Butternut squash – smooth as butter, sweet as a nut
Butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squash vegetables, great in stews, casseroles, soups, bread, muffins and pancakes, while it can also be a tasty and flexible accompaniment to any meal.
The Just Routine Cookbook has a whole range of recipe ideas to try. (100g Butternut squash = 2 JR points)
Part of the pumpkin family, it’s a type of winter squash that grows on the vine. The most popular variety, the Waltham Butternut, is a relatively recent development from the 1940s, with it apparently owing its name to the Waltham Field Station in Massachusetts and the texture of the flesh being as “smooth as butter, sweet as nut”.
It later found great popularity in South Africa, where it became known as a ‘Donkey pumpkin’!
A quick and easy way to boost nutrients in any meal. To extract the maximum nutrition butternut squash is best eaten steamed, but any which way you prefer it will still provide ample nutritional benefits:
- Long recognised as an important food source for carotenoids, it is rich in dietary fibre and phytonutrients, and an excellent source of B-vitamins such as folate, niacin, thiamine and vitamin B6.
- A great source of beta-carotene, which converts in the body to vitamin A. Smokers should note that researchers have found that vitamin A deficiency could contribute to emphysema, while there is also some evidence that consuming food high in the carotenoid beta-kryptoxanthin could decrease the incidence of lung cancer.
- Iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, all important to health, are also delivered by this remarkable little squash.
- Many of the carbohydrates found in winter squash come from polysaccharides, including pectin, with an increasing number of studies showing these starch-related components to have antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin regulating properties.
In addition, the seeds are an excellent source of tryptophan – a health promoting amino acid, important for the brain.
Top buying and storing tips
A very dense vegetable, when choosing, single out a squash that is heavy for its size.
Store in a cool, dark place for up to a month, but once cut, store the unused piece in the fridge.
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