The health benefits of butternut squash and a cozy dip recipe

Squash is low in fat and high in vitamins. Find out the many ways you can add this versatile vegetable to your recipes.

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Butternut squash

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Here are just a few reasons why I love this delicious harvest vegetable.

1. One cup of baked squash has 145 percent of your daily-recommended vitamin A, and it’s one of the top sources for alpha and beta carotene (especially great for eye health).

2. Squash is low in fat and contains a healthy amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.

3. The vegetable’s energy-sustaining complex carbohydrates and B-vitamins help to balance blood sugar and its vitamin C content helps fight cold and flu.

How to cook with squash
The simplest way to use a squash is to cut it in half (width-wise or length-wise), scoop out the seeds and roast it, at 350F, face down for about an hour (Click here for more detailed instructions on how to roast squash). From there you have soft squash that you can scoop away from the skin to make soup, dips, desserts, a mashed side dish or you can eat straight out of it like a bowl (see below).

Another great option is to cut the whole squash into sizable chunks and peel the skin off. From there, cut your squash into cubes and roast them in the oven just like fries. If you don’t mind the skin, it’s completely edible and full of fibre, so feel free to indulge.

Still looking for new ways to fit this autumn vegetable into your weekly menu? Read on for more suggestions:

1. Add baked or roasted squash cubes into a recipe. I’ve done this many times when I make something like a grain bowl where squash is just an accent or addition to the recipe for texture, colour and flavour. This is easy and can be done to other recipes such as soups, noodles, grain salads, and desserts!

2. Put your meal inside half a squash. Since most members of the squash family (acorn, butternut, buttercup) are rather large, they can act as an amazing vessel for your meal. It looks very elegant and gourmet as part of a Thanksgiving appetizer and is one of few meals we can think of where eating your bowl will add fibre and nutrients to your meal.

3. Blend squash into a recipe. Whether it’s a dip, soup or sauce, butternut squash is creamy and consistent. Once blended, it adds such a delicate sweetness throughout your entire recipe.

This recipe is a wonderful use of butternut squash

Roasted butternut squash and white bean dip

Ingredients
1 cup roasted (with olive oil and sea salt) squash, cubed (you can use any squash you prefer)
2 cups cooked white beans
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup bean cooking liquid or water

Directions
1. Combine cooked white beans and squash into food processor and puree for 1 minute to combine.
2. Add in remaining ingredient and continue to pulse until a creamy, thick texture is derived.
3. Add sea salt and other herbs to taste.
4. Serve in a wrap with fresh veggies
5. Eat with raw veggies, flatbread, corn chips, tortillas. Or you can top it on pasta, cooked grains or steamed vegetables.

What’s your favourite butternut squash recipe? See our favourite, macaroni and cheese with roasted butternut squash, here.

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.

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