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 Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs for a delicious and healthy meal option.

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

SERVES 4: 3/4 CUP SQUASH, 3/4 cup sauce & 3 meatballs each
  • 13-lb. spaghetti squash
  • 2TbspWater
  • 2Tbspextra-virgin olive oil,
  • 1/2cupchopped parsley,
  • 1/2cupfinely shredded Parmesan cheese,
  • 1 1/4tspItalian seasoning,
  • 1/2tsponion powder
  • 1/2tspsalt
  • 1/2tsppepper
  • 1lb93%-lean ground turkey
  • 4large cloves garlic, minced
  • 128-oz. can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4tspcrushed red pepper
  1. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place face down in a microwave-safe dish; add water. Microwave, uncovered, on High until the flesh can be easily scraped with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape the squash flesh into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until the moisture is evaporated and the squash is beginning to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup parsley. Remove from heat, cover and let stand.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 cup parsley, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add turkey; gently mix to combine (do not overmix). Using about 2 tablespoons each, form into 12 meatballs.
  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, reduce heat to medium and cook until browned all over, 4 to 6 minutes. Push the meatballs to the side of the pan, add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper to taste, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir to coat the meatballs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes more.
  5. Serve the meatballs over the squash with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
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