As the snow begins to fall and the fears of holiday stress is upon us, one thing is for certain: that November is the peak season for winter squash. Both sweet enough to eat, and packed with immune boosting nutrients, just as the name implies, it’s the best time to enjoy this seasonal item—and for good reasons, too.
You may have seen these oddly-shaped squash while walking through the supermarket. Winter squash comes in many varieties including, but not limited to, acorn squash, pumpkin, butternut squash, delicata and spaghetti squash. All very easy to prepare, nutritious and readily available right now, they serve more benefits than making for a lovely decorative table arrangement in the Fall.
Foods that are naturally bright in colours such as winter squash have been shown to be higher in antioxidants. Antioxidants have been shown to boost our immune system, which is essential to shielding our bodies during the cold and flu season. Nature has this incredible ability to give us what we lack during certain times of the year and winter squash meets those needs by providing us with those beneficial nutrients commonly missing in our diets during the chillier and shorter season.
The colours give winter squash its high concentration of powerful phytochemicals beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, known for their high antioxidant potency, and vitamin C which has been shown to help strengthen the immune system. And, while the nutritional concentration in each squash varies, this alkalizing fruit (yes, squash is a fruit), is also high in potassium, folate, magnesium, thiamine and dietary fibre making squash dishes a great choice for winter immunity and overall health. The seeds found in the winter squash are high in zinc and iron, and also contain omega-3 fatty acids, necessary for moisturizing and fighting dry skin. The seeds can be incorporated into daily recipes or roasted for a healthy, protein and fibre-filled snack.
Easy Roasted Spaghetti Squash Recipe
Need some suggestions? The popular spaghetti squash can be served as a main course or as a simple but attractive side dish great for any diet.
1 cup of spaghetti squash is equal to about 40 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates, making it a wonderful low-carb, low-calorie and high-fibre alternative to traditional pasta and it’s a great way to fill up your plate with rich nutrients. Try tossing up this immune-boosting recipe into your meal tonight:
1 large spaghetti squash
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons minced parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Brush the flesh with half the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast for 50 minutes, or until you can easily slide a knife through the squash. Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool enough until you can handle it.
Scrape the flesh with a fork to make long strands; set aside. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, salt and pepper, and cook about 3 minutes. Add squash and parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.