It’s Fall! Officially. Fall means women are itching to pull their fall wardrobe out of the closet and people are sipping on pumpkin spice lattes. The mornings are starting off a little cooler and the chill of the evening is setting in earlier. There are pumpkins in the grocery stores proclaiming the end of summer and the ushering in of a new season. Whether we like it or not, fall is here. And, so is the goodness of fall produce.
This week as you roam through the produce department of your local grocery store or market wondering what you should make for dinner—check out the squash. Summer and winter squash are in peak season! Now is the time to indulge in these healthy fall favorites.
There are several varieties of squash—butternut, acorn, banana, etc. They are divided into the categories of summer squash and winter squash. Don’t let the seasons confuse you. Summer squash season lasts into the winter and winter squash is available beginning in late summer.
The health benefits of squash are many. When you include squash as a part of your diet, your body will thank you for the boost in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits, potential help with blood sugar regulation, and the promotion of cardiovascular health. The butternut squash in particular is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. These nutrients aid in healthy skin and eye health, wound healing and iron absorption, healthy blood pressure, and improved cholesterol levels.
Butternut squash is beige colored and is shaped like a bell. This unique shape requires a special approach to cutting. www.Whfoods.com suggests it is best to first cut it in half between the neck and bulb. This makes peeling it much easier. Then, cut the bulb in half and scoop out seeds. Slice into 1-inch slices and make 1-inch cuts across slices for 1-inch cubes. This is the best size and shape for steaming.
Squash is a versatile veggie. It can be roasted, steamed, pureed, used in soups, mixed into salads, and sweetened for pies. Even the seeds can be taken out, roasted and enjoyed for additional health benefits.
Red Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pecans
Recipe from glutenfreegoddess.com. Link to recipe: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2010/01/red-quinoa-with-butternet-squash.html
I find red quinoa is a tad crunchier than the usual quinoa I cook, so I add a bit more water to make it softer. If you like your quinoa al dente, use a grain to liquid ratio of 1:2 with red quinoa. If you prefer it a little softer, add another 1/4 cup water. See more at: How to Cook Quinoa the Easy Way.
Red Quinoa -- Preparation
Cook 1 cup red quinoa in a rice cooker, using a 1:2 ratio of 1 cup red quinoa to 2 cups water. If you don't have a rice cooker, cook the quinoa on the stove in a pot, according to package directions.
Roasted Butternut Squash
In a medium roasting pan add these ingredients:
- 1 smallish butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, halved or chopped as you prefer
- 1/2 of a medium red onion, diced fine
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Drizzle the butternut squash, cranberries, onion and garlic with a little olive oil, to coat. Add a teaspoon or two of pure maple syrup--not too much. Sprinkle with sea salt. Toss everything together. Roast in the top half of the oven until the squash is tender- about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan and set aside.
In a large dry skillet, add:
1/2 cup chopped pecans. Heat the skillet and lightly toast the pecans briefly, till fragrant. Add in the cooked quinoa and the butternut mixture.
Finishing Touches, add:
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- A sprinkle of cumin, ginger or curry, to taste
- Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Drizzle the quinoa mixture with some fruity extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Heat through gently. Makes 4 servings.