B is for butternut squash

squashButternut squash is a member of the cucurbitaceae family which includes squash, melons and cucumber. All have a thick rind surrounding a fleshy interior with a pulpy seed-containing core. Varying amount of water, fibre, sugar and starch in the different types of cucurbitaceae give them their widely varying characteristics.

Guest blog by Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

As far as I’m concerned, butternut squash is the only edible type of squash, although the fact that squash come in such a wide variety of shapes, colours, sizes and patterns makes a collection of them a signature sign of Halloween, Bonfire Night – and winter to come.

Butternut squash contains more vitamin A than any other commonly consumed fruit or vegetable. A 100g portion will give you over 300% of the recommended daily amount. It’s also rich in beta-carotene and lutein which, like vitamin A, are powerful antioxidants, which can help protect against a range of cancers and are also important for eye health.

Finally, butternut squash is rich in soluble fibre, which help improve insulin sensitivity and keep blood glucose low.
It’s hard work processing a whole butternut squash, so I do tend to go for packaged slices or cubes – not the ‘greenest’ choice, I know, but when time is short it does help to have some of the prep done for you.

 

Butternut squash soup

This is a warming soup, packed with healthy spice, which would go down well at a Bonfire Night supper.

Serves 2
Around 400g butternut squash, diced
2 red onions, diced
1 red chilli, diced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Marmite
1 tbsp tomato puree

 

Fry the vegetables with the spices in coconut oil for 5-10 minutes. Then add the water and bring to the boil. Add Marmite and tomato puree to flavour. Cook for 20-30 minutes, till the squash is soft. Blend and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Butternut squash superfood salad

I’ve noticed a lot of superfood salads offered in pubs and restaurants have butternut squash as an ingredient so I thought it was time to give it a go. The seeds add crunch, the cranberries/blueberries a touch of sweetness and then there are the usual ‘green’ suspects to pack this salad full of nutritional goodness.

Serves 3-4
Half packet of butternut squash slices, roasted and cooled (you can use the other half, hot, in the roast recipe below).
Packet of tenderstem or belleverde broccoli, cooked, cooled and chopped
Bunch or pack of watercress
2 tbsp mixed seeds (I used pine kernels, sunflower and pumpkin seed mix)
2 tbsp dried cranberries and blueberries
For the dressing
Crushed clove of garlic
1 tsp mustard powder
1tbsp cider vinegar
Juice of whole lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin cold-pressed flax seed oil (I always use oil from The Linseed Farm but any other healthy oil would be fine).

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. For the dressing, crush the garlic with the mustard powder in a mortar and pestle to form a puree. Then add the vinegar, lemon and oil and whisk. Toss into the salad.

Rainbow Roast dinner

This is an attempt to put some extra colour into a vegetarian roast dinner, and to give red cabbage and Brussels an outing other than during the festive season.
Serves 1-2
Half packet butternut squash slices
Braised red cabbage
Brussel sprouts
Home-made tomato sauce

Start by preparing the cabbage (this is the recipe I use every year on Christmas Day, adapted from Delia Smith). Shred a red cabbage, chop two apples and two red onions. Layer these and sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Add about 3 tbsp dry cider. Bake for 2-3 hours at in a medium oven. Roast the squash till soft. Serve with sprouts and the tomato sauce as a gravy. If you like, sprinkle the squash with grated blue cheese five minutes before the end of roasting.

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