Butternut Squash is a relative newcomer to our greengrocers and supermarkets. First farmed in the USA in the 1950’s, Charles Leggett developed butternut as a result of combining the Hubbard squash and the gooseneck squash. Leggett came up with the name, saying it was “smooth as butter and sweet as nut”.
The exceptionally high nutrient profile of Butternut Squash means that this vegetable can play an important role in a healthy diet, including an anti-Candida diet and low oxalate diet. One serving of just over 200grams provides fantastically high levels of plant-based vitamin A. This is a very safe way of taking vitamin A, since the body only converts what is needed from the beta carotene source. Along with this, butternut squash provides vitamin C, manganese, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamins B6, B3 and B1 and folic acid.
Antioxidants are so important to keep at high intake in the diet. As a result of the wear and tear of life, poor diet choices, excess sun, and pollution, our bodies produce free radicals, which might cause oxidative stress, which is linked with a number of diseases. Antioxidants (e.g. vitamins A, C &E) mop up these free radicals, reducing their negative impact on health. Keeping up antioxidants with plenty of vegetables in the diet, while minimising exposure to processed foods, cosmetic and household chemicals, is a good start in supporting health. Butternut Squash is a vegetable particularly high in antioxidants.
Vitamin A is helpful in supporting immune health and reducing inflammation. It can help to fight infections such as the common cold as well as diseases such as cancer.
Butternut squash contains 582mg of potassium per 200g serving. Potassium is helpful in supporting the correct level of sodium in cells (impacting onto blood pressure). Potassium is also important in maintaining strong and healthy bones. High levels of potassium in the body are associated with denser bone structure, even in post-menopausal women.
Butternut squash is relatively low in calories and high in fibre, making it a great ‘filler’ if you are looking to loose weight. In addition, research has found that it can impact on to cellular processes, including the formation and storage of fat.
With this impressive nutrient profile, including Butternut Squash in the diet regularly should be a priority. It is actually very versatile and can be used on its own – roasted, mashed, chipped, or blended into soup. It can also be incorporated into many recipes, including gluten-free buns and breads, mixed into chia pudding or blended with coconut milk and egg to make desserts. One way of making salads acceptable during the autumn and winter months is to toss into green salad leaves some cubes of squash, lightly roasted in extra virgin olive oil. If you feel daunted at the prospect of peeling and preparing the squash, many supermarkets sell it ready chopped, both in the refrigerated vegetable aisle and in the frozen veg aisle. That said, a sharp vegetable peeler can make easy work of preparation. Hold the squash on its side and pull the peeler from top to bottom. Alternatively cut the quash into circles, and then peel with a paring knife. Use a spoon to pull out the pips.
Perhaps the simplest way to use squash is to make a creamy and filling soup. There are so many variations on a butternut squash soup, but time and again, I simply make it with just 2 ingredients – Butternut and water!
This soup is so full of flavour that seasoning is optional. You can add a little Lo-Salt if necessary, a little black pepper or some ground ginger to taste. Serve with some creamed coconut stirred through, a tablespoon of ground sunflower seeds, or top with lightly toasted pumpkin seeds.
You can easily add other vegetables when cooking. I often add a few florets of cauliflower. But the basic recipe remains simple and quick – boil, blend and serve! Enjoy.