Buying local seasonal fruits and vegetables makes a lot of sense. It’s better for the environment, the produce is picked at its peak– ideally brought to your store quickly because it’s local–and it won’t contain any, or as many, harmful pesticides or waxes. It’s also better nutritionally. Does that mean you can’t ever eat a tomato in December? No. But it does mean you should take a look around in each season you’re in. Right now, it’s fall, and I cannot get enough of the beautiful orange, yellow and green squashes I see everywhere. When I think of the carbs most people add to their plates, it’s usually pasta, rice, quinoa or potatoes. Typical Americans load their plates with these carbs and often add in protein and veggies as an afterthought. I think squash is an intimidating food choice because they look like they take a long time to cook. To that I’d say, yes and no. Rice takes some time too, and yet it has very little nutritional substance. So if you take a squash, the bake time might be longer, but the nutrition advantage can’t be beat. Moreover, the hands on time is minimal. If you can cut one in half and remove the seeds, you’ve done most of the work. The rest happens in the oven, at which time you could prep the other half of the meal, play a board game with your kids or flip through an entire magazine. So don’t let these little beauties intimidate you! An acorn squash, for example, can be done in under 40 minutes, including the 3 minutes of hands-on time, and it contains antioxidants, fiber and Omega 3s and Beta-Carotene for a little dose of anti-inflammatory goodness. One cup is only around 76 calories! And don’t throw away those seeds; you can roast them just as you would pumpkin seeds. Roasting at a lower temperature preserves the Omega 6’s. An easy recipe is to clean off 1 cup of squash seeds. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil and sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Bake at 275 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.
Step outside of your comfort zone! Acorn squash is less sweet than Butternut, Kabocha or Delicata.
Looks: Acorn squash is small in size, typically weighing between one and two pounds, with orange-yellow flesh and thick, dark green and/or orange skin.
Buying and storing: Find a firm exterior, free from soft spots and blemishes, and that feel heavy for their size. Store them in a cool, dry place; they keep for about one month.
Flavor: Acorn squash has a mild, subtly sweet and nutty flavor. The skin is edible.
How to use it: Acorn squash is super versatile. You can bake, roast, steam or saute.
- Prep Time : 10 minutes
- Cook Time : 55 minutes
- Yield : 4
- 2 medium acorn squash
- Coconut oil cooking spray
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon ghee or oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 7-8 oz organic maple or apple sausage patties - I used Applegate (or use any ground sausage or beef/bison)
- 1 small green apple, chopped
- 1/4 cup Brussles sprouts leaves - (or kale)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/4 cup apple juice sweetened dried cranberries - (these are lower in sugar than regular ones)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Lop off the ends of the squash so they all sit upright without falling over.
- Place cut side up into a glass dish and coat tops well with cooking spray (or use a little ghee or coconut oil). Sprinkle with salt. Place in oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and soft to the touch.
- In a large skillet, heat the ghee, garlic and onions. Stir for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Crumble up the sausage and add to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Add the apples and Brussels leaves or kale and saute until the apples are soft (about 3-4 minutes). Add in the cinnamon, maple syrup and cranberries.
- When squash is done, fill with the mixture, and return to the oven for 10 minutes.