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Monday, October 26, 2015

Butternut Squash Can Protect Your Vision, Fight Cancer, and Subdue Inflammation

Fall season isn’t just about pumpkins, apples and apple cider. It is also about another orange superfood, butternut squash.

This fall vegetable is full of flavor and nutritional benefits. If you haven’t tried butternut squash yet, I highly suggest you do.

Butternut squash is in gourd family and grows on a vine. It provides ample amounts of dietary fiber and is low in fat. Butternut squash has that orange color we have come to associate with a certain health nutrient: carotenoids. Beta carotene protect against heart disease, some cancers and macular degeneration. In addition to Beta carotene, magnesium, and omega 3’s, folic acid and potassium make butternut squash a super food.


How are these nutrients beneficial?

Fiber: controls blood sugar, promotes heart health, decreases risk of stroke, enhances weight loss and management, helps remove yeast and fungus from the body, reduces the risk of diverticulitis, lowers the risk of hemorrhoids, provides some relief from IBS, and reduces the risk of gallbladder and kidney stones.

Magnesium: regulates melatonin hormone for better sleep, relaxes the nervous system, helps cells store more energy, helps the body produce more Insulin like Growth Factor (IGF-1 helps with growth and strength in muscles), better flexibility, supports bone integrity and strength, remineralizes teeth, alkalizes the body, hydrates, relieves constipation, assists enzyme function, diabetes.

Folic Acid: fetal brain and spinal cord development, production of red blood cells, heart health and function, helps depression, reduces risk of dementia, helps keep the brain young and functioning properly.

Potassium: heart health, regulates hydration, pain management, strengthens body systems, helps alleviate psychological problems.

Omega-3: lowers risk of heart attack, lowers risk of depression, helps baby development: visually and neurologically, improves lung function while lowering inflammation (a key component in asthma), reduces ADHD symptoms, helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Vitamin A: supports good vision, healthy immune system, supports cell growth, helps with dry eyes, used for specific types of leukemia, maintains healthy bones and teeth, prevents urinary stones, great for healthy skin, essential for the reproductive process in males and females.

How to choose a ripe butternut squash:

still has stem
heavy for its size
smooth skin
un-dented
How do I store butternut squash?

Store in a cool, dry place until you are ready to cook with it. Whole butternut squash will last longer uncut, so wait to cut it until you are going to use it.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium organic Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups  vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the center of the oven.

2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until fork tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium sized cubes. Cut the onion into medium sized cubes. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

4. When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.

5. Stir together the broth, water, measured salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.

6. Purée the soup in batches until smooth with a blender (or emulsion blender), removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Optional: Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds.

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