Friday, February 19, 2010

Squash This!

Until recently I did not purchase, or probably even knowingly eat, squash. I mean, they are these big, scary looking vegetables and I was generally clueless as to what to do with them. But, in my quest to eat more vegetables and be the healthiest version of me possible, I have had to overcome many fears, including my fear of squash. It turns out they really aren’t so scary after all. And, like most vegetables, they are packed with nutrients.

The winter squash group includes pumpkin, acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash. Like other richly colored vegetables, they provide excellent sources of carotenes. They also offer a very good source of vitamins B1 and C, folic acid, fiber and potassium. Winter squash are also a good source of vitamin B6 and niacin.

Winter squash are all in season now and at my local grocery store they are practically giving them away. Yesterday I saw they were selling acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash for a dollar a piece. Ten for $10 to be precise and you can even mix-and-match your squash. That’s a lot of squash for not a lot of dollar.

If you are feeling adventurous this weekend, I offer you two SUPER simple, SUPER tasty recipes to try. I like to serve the spaghetti squash as a main dish with a slice of whole wheat bread and a green salad to round out the meal. You could also incorporate it into your meal as more of a side dish.

You should know that Eric really enjoys the spaghetti squash and recently confessed, albeit begrudgingly, that he sleeps much better after the “veggie spaghetti” then he does after a bowl of regular pasta. That’s what happens when your system isn’t bogged down with the arduous task of digestion … it can actually rest. Things that make you go hmm.

The acorn squash recipe makes a tasty side dish although, on nights when Eric is not home for dinner and I’m feeling lazy, I sometimes bake one to share with the babies, add a small salad for me, and call it dinner. Also, this acorn squash dish also happens to be the first recipe Glennon SUCCESSFULLY attempted to cook and serve to her family, thereby making it foolproof.

Acorn squash

Acorn Squash

Preheat oven to 400

Cut squash in half and spoon out seeds.

Fill oven-safe dish with ¼ inch of water and place squash flesh-side down in pan (the hard skin will be facing up).

Bake for 40 minutes or until tender (fork or knife should slide in/out easily)

Remove from oven and spread with 1 tsp butter (I use Earth Balance, a non-dairy butter substitute) and 1 tsp orange marmalade.

Return to oven and broil for 5 minutes or until slightly browned and bubbly. (Make sure you keep an eye on it b/c things can burn fast under the broiler).


Note: for a variation try drizzling the squash with olive oil and sprinkling with nutmeg, or your favorite spices, wrapping in foil and baking until tender.


Spaghetti Squash
From the healthy kitchen of Erica Arnold

Spaghetti squash

Preheat oven to 400

Cut spaghetti squash in half and spoon out seeds.

Fill glass cooking pan 1/4 inch with water.

Sprinkle kosher/sea salt over squash for flavor.

Place pasta sauce (jar or homemade – if using jar look for all-natural ingredients and/or organic sauce) in the hollow of the spaghetti squash.

Place spaghetti squash in pan and bake for 30-45 min, or until squash is tender.

Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle; then take a fork and scrape squash away from skin (squash will come out in strands that look like spaghetti). Garnish with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

I mean, seriously, doesn't that look good? It is strangely satisfying, I think, because you can have a heaping bowl full of "pasta" without the guilt or tummy ache. Try it and let me know what you think!


  1. Erin, can I just add one comment about squash? (I imagine you nod your head yes). Here it is:

    SHARPEN YOUR KNIFE FIRST AND AFTER. Without a good, sharp knife, slicing squash open can be very dangerous.

    It's slightly less delicious if it involves a trip to the Emergency Room.

    Smiles, K

  2. I would also like you to know that I made the spaghetti squash too and so did Tisha and we LOVED it!

    Also, i have a butternut squash sitting on my counter. Is there something easy I can do with it? Easy, Erin. E-Z.

  3. SLM -- I agree. I had an unfortunate incident with a butternut squash several years ago. Not fun.

    I'm sharing a butternut squash soup recipe that is easy (once you get done peeling and chopping the squash), tasty and pretty healthy.

    1 T olive oil
    2 -3 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and chopped into one-inch pieces.
    3 large carrots, chopped
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 t minced fresh ginger
    2 quarts veggie stock or cold water
    1/8 cup grated orange zest
    1 bunch parsley, chopped
    pinch of nutmeg
    salt and pepper to taste

    Heat olive oil over medium heat in large sauce pot. Saute the squash, carrots, onion and ginger for three minutes, until they are lightly browned. Add the stock or water and orange zest, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the parsley, nutmeg, sat and pepper. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.

    Serves 8 to 10.

  4. Erin - I can't wait to try both of these. Squash is something that has recently entered my life and we seem to be getting closer and closer all of the time. On a separate note, the exercise challenge that you gave us all encouraged me to get over a fear of mine and try a new class at the gym. I have watched this class while on the elliptical machine through the window for the past two months trying to determine if I was able for it. It's a weight and abs class. After I read your post about how good weights are for you I had a little talk with myself and told myself I should go to the class and get a place by the door and if it got too hard, leave. I would never know if I didn't try it. So I went and I survived. I even liked it. Typing is agonizing because my arms are so sore, but they'll gt stronger. Thanks for giving me the boost to do something I had been wanting too but didn't have the courage.
    Enjoy the weekend!

  5. Erin -

    These look delicious! Thanks for giving me the tools to try new things for my family. You are inspiring me!! Thanks for doing this for us :)

  6. Wow! Love the spaghetti squash idea! My boys will love it am sure.


  7. I have been a longtime fan of spaghetti squash, but our relationship has grown distant over the last year or so ;-) We'll have to reaquainted b/c it really is SO GOOD.

    I made the brown rice with butternut squash recipe on Wed night. I thought it was great! Rob did not say either way what he thought, but he ate it, and I noticed when I got home last night that the leftovers were gone.....I also packed some leftovers for Lexi's lunch, so I'm thinking we're 3 for 3 at the Stone household on this new recipe ;-)

    thanks Erin and everyone for the new ideas! Squash is on the grocery list for this weekend!

  8. happy weekend FAL'ers!!

    As Erin knows, baking is NOT my strong suit. So when I see a mix that looks good, I go for it.

    I just took out of the oven some muffins made from a Trader Joe's mix. Someone must have told TJ's about Erin's blog, b/c the mix is a Triple Berry Bran Muffin Mix, made with a "blend of whole grain whole wheat flour, wheat and oat bran, rolled oats and ground flaxseed." 7 grams of fiber per muffin!

    granted, I'm sure there is sugar in the mix, but this seems like a step above Betty Crocker. I will let you guys know how they taste.


  9. Hoot Hoot Kel! I love that I am lurking behind your grocery store purchases. Please, let us know how the muffins are, and, if you like, send me the empty box and I can take a look at the quality of ingredients ... you know I don't have a TJ's here in the mountains. boo.


  10. yes, I had you in my head at TJ's the other day. The box caught my eye, and when I read all of the other stuff, I thought, I will try these in the spirit of FAL!!!

    the muffins are a hit - Lexi has had 2 today and Rob even said they are good. I think I threw the box out, but I might buy another box this week anyway and will send you the list of ingredients!