Winter Squash – cancer protective!

by Robin Nielsen

What a funny name – squash!

I have several butternut squash leftover from Christmastime that were a gift from a family member’s garden.  They can last a long time because of their hard outer shell.  I thought it would be fun to share some information on this great food source while they are still in season and abundant.

Winter squash come in many varieties:

  • Acorn squash: a harvest green color speckled with orange patches with a pale yellow-orange flesh. It has a sweet, nutty, peppery flavor and is fun to “stuff”.
  • Butternut squash: cream colored skin shaped like a large pear, has deep orange-colored flesh, and a sweet flavor.
  • Hubbard squash: less sweet than other winter squashes, large in size with a green, grey-blue or orange-red outer color.
  • Pumpkins: the small sugar pumpkins are for cooking – they weigh only a few pounds
  • Spaghetti squash: yellow colored, larger-sized with light colored flesh that pulls away in strands resembling spaghetti when cooked.
  • Turban squash: orange-yellow flesh, green in color and either speckled or striped, the taste is reminiscent of hazelnuts.

Flavor and Texture
These squash are members of the Curcurbitaceae family and can be stored from one to six months. They are mildly sweet in flavor and finely grained in texture.

Nutritional Info
Because they are richly colored they are excellent sources of carotenes – the richer the color the richer the concentration. Carotenes can exert a protective effect against cancer, especially lung cancer. Winter squashes are also a great source of some of the B vitamins (good for energy, hormone balance and with B6 great for lowering homocysteine – a heart health marker), vitamin C (immune and skin health, energy and a happy mood), potassium (great electrolyte!) and fiber (digestive health, hormone balance and immune health.)

Now, don’t you want to go out and buy some of these delicious winter squashes?

Here is a quick and easy recipe for butternut squash…

Robin’s Butternut Squash Soup

3 small butternut squash
1/2 box Imagine chicken broth (low sodium)
1/2 box Imagine vegetable broth (low sodium)
2 cups water
1 can coconut milk
sea salt to taste
1 tsp nutmeg (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half, clean out seeds and poke a couple of holes with a knife into the hard skin for venting while cooking. Put a little water in a baking dish and place the squash face down. Bake until done, about 30 minutes. (Use other herbs and spices if you like such as curry, black pepper, garlic, apple, etc.)

Scoop squash out and put in blender. (may need to do in a couple of stages). Pureé with a little of the liquid. Put all of the ingredients in a pot and cook until hot – let simmer on low a few minutes to blend the flavors. Enjoy with some protein!