weather crop.[v]
It’s grown in the summer and harvested during early fall to late winter.[vi],[vii]
You can keep it for a month or more, provided that you store it in a cool, dry
place away from direct sunlight.

While other foods lose their nutritional value when stored
for a long time, butternut squash tends to become even more nutritious during
the first two months of storage, as its carotenoids continue to accumulate.

Aside from providing a remarkable amount of nutrients, the
butternut squash is also a versatile ingredient that you can add to different
dishes, which is why it definitely deserves a spot in your kitchen. From soups
to desserts, you can use it to create a variety of mouthwatering meals, as long
as you know the different ways to cook it.

Here’s How to Cook Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is easy to prepare and cook, plus it has a
natural sweet flavor that complements different ingredients. Learning the
different ways to cook this vegetable can be a useful culinary skill,
especially if you need to whip up a tasty dish within minutes.

In order for you to create a delicious meal out of butternut
squash, make sure that you choose one that’s dense and heavy for its size. You
should also check its rind to see if it’s free of cracks, soft spots and other
blemishes.[viii]
Once you have the perfect butternut squash, turn it into a healthy and
satisfying dish using any of the cooking methods below.

How to Puree
Butternut Squash for Soups, Desserts and Baby Food

One of the simplest things that you can do with a butternut
squash is to puree it. This makes for a perfect base ingredient for soups,
desserts and side dishes. Plus, it’s a nutritious meal for babies and kids.
Here’s a simple guide on how to puree butternut squash:[ix],[x]

1.      
Cut the butternut squash lengthwise. Scoop out
the seeds and strings.

2.      
Place the squash on a cookie sheet, cut sides
down, and cook it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until its flesh becomes
soft.

3.      
Allow the squash to cool, then scoop out the
flesh and put it into a blender or food processor. Puree until you achieve the
desired consistency.

4.      
Mix with other veggies, fruits, meats or spices,
if desired.

When pureeing a butternut squash, take care not to include
the skin into the mixture, since it will make the consistency chunky instead of
smooth and velvety.

How to Cook Butternut
Squash in an Oven: Roasted to Perfection

Roasting butternut squash keeps its flesh moist and tender while
caramelizing its exterior, giving your dish a nice contrast in texture. Follow
this easy method from Better Homes and Gardens to roast your butternut squash perfectly
in an oven:[xi]

1.      
Cut the butternut squash in half, then scoop out
the seeds. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash, and then cut it into
1-inch-thick cubes.

2.      
Toss the squash cubes in a bit of coconut
oil
to keep them from drying out while roasting, and then spread them in an
even layer on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and
black pepper.

3.      
Roast in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit,
uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until tender and brown on the edges,
stirring once.

You may also opt to roast butternut squash without peeling
and/or dicing it into cubes. The roasting process can soften its rind, making
it easier to chew.[xii]

How to Cook Butternut
Squash on a Stove

Don’t have an oven? Don’t worry — butternut squash can be
easily cooked on the stove, too. The preparation for stovetop dishes is similar
— you just need to peel the squash, remove its seeds and dice it into cubes if desired.

If you want to fry it in a pan, set the heat to medium-high
and use grass fed butter or coconut oil for frying. Let the squash cook for
several minutes, and then sample a few pieces to see if they’re done to your
liking.[xiii]

You can also steam butternut squash on a stovetop. You simply
boil 1 inch of water in a large pot, put the squash in a steamer basket, and
then place the squash over the boiling water. Be sure to keep the pot covered
and allow the squash to cook for 10 to 20 minutes, or until it’s tender to
bite.[xiv]

Recreate These Delicious Butternut
Squash Recipes

Now that you know some of basic cooking methods that you can
do with a butternut squash, it’s time to show off your culinary prowess. Here
are some hearty and delectable recipes that you should try:

Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or to taste

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon curry powder

Fresh thyme
(optional)

Procedure:

1.      
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.      
Cut the butternut squash in half and remove the
seeds.

3.      
Combine the coconut oil, red pepper flakes,
salt, curry powder and thyme. Rub the mixture on the squash.

4.      
Place the sliced squash face up on a baking
sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until soft. Scoop out the insides of the
squash into a bowl and mix.

Note: If you have
time, you can peel the squash and cut it into cubes to save time when cooking.

Six-Spice Butternut Squash Recipe

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash, under 2 pounds

2 tablespoons ghee, palm oil,
coconut oil or lard, melted

2 teaspoons coconut aminos (or 1 teaspoon fish sauce + 1 teaspoon
coconut sugar)

2 teaspoons coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 fresh basil
leaves

Procedures:

1.      
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.      
Cut off both ends of the squash by root and
stem, and peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler.

3.      
Cut the squash in half crosswise. Then, cut both
halves lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

4.      
Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes.

5.      
In a mixing bowl, combine the melted fat with
the coconut aminos, coconut sugar and the rest of the spices except for the
basil.

6.      
Add the squash to the mixing bowl and toss well
to coat.

7.      
Roast for 25 minutes, turning the pieces after
15 minutes.

8.      
Thinly slice the basil by stacking the two
leaves, rolling tightly like a cigar, and slicing across to create ribbons.
Carefully mix the basil ribbons into the hot squash.

Butternut Squash Breakfast Bowl

Serving size: 2

Ingredients:

1 small or medium butternut squash, under 2 pounds,
roasted whole

1/2 fresh organic banana

2 teaspoons almond butter (preferably sprouted or
blanched, but any type of nut butter works)

2 teaspoons raw honey

Pumpkin spice or cinnamon powder to taste

2 tablespoons crushed or sliced nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds)

Raw, grass fed butter (to warm squash when assembling
into bowls)

Toasted coconut flakes (optional)

Procedure:

Roasting a Whole
Butternut Squash:

1.      
Roast the butternut squash at night so it’s
ready in the morning. Simply place the whole squash in the oven and set the
heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. You can place the squash in the oven while it
preheats.

2.      
Check the squash after one hour. Stick a fork into
the top, bottom and center to see if it goes in easily — this is a sign that
the squash is done. If needed, you may roast it for another 30 minutes or until
it’s tender on all sides. You want it to have the softness of a banana, not
mush.

3.      
Allow the squash to cool on the counter for 15
to 30 minutes.

4.      
Being careful not to burn yourself, cut the
squash lengthwise down the center to open it like a book (don’t worry about the
stem).

5.      
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy
center.

6.      
As if you’re cutting an avocado, take the tip of
your knife and cut squares into the flesh, but not through the skin. Simply
scoop out the cubes of squash with a spoon.

7.      
Portion this in containers for breakfast bowls.
You get two main-meal servings or four side-dish servings per squash.
Refrigerate for the morning after.

Assembling Your
Breakfast Bowls:

1.      
Lightly warm your cubed squash in butter-greased
pan. You want it warm, not hot.

2.      
Warm the almond butter so that it’s easy to
drizzle. You can do this by running the almond butter jar under warm water.

3.      
Thinly slice half of the banana, and then scatter
the slices on your bowl.

4.      
Drizzle on the almond butter and raw honey.

5.      
Lightly sprinkle with pumpkin spice or cinnamon.

6.      
Top your bowl with nuts and/or toasted coconut
flakes.

Butternut Squash Boasts an
Impressive Nutritional Profile

Winter squashes, like the butternut, are among the
vegetables that I recommend you to include in your wholesome diet, as they’re
loaded with a wide array of nutrients that can help you take control of your
health.

The most notable benefit of butternut squash is its abundant
carotenoid content, which is an antioxidant that turns into an active form of
vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is essential for your eye health, immune
system and cell growth, among others. Plus, it plays a role in the function of
vitamin D, vitamin K2, zinc
and magnesium.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) National Nutrient Database, a cup of cooked butternut squash provides
1,144 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A, exceeding the recommended daily allowances
(RDA) of this vitamin for men and women, which are 900 mcg and 700 mcg,
respectively.[xv]

A cup of butternut squash also provides 17 percent of your
RDA for potassium,[xvi]
which may help lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases by counteracting the
negative effects of sodium on your blood pressure.

Some of the other valuable vitamins and minerals that
butternut squash can provide include:[xvii]

Manganese

Magnesium

Calcium

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Iron

Vitamin B6

Thiamin

Niacin

Pantothenic acid

Folate

 

 

Butternut squash is also an excellent source of dietary
fiber
, which may help promote a healthy digestive system and immune
function, as well as prevent inflammation and gastrointestinal issues like
constipation.

Eat Butternut Squash
in Moderation

Before you chow down bowls of butternut squash to reap its
outstanding health benefits, keep in mind that it’s not OK to eat this food
excessively, since it contains high amounts of carbohydrates. In fact, around
90 percent of its calories come from carbs, half of which are starch-like.

While the starch from butternut squash may have a few unique
health benefits, it’s still best to limit your net carb intake to 40 to 50
grams per day. With that said, make sure that you eat butternut squash in
moderation, as its high carb content may cause you to unintentionally exceed
your daily limit for carbohydrates, which may increase your risk for high blood
sugar levels and chronic diseases.

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