Soon, spring will have officially “sprung” and we will get to enjoy the change in our diet. Just as the temperatures change, so do our ingredients. I am starting to plan the meals we will enjoy this spring and summer, organizing the garden to start growing more of the ingredients ourselves (more to come!), and am absolutely looking forward to salads garnished with fresh cilantro from the garden and fruit compotes of banana, strawberries, and blueberries.
In an effort to fully harness the waning winter months, Cliff and I decided to get a few more entrées starring butternut squash as the headliner. We love the full flavor of this gourd, and it makes us feel much healthier when we incorporate it into our diet. Last week, we tried Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash by Well Plated and loved the dish. As suggested in the blog post, we used brown rice as a healthier substitute and really felt like it was a great choice. Not to mention, any opportunity to use my slow cooker is an automatic win, in my opinion.
Below, you will find some additional “fun facts” about butternut squash, and reasons you might want to add it to your menu before this star of the fall months is replaced by the showstoppers of summer.
- According to wholeliving.com, butternut squash is actually a fruit, since you will find seeds inside the gourd.
- This winter squash is simply PACKED with nutrients, yet is still low in fat. The USDA’s calculations indicate that 1 cup of cubed, butternut squash only contains 82 calories. I feel even better about the cup of squash I had for lunch the other day…yay for leftovers!
- Some of the most prevalent nutrients include calcium, potassium, and vitamin A. In fact, a butternut squash offers more potassium in one serving than a banana. Seriously?
So, how does this apply to you? Medical News Today (using statistics from the USDA and World Health Organization) provides a fantastic overview of the health benefits that impact all of us.
- Deep breaths. The WHO cites a higher potassium intake is critical to reducing high blood pressure. Most of us already understand the implications of high blood pressure, but even if you don’t, just know that it is best to keep it down starting from a young age.
- Show off that orange glow! Beta-carotene is also present in this super-squash, and has been known to reduce asthma risks. This carotenoid, among others, may also help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Keep up with that fiber! We all need to make sure we get enough fiber in our diets, and the good news is that butternut squash provides just over 6.5 grams of fiber in one serving. This is particularly helpful for those who suffer from type 1 diabetes and depend upon a high-fiber diet.
- Show me those gorgeous tresses! Vitamin A helps keep hair and skin en pointe...combined with Vitamin C (which helps produce collagen), you might actually FEEL more beautiful when you wake up tomorrow morning.
- Give that immune system of yours some L-O-V-E! Of course, all of these benefits (and these are just a sample of them) help promote a healthier immune system. With the flu epidemic this winter, I’ll take any boost to the immune system I can get!
What are some of your favorite butternut squash recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas – I may just need to incorporate this winter gourd into our diet year-round!
Until next time, I hope you enjoy your #hearthhealthhappiness!