Squash the Competition

When it comes to fall harvest time, one of the most favored foods of the season is pumpkin. Traditional favorites usually consist of treats such as pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes. But pumpkins are only one variety of squash, and they are all great choices for the season given their nutritional content.

Squash is chalked full of fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin A, all of which are important to keep your body healthy. However, let’s dive a little deeper into two of the most important reasons to put more squash on your plate tonight.

Beta Carotene and Vitamin C Combo

Squash is much like its orange neighbor, carrots, and full of vitamin C and beta-carotene. Vitamin C aids in cell growth and repair.  This means squash supports eye health and even possibly reduces future vision loss and chances for cataracts. Beta-carotene also helps with skin appearance—it is not on the same level as sunscreen, but it does aid in protection from UV rays. The combo is especially potent when found in food together.

Vital Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a vital vitamin, especially during fall and winter seasons. In places like Seattle, where there are longer periods of darkness, the weather is gloomier and often too wet to go outside. This means people lack natural serotonin from light exposure, which can contribute to sleepiness and sluggishness. Vitamin B6, found in squash, is critical for metabolizing protein, fats and carbohydrates. But it is also crucial for producing serotonin and dopamine, which helps regulate mood. During the darker and wetter seasons, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression becomes more prominent in adults. Adding squash to your regular rotation of daily fruits and vegetables can boost your mood and keep your natural energy levels up.

Fun Fall Fact

The only difference between a gourd and a squash is that gourds are for decorations and squash are for consumption. Therefore, pumpkins are classified as a squash and a gourd.

Simple Spaghetti Squash

One of my fall favorites is spaghetti squash, which is a great substitute for regular pasta noodles. It’s easy to prepare and cooked spaghetti squash lasts three to five days in the refrigerator for great leftovers.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise.
  3. Scoop out the seeds (keep and toast as a yummy snack!).
  4. Lightly drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
  5. Place on baking sheet cut side down and place in oven for about 40 minutes (squash size depending)
  6. Take out of oven and pull fork through to make spaghetti strands
  7. Combine with your favorite sauce and/or protein. I like to pair it with marinara sauce and homemade turkey meatballs.
  8. Enjoy!

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