Squash’s Healing Benefits: Signs Of Fall In The Kitchen
The Autumnal Equinox is Tuesday, September 22, 2020, at 9:31 A.M. EDT. This official move into Autumn occurs at the same moment everywhere. It also seems the perfect opportunity to explore fall in the kitchen, especially squash’s healing benefits.
Some obvious signs of Autumn, in my kitchen, are:
- Winter Storage Squash’s healing benefits
- Root veggies of all shapes, colors, and flavors
- Beets. I love Beets.
- Brussels Sprouts
As much as I love beets, I am going to focus on buttercup and butternut squash, beets will come later. These winter squash varieties are tasty autumn and winter food and great contributors to cellular health. They both have deeper orange flesh and signature sweetness. Buttercup is a drier, flakier flesh while the butternut is moister flesh.
While squash is fairly low in calories, approximately 80 calories per cup (pre butter application, of course) and is an excellent source of *provitamin A carotenoids, vitamin E and C, the B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Other notable levels of cell happy nutrients are calcium, protein, complex carbohydrates, and phytonutrients / anti-oxidants. And, let’s not forget that squash’s healing benefits include being packed with a healthy punch of fiber that is well used in the intestines for the movement of digestive wastes and feeding the healthy gut microbes that we do want to nurture and keep around.
Squash’s Healing Benefits:
- Anti-cancer (Dr. Hirayama’s National Cancer Research Institute, Tokyo)
- Prevent constipation
- Soothe intestines and supports stopping diarrhea, I love how plant medicine can support issues of both constipation and diarrhea but that is another post topic.
- I could go into the healing benefits of all the individual vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, etc. but let’s stick with the wisdom of knowing that whole foods build strong, healthy, disease resilient bodies. Period.
Consider saving and drying your squash seeds. The seeds make for great planting next year or eat them. Consumption of squash seeds have many healing benefits:
- Prostate health
- Clear intestinal parasites
- Squash tea recipe, from the First Nation People, is used for treating swollen ankles, gout, difficulty urinating (probably a prostate issue), kidney stones, and burning urination.
Using Squash In The Kitchen
Squash is versatile in the kitchen: soups, stews, stir-fries, breads-muffins-cookies, pies, and puddings, sliced thin and used instead of lasagna noodles (use the raw neck of the butternut squash), and enjoyed at every meal. I have grated the raw neck of butternut to make a slaw like salad adding roasted red peppers, slivers of onions, and even a little grated, green cabbage.
Sometimes I will roast the squash in the AM. Revving the oven up in early AM helps to warm a chilly kitchen after a cool night. The sweetness of the squash goes well with eggs for breakfast with plenty of leftovers for making soup.
Thin slice a slightly undercooked buttercup neck and add it to toasted sandwiches. It goes quite well with turkey or chicken, melted cheese, and thin apple slices.
To Make Squash Soup Quickly, Say On An Evening After Working All-day
- 1 medium-sized buttercup or butternut squash
- Medium-sized yellow onion
- 2-4 celery stalks, leaves included if they are on the stalks
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, to your taste
- Liquid of choice for the cream soup
- Fat of choice for the sauté
- Curry powder
Steaming The Squash First
Cut a small to medium squash in half, remove its seeds (save for later?), and put the squash halves into a pot of water with the cut side up. Add about 1 inch of water on the bottom of the pot so the squash is not submerged**. When the water starts to boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cook squash for about 20 minutes. The squash will be cooked by the time you finish with the onion-celery sauté prep.
Sauté The Celery and Onion
- Sauté a medium-sized onion, cut into small chunks, and the celery leaves in bacon fat from local, pasture-raised pigs OR use whatever you like for gentle sautéing: pasture-raised butter, coconut oil lard, tallow, etc. I would avoid most bottled vegetable oils but, again, that is another blog post.
- The celery will sauté quickly so add the celery to the pan after the onions are just about finished. Do not overcook the celery leaves.
- Add approximately 3 1/2 cups milk, half & half, cream, or water to the blender with the cloves of the garlic. I like milk for a creamier and richer soup.
- Add the onion and celery to the blender.
- Plop in big scoops of the squash, use at least one half of the cooked squash. Carefully scoop the squash out of the shell. It will be hot and a steamed squash gets mushy, not rigid like an oven-roasted one.
- To the leftover half of squash, add lots of butter and sprinkle with curry, while it is still hot so the butter melts. Mash the butter and curry into the squash. Put into a dish and take to work tomorrow.
- Sprinkle in 1 tsp. of medium heat curry powder or more to your taste. I use more curry with squash or pumpkin soup because the squash flavor can handle it without being overwhelmed. The curry spices have many health and healing benefits.
- Blend until reaching the consistency and smoothness you want in a cream soup.
- Pour in a soup pot and gently re-warm. Do not boil.
- Add salt to taste.
Nutrient Boost To Squash’s Healing Benefits
For a little color and the extra nutrient boost add beet gratings to the soup once you have put the soup into individual serving bowls.
Using a veggie peeler, peel a tiny layer off of raw beet. Discard these peelings as the outer beet skin tends to be very astringent when raw.
Use the veggie peeler or a cheese grater to grate a small pile of beet gratings.
Plop a little pile into each bowl, on top of the soup. Enjoy what beets add to your soup:
- a raw veggie with dinner
- contrasting color to the pretty orange soup; your artsy cooking style feeds the heart, mind, and soul.
If the pot of soup is big enough, or the eaters few enough, you will have leftovers for lunch or other dinners this week. Or, freeze leftovers in a wide mouth, quart canning jar (leave headspace for expansion during the freezing process), and enjoy in a week or two.
Cheers and happy, healthy cooking.
More Nutritional Information
*Provitamin A carotenoids: plant nutrients, pigments, that are converted into vitamin A in our body.
*Kitchen Advice for sparing the nutrients destined for your cells: Never boil your veggies in a pot full of water. Steam veggies (although the squash I speak of here is actually a fruit) in the least amount of water you can get away with and have the pot not go dry. Less water means less nutrient loss. Pour off the cooking water into a coffee mug, let cool, and drink. This habit supports you “harvesting” every cell enhancing mineral and nutrient out of your produce. I also use cooking water, once cooled, to water my house plants. Your house plants appreciate the mineral-rich cooking water.