Winter squash comes in many shapes and varieties. Substitute any kind of winter squash in your recipes. Winter squash includes many antioxidants and you can eat it either sweet or savory. The most commonly known winter squashes include acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash.

Winter Squash Nutrition Profile

Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C. One cup of cooked squash has 457 percent of the recommended daily allowance! It is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. And like most vegetables, it is free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

The seeds, dried or roasted, contain protein and magnesium and can serve as a very filling, nutrient-dense, low-carbohydrate snack.

How to Cook with Winter Squash

To prepare winter squash, people prefer to roast, bake, puree or sauté. You can also mash or steam it and add it to soups, stews, and chili. Or, stuff squash with whole grains or legumes for a nutrient and protein-packed vegetarian meal option.

You can prepare some varieties, such as acorn and buttercup with the skins on—their skins tend to be harder than other varieties and can be tough to peel.

Spaghetti squash, another winter squash variety, is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate substitution for pasta. It has a stringy, mild, slightly sweet flavor and is the perfect base for olive oil or tomato sauces.

Winter Squash vs. Summer Squash

Summer squash is best when its skin is soft and tender, while winter squash is best when its exterior is rigid and hard. Due to the difference in texture, it’s no surprise that they’re appropriate in different dishes. Winter squash is ideal for baking and stuffing, while summer squash is better served sliced, chopped, and cooked down. You can store winter squash for several months outside of a refrigerator, while you must prepare chilled summer squash within a week or two of purchase.

Try this recipe for Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese as a delicious and healthy alternative to a classic comfort food!

Butternut Squash Mac and cheese

  • 1lbDried pasta
  • 4Tbspunsalted butter
  • 1onion, finely chopped
  • 3cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1tspdried thyme
  • 4Tbspflour
  • 2cupsmilk
  • 2cupsgrated cheese
  • 2cupsbutternut squash puree
  • 1tspDijon mustard
  • 1tspground nutmeg
  • 1tspcayenne
  • 1tspblack pepper
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Drain 2 minutes shy of package instructions and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, cooking until onions are soft (~5 minutes). Stir in flour and cook for about 3 minutes, then add milk- stirring until sauce begins to thicken (a few minutes).
  3. Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheddar. Add squash, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, and black pepper and mix in. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Pour cheese sauce over pasta until sufficiently coated. Using a spatula, transfer to a 9x13 baking dish.
  5. Bake in a 375-degree oven until sauce bubbles around the edges (25-30 minutes).
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