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Acorn Squash: The Winter Squash You Need to Know About

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by Samantha Linden, RDN, NLC

Fall is in the air! Which means it’s boots, blazers, and…squash season! Pumpkins always seem to take center stage around this time, obviously fueled by the energy and excitement of Halloween (I think a dietitian’s least favorite holiday). Butternut squash comes in a close second, getting its yearly fifteen minutes of fame on menus everywhere right now. As a nutritionist, this makes me so happy! Is there anything better than seeing people eat seasonally? When you eat foods that are in season, you are eating produce picked and eaten at its peak. In general, these foods will be richer in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And while pumpkin and butternut squash certainly deserve the spotlight, I think some of autumn’s other produce offerings get upstaged far too often. So I am taking this opportunity to highlight a new star of the show: my personal favorite winter squash, the acorn squash. Acorn squash is the green, speckled round squash you see next to butternut squash at the grocery store…the one that probably has not made it into your grocery cart. Hopefully, that’s about to change.

 

Why I think acorn squash should not be ignored:

  • Like pumpkin and butternut squash, it is an extremely nutrient dense food, meaning that it is rich in nutrients and low in calories.
  • Acorn squash is an exceptional source of antioxidants.  A 1-cup serving gives you 25% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 25% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. {Tweet this}.
  • Like all winter squash, acorn squash is rich in carotenes and has been linked to being protective against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration.
  • Acorn squash is a starchy vegetable so it is higher in carbohydrates than many other vegetables. However, it is rich in fiber, providing around 5 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving. That fiber will help slow down digestion, fill you up and might even help prevent you from digging into that leftover Halloween candy.
  • Acorn squash is also known for being high in thiamine, a B vitamin that helps the body metabolize food.
  • Like its orange counterparts, acorn squash is rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium. Magnesium and calcium help to maintain normal blood pressure and magnesium has also been shown to help inhibit fat absorption. Iron is needed to help form red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body.
  • Winter squash, acorn included, has a long shelf life. So, if you don’t get around to preparing it the week you bought it, you have a few more weeks to give it a shot!

 

At Nutritious Life, Keri promotes finding your healthy food memories and incorporating them into being your most nutritious self. Healthy food memories are healthy foods that were part of your childhood that personally invoke happy, comforting emotions.  For me, my dad’s acorn squash is one of mine. It was nothing fussy, just simple and yummy and always appeared on our dinner table in the fall.  Below is the recipe he used to make and I added an egg baked in to help bump up the protein and turn a side dish into a meal. I hope your family enjoys this as much is mine did, and maybe it will even become one of your kids’ healthy food memories!

 

Baked Acorn Squash with Egg Baked Inside

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Slice acorn squash in half and scoop out all the seeds (set aside if you want to cook them for an extra nutritious snack later).
  • Add a teaspoon of sweetener like honey, agave or maple syrup to each half.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Take out of the oven (but leave the oven on). Crack one egg into each squash half, trying to get the yolk in first.
  • Place back into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the egg is cooked to your desired consistency.
  • Sprinkle your favorite herb or spice on top of the egg and enjoy!

 

 

 

About Samantha: Samantha Linden, RDN, NLC  is a registered dietitian nutritionist and the founder of Nutrition In Balance, a nutrition consulting and counseling practice in Southeastern Michigan. In her practice, Samantha works with both individuals and families that need guidance on many nutrition related issues, from weight loss to nutritional management of chronic diseases. Samantha writes frequently on nutrition topics and is also a regular nutrition educator for many local corporations and organizations.  She graduated from the University of Michigan and received her post bachelor’s certificate in nutrition from Wayne State. Samantha is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the Nutrition Entrepreneurs in Private Practice and the Michigan Dietetics Association. She also recently completed her Nutritious Life Certification and is very excited to help Keri and her team spread the Nutritious Life message.

 

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