Joy in Winter Cooking

Categories: Healthy Eating, Recipes

Featuring NH Harvest of the Month: Winter Squash

By: Kiah Williams, KSC Dietetic Intern 2018-19

As the weather is getting colder and you start spending more time indoors you may be cooking more soups and warm comforting meals. It can warm your insides as well as your home. Using the oven doesn’t only heat up your food, but it makes your kitchen the coziest room in the house.

This month’s New Hampshire Harvest vegetable of the month is winter squash. Winter squash is harvested throughout late summer and fall in New England (New Hampshire, n.d.). The category of winter squash includes squashes that generally have tougher skin and are easily stored throughout the winter. There are many types of winter squash that all have great health benefits including pumpkin, acorn, butternut, spaghetti, turban, and Hubbard squash (How to Nourish, n.d.).

Winter squash is considered a powerhouse vegetable because it is a great source of many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, C, and K, B vitamins, fiber, magnesium, and iron (Public Health’s Network for a Healthy California, 2011) (Noia, 2014). Vitamin A helps your immune system and your eyesight (National Institutes of Health, 2018). Fiber contributes to healthy digestion. It keeps things moving at the right pace and it also helps feed the healthy bacteria in your intestines. Eating potassium-rich foods can help lower your risk for high blood pressure (Weaver, 2013).

Eating a variety of these squashes can help you get the nutrients you need. If you have tried squash and it isn’t for you, you may find that trying another way of cooking it gives it a very different flavor. Squash can be baked, roasted, stuffed, mashed, and in soups.

Acorn Squash is an especially good source of potassium which most Americans don’t get enough of in their diets. You can often find Acorn Squash at the grocery store or your local farmers market. Yes, the farmers market. Many farmers markets move indoors for the winter, but they are still running, and you can get seasonal foods like locally grown winter squash. The Brattleboro, VT Farmers Market is held inside the C.F. Church at 80 Flat Street from November 3 to March 30th on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm (Brattleboro, n.d.).

 

Caramelized Onion Apple Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

(Rosen, 2016)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 small/med acorn squash cut in half lengthwise and seeds/strings scooped out
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 1 large onion or 2 small, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (for caramelizing the onions) + 2 tsp (for sautéing the garlic)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium-large apple cored and diced
  • 3 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme chopped
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the 4 acorn squash halves (seeds removed) open-side down on the baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the top of your squash feels tender when gently pressed. You can always check them and continue to roast a few more minutes if they aren’t tender enough. Set aside after removing from oven.
  • While the squash roasts, make the filling. Begin by caramelizing the onions (this process takes a good 20-25 minutes to really bring the flavor out!)
  • In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat and add all the onions, stirring to coat. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cook over low heat, stirring every 5 minutes ago to prevent burning. Once onions have been cooking for about 25 minutes and are deep golden brown, remove from heat and set aside.
  • While the squash roasts and the onions cook, heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until just tender, then add all the sausage and increase the heat to medium.
  • Cook the sausage and stir to break up lumps, about 5-8 minutes until just browned. Add the apples and herbs and continue to cook, stirring until the apples soften. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts.
  • Add the caramelized onions to the sausage mixture, leaving excess cooking fat in the pan. Preheat your broiler, then fill all 4 halves of the squash with the stuffing mixture (you may have leftover depending on how big your squash was)
  • Arrange the squash on the baking sheet, stuffing side up, and put under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until the tops get nice and toasty, checking often to prevent burning. Once nice and browned, remove from oven, allow to cool a bit and then serve warm. Enjoy!

References

Brattleboro Farmers Market (Winter). NOFA Vermont. https://nofavt.org/farmers-markets/brattleboro-farmers-market-winter. Accessed November 14, 2018

How to Nourish Wish Winter Squash. Utah State University Food Sense.  https://extension.usu.edu/fscreate/ou-files/winter_squash_how_to_nourish_with.pdf. Accessed October 30, 2018

National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A. Published October 5, 2018. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/. Accessed October 30, 2018

New Hampshire Harvest Calendar U-Pick Farms. n.d. http://www.pickyourown.org/NHharvestcalendar.htm. Accessed October 30, 2018

Noia JD. Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E95. Published 2014 Jun 5. doi:10.5888/pcd11.130390 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049200/

Public Health’s Network for a Healthy California. Harvest of the Month. http://harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/documents/Fall/21712/Ed_News_Winter%20Squash.pdf. Published 2011. Accessed October 30, 2018

Rosen, M. Caramelized Onion Apple Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash. Paleo Running Momma. Published October 30, 2016. https://www.paleorunningmomma.com/sausage-stuffed-acorn-squash-paleo-whole30/. Accessed October 30, 2018

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/15037?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=halibut&ds=SR&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=. Accessed October 30, 2018

Weaver CM. Potassium and health. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(3):368S-77S. Published 2013 May 6. doi:10.3945/an.112.003533. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650509/