Winter Squash for Change-of-Season Health
With the changing of the seasons come many wonderful Fall ingredients to cook with and delicious, cozy meals to prepare. One of those great Fall foods are the many types of winter squash in season now and just perfect for stuffing with a variety of delicious options.
This recipe was one I made up with the ingredients that I had on hand, but there are so many options. Beginning with the squash, delicata or acorn are good choices, but there are many other varieties to try. Instead of quinoa, you can use brown basmati rice or even lentils; instead of raisins, use dried cranberries or fresh apples. I used shiitake mushrooms in mine, but any type of mushroom would be delicious. Don’t have walnuts? Pecans are wonderful in a stuffed squash. Never let a missing ingredient derail your dinner! Creativity is the cornerstone of good cooking!
Winter squash is a nutritious addition to your cooking repetoire. Though amounts vary in the different types of squash, these healthy beauties contain the carotenoids beta carotene (a precursor to Vit A), lutein, and zeaxanthin, Vitamins C and B6, antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and potassium.
Winter squash has a low glycemic load with about half the amount of carbohydrate than a sweet potato. These squash also contain polysaccharides, a type of indigestible fiber that can help prevent blood sugar from rising after eating.
Some of the compounds in winter squash like beta-carotene and lutein are classified as flavonoids - antioxidants that may help protect human cells from oxidative damage. Flavonoids have been researched extensively for their role in inhibiting cancer cell growth.
As the seasons slide into the cold and flu (not to mention Covid) season, winter squash is a delicious way to pump up the amount of Vitamins C and A that you are consuming in your diet. It is more important than ever to get an optimal amount of these two immune powerhouses to help keep healthy during the cold months.
Most groceries sell winter squash, and I recommend going to your local farmer’s market to access a wider variety of squash and directly support your local farmers.
So embrace the colder moths and add winter squash to your Fall/Winter meals. Be creative. Enjoy making this delicious, comforting, healthy meal for yourself, family, and friends.
Stuffed Winter Squash
· ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
· 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
· 1 med shallot or red onion
· 1 cup mushrooms
· ½ cup chopped walnuts
· 1 clove garlic
· 3 Tbsp soaked raisins
· 1 cup shredded kale
· 1 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
· 2-3 oz goat cheese, broken into small pieces
· 2 Tbsp walnut oil
1. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, oil cut surface, and place cut side
down on sheet pan. Place in 375 degree oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, depending
on size of squash. Test by inserting knife into squash. The knife should insert easily if
2. Place quinoa is strainer and rinse well. Place 1.5 cups of water in saucepan, bring to
boil, and add quinoa. Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Turn off heat and let sit, covered for 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in large pan. When warm, add shallot or onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add
mushrooms, garlic, and sage leaves and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes.
4. Add kale, turn down heat, and cover for 2-3 minutes until kale is wilted.
5. Place quinoa in large bowl and add all cooked ingredients, as well as raisins, walnuts,
parsley, and goat cheese. Stir well.
6. Fill squash with the quinoa mixture, mounding it up on top of the squash. Sprinkle
with walnut oil and place back oven for 10 minutes to make sure it is well heated
7. Remove from oven and carefully (it’s hot!) place on plates to serve.