The Cell Healing Benefits of Winter Storage Squash

The Cell Healing Benefits of Winter Storage Squash


As we sink into Autumn, I invite people to focus on the flavors and nourishing – medicinal qualities of traditionally stored foods. Food is our best medicine.

Winter squash provides colorful eating, varying degrees of sweet taste, and deep cellular nourishment in every bite. Squashes originated in the Americas. Modern day eating squash developed from wild squash which originated between Guatemala and Mexico. Native Americans (corn, beans, and squash make up the 3 Sisters Gardens) introduced squash to Europeans. The word squash is derived from the Algonquin word “askoot asquash.” This Algonquin word means “eaten green.”

Winter squashes are tastier and more nutritious than the summer squash varieties and a higher source of natural sugars. This higher natural sugar content gives Winter Squashes their amazing range of sweet flavors. Winter Squash is also higher in carbohydrates and the *carotenoids. Squashes are high in vitamin A (carotenoids) and C, potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin B2, folate, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, vitamin B3, and small amounts of omega-3 fats. Squashes also contain calcium, other trace minerals, cell wall polysaccharides, and plenty of anti-oxidants and phenolic phyto-nutrients.

The complex carbohydrates and fibers of Winter Squash support gut health. (See the recently posted articles on Gut Health Parts 1, 2, & 3. Gut health is where whole body health begins: immune, mood, neuro, cellular…) There are many ways fiber impacts gut health. I will share a few here in quick bullet points. I invite you to dive into your own research, learn more, and use your wisdom to heal gut health, cell health, and whole-body health.

Some health impacts of dietary fiber from whole food choices:

  • Regulates bowel movements keeping the intestines clean and toned while preventing constipation.
  • Supports healthy gut microbial population (processed, refined foods support the destruction of healthy gut microbes and the overgrowth of not so health microbes in the gut).
  • Supports removal of parasites from the intestines.
  • Supports blood sugar control and may prevent insulin resistance and associated diseases.
  • Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, the importance of cholesterol and fats for human health is another topic for a different day.
  • Sweeps out potential toxins and carcinogens from our systems.

Winter squash are an inflammation modulating food. With the increase in inflammatory related symptoms and the resultant illnesses, a good dose of squash every few days in the fall, winter, and early spring can be a healing lifestyle choice. Winter squash contain cucurbitacin. Cucurbitacin molecules are inflammation modulating. Cucurbitacins are glycoside molecules found in a variety of foods, including the brassica vegetables, some mushrooms, and some forms of seafood.

Our most familiar winter squash is the pumpkin. Pumpkins are known to Americans in the form of Halloween jack-o-lanterns and Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. Heritage varieties of pie pumpkins are densely nutritious and satisfying food for the long, cold days of winter. Cutting up raw pumpkin and adding it to soups and stews makes for a hearty winter dinner. Adding pureed pumpkin to chocolate chips cookies, sprinkling in some warming spices, makes for a deeply flavorful fall and winter cookie treat. Recipes to follow.

The energetic qualities of winter squash are warming to the body and help to improve circulation. Squash (and pumpkins) have many healing uses. I will list some here.

  • Cooked, deep orange squash or pumpkin is a soothing remedy for sunburn and skin burns, Use the cold, cooked flesh that you have stored in the refrigerator. Place directly onto the skin burns for pain relief. Do not use on severe burns such as 3rd degree.
  • This same cool squash flesh can be applied to the forehead for headache and migraine relief.
  • Squash and pumpkin seeds are cell nourishing food and are gentle parasite cleansers. The seeds can be dried and eaten raw or lightly roasted on low oven temperatures.
  • Pumpkin and squash seeds are high in zinc and nourishing / medicinal food for the prostate.
  • Tea, made from the seeds, is used for urinary tract difficulties. The seeds are crushed and simmered very gently, covered in a pot for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to steep for another 30 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups daily.
  • The highly nutritious squash is an important part of an anti-cancer diet and nourishing medicine to support the prevention and healing of many degenerative disease processes.

Fun & tasty ways to enjoy squash and pumpkins:

  • Instead of lasagna noodles, use the neck of a buttercup squash. You can peel and slice the long neck into thin layers. Piece together your favorite lasagna recipe using the raw squash slices instead of grain-based noodles.
  • Save the leftover cooked squash. Make a pot of vegetable soup and add the squash to the broth / water to make a heartier, sweeter soup stock.
  • Add cooked squash and pumpkin to quick breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and cookies for added flavor, sweetness, and nutritional density. Cut back on the recipes sugar content and revel in the natural, whole food sweetness of the squash.
  • Add a tablespoon of cooked buttercup squash to your milk for hot chocolate or coffee. Add pumpkin pie spices, vanilla, and a touch of honey or maple syrup to make your own, natural pumpkin spiced lattes.
  • Add to smoothies to make a pumpkin pie spiced smoothie. Milk, cooked pumpkin or squash, vanilla, honey, spices (pumpkin pie or Chai spices).
  • Peel a deep orange squash or pumpkin and grate it raw. Make a cabbage like salad out of the raw squash. Be creative with the dressing you make for this; again, pumpkin pie or chai spices are a fun way to liven up a winter dinner salad.
  • Add the gratings, or bite sized chunks of raw squash, to a regular green salad.
  • Hollow out a squash or pumpkin, use the flesh in cooking up a pumpkin / squash soup, and use the hollowed-out skin as your soup tureen.
  • Puree cooked squash, like you were making a creamed soup, and serve as sauce over pasta. Again, have fun with pumpkin pie or chai spices. Add chick peas and coconut flakes. Toasted cashews would be yummy or how about some toasted pumpkin or squash seeds? Add chorizo sausage chunks and grated asiago cheese.
  • Slices of raw squash or use the leftover cooked squash in an omelet. Squash pairs well with your favorite cheese in an omelet. You can put slices of raw squash onto the fry pan bottom, crack eggs on top, cook to your desired doneness, and sprinkle with feta cheese.
  • Be brave. Think outside the box and discover fun ways to add squash to your daily life. An outside the box idea: leftover cooked squash added into your oatmeal with pumpkin pie or chai spices, honey, and vanilla. What a tasty, nourishing, and different breakfast experience.

alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin are some of the cell nourishing, immune stimulating, body healing carotenoids we have discovered in whole foods. In many cultures, no single food provides a greater percentage of certain carotenoids than winter squash.

Thai Noodle Soup (2-3 servings)

All organic ingredients & available at the Co-op.


  • 4-5 Green onions or leeks chop into 1-ish lengths, the onion bulb a bit smaller
  • Bunch of Cilantro: chop with scissors
  • 4-5 cloves of Garlic
  • Plenty of fresh Mushrooms
  • Package of Thai Noodles
  • Quart box of organic chicken bone broth if you do not have homemade bone broth
  • Jar of ginger sushi
  • Sausage chunks chicken-beef-pork chucks, scrambled eggs, tofu, etc. Your choice of fatty protein to add some satiation, fat soluble nutrition, and appetite staying power.
  • Unrefined salt and gourmet peppercorns to grind into soup to your taste.

Optional Ingredients to change it up each time you make noodle soup:

  • Full Fat coconut milk: add to broth for a thicker and more fat filling soup broth. I am referring to the cans of coconut milk used in Thai cooking not the aseptic quart containers sold as dairy replacement drinks.
  • Sautéed red peppers carrots, celery, or any other veggie that makes your taste buds and tummy happy or chop and add raw to the soup mix.
  • Hot peppers of your choice, to the spice heat you desire.
  • Fresh basil oregano, thyme, peppermint, etc. Mix & match fresh herbs to please your palate.


  • Add bone broth to a soup pot and turn on the heat to very low simmer flame. Do not bring the bone broth to a boil, just keep it low heating the soup to be warm/hot but not boiling the noodles & herbs to a mushy state.
  • Add coconut milk here is you chose to use it.
  • Add the Thai noodles and stir so the noodles do not stick together. As you heat the broth, the noodles will cook and not get mushy.
  • Gently sauté the chopped mushrooms in butter, pork lard, bacon fat, sesame oil… whatever you normally choose to sauté veggies in.
  • Prep the garlic, green onions, & cilantro to add to the pot. I do not sauté the greens of the onions or the cilantro.
  • If I am using leeks, I do sauté them.
  • I do quickly sauté the chopped garlic. If I pressed the garlic, instead of knife chopping it, I would just add it, raw, to the soup pot.
  • Prep the protein you have chosen. Chop and add to your soup bowls.
  • Add ginger sushi to your bowls in the amount to your taste & desire. We use ½ the jar for the 2-3 bowls of noodle soup.
  • Ladle the noodle soup on top of the ginger and protein.
  • Salt & pepper to taste.
  • Mix together to disperse the ginger & protein in your soup.
  • Enjoy.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 to ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg if using gluten free flours use 2 eggs for the binding support of the egg whites
  • 1 cup cooked squash or pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups *whole grain flour spelt, whole wheat pastry, whole oat, or any whole grain – gluten free options
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. all spice vary spice amounts to your taste, I like a bit more
  • ½ tsp. unrefined sea salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


  • Blend together all dry ingredients
  • Beat egg, butter, and sugar together
  • Beat in squash or pumpkin and vanilla
  • Add wet and dry together and mix thoroughly.
  • Add chocolate chips
  • Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
  • Cool & enjoy with a glass of cold milk from naturally raised animals.


If using refined flours (which I invite you to avoid for cell health reasons), use 2 cups of flour
To make into oatmeal raisin cookies:
  • Use ¾ cup whole grain flour & ¾ cup oatmeal flakes
  • Substitute raisins for the chocolate chips OR add both for extra cookie yumminess.

My written information is from my wisdom, research, training, and experience in western medicine (Functional Medicine RN) and Natural Medicine -Holistic Modalities – Herbalist certification. My views are not necessarily the views of the Potsdam Food Co-op. When we make choices about our health, use other’s advice, and make choices based upon that advice; we are taking our health into our own hands. Our choices, and any actions that result from said choices, are our own responsibility. Using herbs wisely, as food and medicine, requires hands on learning and working with a trained herbalist while you create your own knowledge base. Yes, this is my disclaimer.

-Paula Youmell, RN

Find more articles by Paula Youmell, RN, Wise Woman Nurse.

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