Login: Kristin Meier

I can still recall one autumn afternoon when my spouse returned from the grocery store with one of every kind of squash imaginable: spaghetti, acorn, butternut, and even a Turban squash. (Who knew?) I had no idea what to do with any of it, but after reading an article on the many flavorful and nutritious benefits, we decided it was time to learn. (Aren’t husbands helpful?)

Butternut squash is now one of our family favorites. It lives up to its name “butternut” with its velvety texture and nutty taste. An added bonus is

that it is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and all the carotenes, especially beta-carotene. It is also a good source of potassium, manganese, vitamin B6, and magnesium. 

If you are anything like me, one of the initial reasons to avoid cooking squash is that they can be so difficult to cut up. In my experience, carving a jack-o-lantern is a dangerous undertaking that justifies indoor use of a hand saw. In the past, when confronted with a recipe that calls for chopped squash, I would skip it immediately due to personal safety concerns. 

Most recipes instruct to prepare butternut squash by splitting it in half (lengthwise), scooping out the seeds, sprinkling a bit of cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or allspice for variety) and roasting it face-down on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 350° F for 40-60 minutes, depending on size.

  And butternut squash is fairly soft, so this is do-able. But I’ve discovered that there is an alternative, and this has me eyeing all sorts of gourds with a new sense of potential.

Try pre-cooking the squash before you cut it! Just turn on the oven to 350-400, stick it on a cookie sheet and let it bake for an hour. Or, let it bake for 30 minutes until it’s softER, then cut, de-seed and season. The only danger here is burning your fingers, so time is on your side. Set your oven to cook-time of one hour in the morning or afternoon, so that it will automatically shut off, and go about your day. When you are ready to prepare it, it’s cool, easy to manage and perfect for any meal. (Unless you forget about it and a week passes before you find it…

You can do almost* anything with squash! Add them to pasta sauces, soups, salsas, pies, vegetable stirfry…you won’t go wrong.

*FULL DISCLOSURE: I had such a great result from my pumpkin facial that I decided to slap some of the butternut squash guts on my face while prepping dinner. When the kids rounded the corner, my seven-year-old questioned, “Mom, why is your face orange?” I gave him a cursory answer about facials and natural enzymes and changed the subject. After dinner, cleanup, bath, books, prayers, and tucking the kids into bed I went to wash my face. I looked in the mirror and was shocked to find my face really was ORANGE! I used some aggressive face wash and microderm abrasion and got rid of the self-tan hue and all was good. 

Note to self: Stick to pumpkin facials.