I’m enjoying a pop of color from the gourds I’m using as fall decorations. While gourds are great for decorating, eating them is also a tasty, simple way to increase the number of vegetables we eat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidance, when we fill half our plate at meals with fruits and veggies, we’re well on our way to eating healthfully and preventing or managing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Acorn squash is shaped like, what else, an acorn! It has dark green skin and ridges, and can be eaten in a variety of dishes or even by itself. Acorn, like the other winter squash types, is high in Vitamin A, minerals and fiber- all terrific food components that help keep our immune and digestive systems working well. Besides that, at this time of the year, when acorn squash are “in season,” they are cheapest!
Many times we don’t buy squash (or other new veggies) because we don’t know how to prepare them. Here are some ideas from fruitsandveggies.org to get you started enjoying acorn squash-
*Roast it-After washing the outside with water, pierce it with a fork in a number of places. Put in the microwave for approximately 1 minute and it’ll be easier to slice. Slice in half, and scoop out the seeds-which you can clean and roast later. Place halves with the cut-side facing up on a cookie sheet and drizzle each side with a little olive oil. Using your fingertips, spread the oil over all of the squash. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and roast in a 375℉ oven for 45-60 minutes. If you can easily poke a fork into the flesh, it’s finished.
*Cube it-After softening it in the microwave (as suggested above), cube it and add it to other veggies like carrots, potatoes and onions. Coat all of these lightly with olive oil, sprinkle on salt and put the baking pan in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the veggies are cooked.
*Puree it- Wash the outside with water, pierce it with a fork in a number of places and cook (whole) in the microwave for 5-6 minutes. Scoop out the cooked flesh and run it through a food processor. Pureed squash can be used to boost the veggie content of many dishes such as macaroni and cheese, cream soups, muffins and pancakes.
*Stuff it- After hollowing out the squash, stuff it with your favorite meatloaf mix and bake.
*Steam it- Thinly slice it. Add a little cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg and microwave for a minute or 2 and enjoy a low-calorie side dish or snack.
*For dessert-Heat half a peach, half an apple, honey, nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon margarine or butter in a frying pan on low heat until apples and peaches are tender. Microwave half of a hollowed out portion of squash until tender. Fill with the apple mixture and enjoy!
*In Pasta-Mix thinly sliced squash strips with spaghetti noodles and cook according to the spaghetti package instructions.