A Recipe for Winter Squash: Not Just for Thanksgiving

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A third of a cup isn’t much, no matter how you serve it. Fifteen grams for a bare mouthful, that’s all you get from rice or pasta. If you are a sedentary woman, eating a cupful can use up almost all of your carbohydrate allotment for a meal.  Of course you can eat all you want of broccoli or spinach, but those are niggardly substitutes for carbohydrate foods; they don’t have the flavor, the feel, the panache. This is why you should give some thought to using winter squash as your starch this season.

Yes, sirree a third of a cup isn’t much to write home about, but a cup, now that has legs.  With a cup’s worth you can return your fork onto the plate more than once without scraping it against the porcelain. Unlike zucchini, pattypan and crookneck, those of tender skins and short shelf life, winter squash can go the distance. Dense, meaty and slightly sweet, baked, roasted or stuffed, hard-shelled squash is a perfect foil for winter’s chill. And these beautiful gourds provide food for the eyes as well as the belly.

That’s right you get 2/3 more for your “dollar” from pumpkin’s cousin, 15 grams of carbs for a whole cup. You can even have 1 cup of pasta with it if you are so inclined and keep within a respectable 60 gram carbohydrate count.

For a starchy vegetable, squash is a nutrition blockbuster. It packs a wallop in the vitamin A department (over 200percent of the RDA)  It’s not too shabby in regard to vitamin C, potassium and folate either.  And compared to rice it’s a weight watcher’s bargain at 80 calories for a cup.

It adds a nice bit of flare to the plate, and good presentation can cover a lot.  Rice and pasta, man, do they pale next to the orange vibrancy of squash.  If you serve pale vegetables, you have to go out of your way to make sure you choose non-starchy accompaniments that are colorful enough to brighten the plate.  Not with squash, bring on the cauliflower; it doesn’t look half as drab next to an acorn or butternut squash.

You can really make a splash serving squash in its own gourd. Everybody is familiar with acorn, but have you considered presenting a stuffed green and white dumpling squash and being the talk of the table?

This holiday season, try out the squash recipe below, from The Joslin Diabetes Healthy Carbohydrate Cookbook (available for purchase online at the Joslin Store).

Oven-Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions, Chestnuts and Apples
Per serving 185 cals, 41 g carb, 35 g protein, 2 g fat 8 g fiber

Oven-roasting caramelizes the natural sugars in vegetables, making them taste and smell wonderful. Fresh chestnuts, which are very low in fat, add a distinctive flavor to the mix. If fresh chestnuts aren’t available, you can purchase them already roasted and shelled in a jar.

½ pound fresh chestnuts
½ pound pearl onions
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 teaspoon reduced-fat margarine
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 cup canned low-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon crushed dried
1 large Granny Smith or other tart cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
½ cup unsweetened apple juice

Using a sharp knife, make an X on the flat side of each chestnut.  Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool slightly, then peel off the shells and inner skins.  Break the peeled nuts into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

Refill the saucepan with fresh water and bring to a rapid boil.  Add the pared onions and cook for 4 minutes.  Drain, rinse, and drain again. With a sharp knife, trim off the root end from each onion and slip off the skin.

Preheat the oven to 450oF.  Lightly coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray.  Add the margarine and oil and place in the oven for 3 minutes.

Spread the onions and butternut squash in the roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned.

Meanwhile, combine the peeled chestnuts, broth, and thyme in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is reduced by two-thirds about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the apples over the roasted vegetables and stir in the apple juice.  Continue to roast for another 5 minutes.  Transfer the roasted vegetables and apples to a large serving bowl and stir in the chestnut-broth mixture.  Serve at once.

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