Squash

Year-Round

Health Benefits

Squash is a well-balanced food that is low in saturated fats and rich in complex carbohydrates. The seeds of squash and pumpkins are very high in protein; one ounce has as much as seven grams. Squash contains high levels of potassium, helping prevent and control high blood pressure. Its high amounts of beta-carotene that have been linked with lowering cancer cell growth and the risks for developing asthma. It is also great for your skin because it is extremely high in vitamin A and C.

History

It is believed that squash originated from Mexico and Central America. European settlers took many varieties of squash seeds back to their countries when the American Indians shared their seeds with them. Today, squash is widely popular in many Eastern European countries and remains an important source of food throughout much of Central and South America.

Recipes to Try

How to Store

Winter squash will keep in a cool (not refrigerated), dry, well-ventilated place for up to a month or more. Refrigerating winter squash changes the texture and flavor. Summer squash should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Squash will keep fresh for 4 to 5 days if wrapped. All squash should be refrigerated after being cut. Once cooked, wrap winter and summer squash in plastic and keep cool in the coldest section of your refrigerator. Squash will stay fresh for 3 to 5 days. Cooked or raw squash will keep frozen wrapped tightly in a freezer bag or double wrapped in plastic or foil for 10 to 12 months. Blanch raw squash before freezing.

How to Prepare

Salt squash for 15 minutes prior to cooking to remove some of the water. Blot dry. The seeds can be left in or scooped out. When cutting butternut squash, use a large knife to make a shallow cut down the length of the squash. Scoop out the seeds and any fibrous-strings. Cubes can be cut if desired. Slice crookneck squash into ¼-inch to ½-inch-thick rounds by first cutting both the stem end and blossom end off with a sharp knife. Continue to slice from the neck of the squash.

Ways to Enjoy

Since squash has such a high water content, it is best cooked. Stir-fry, grill, or sauté squash to avoid mush. Steaming, simmering, baking, roasting, or deep frying may cause the overall product to be slightly watery, but is perfectly acceptable. Baking is an excellent way of preserving and intensifying its flavor. Use cooked leftovers in salads, soups, omelets, or casseroles. Cubes can be added to soups or curries. Serve mashed for as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Shred and add to cookies or breads or use as a pasta sauce.

Health Benefits

Squash is a well-balanced food that is low in saturated fats and rich in complex carbohydrates. The seeds of squash and pumpkins are very high in protein; one ounce has as much as seven grams. Squash contains high levels of potassium, helping prevent and control high blood pressure. Its high amounts of beta-carotene that have been linked with lowering cancer cell growth and the risks for developing asthma. It is also great for your skin because it is extremely high in vitamin A and C.

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