Crunchy wraps? Chocolate cakes? There's more than one way to incorporate nutrition-loaded squash into your meal plan. Photo by: iStockphoto.com
August 14, 2019 10:56:38 AM
I confess: My younger self was not a fan of squash. My older self has learned the world is full of things I turned my nose up at back then. I wish I could tell my late granddaddy who grew them on his Pontotoc farm and did his best to coax a stubborn little girl to try them.
"Squash" encompasses any number of different varieties, like pumpkins and zucchinis. They all belong to the genus Cucurbita. But when I think squash, I first think of the sunshine yellow ones, the crooknecks and two-toned zephyrs we gravitate toward at the farmers market. Botanically they are fruits; did you know? They have seeds and develop from the flowers of a plant. Most of us happily go through life thinking squash is a vegetable, probably because it's usually prepared like one.
The entire squash plant is edible, and all types pack a nutritious health punch, rich in B vitamins and vitamin C, with properties that can benefit the immune system, build bones, improve vision, help manage symptoms of diabetes and more.
It's interesting to me that Wikipedia tells us that William Clark -- of Lewis and Clark -- recorded in October 1804 that the Arikara tribe raised great quantities of foods, including a summer squash. Two hundred-plus years later, we're still growing it -- and roasting it, baking it, steaming it, grilling it, broiling it, mixing it in salads, even in chocolate cake (see the recipes today).
Summer squash generally hit their peak from early to late summer. Look for small- to medium-sized squash with brightly-colored skin. Avoid any with soft spots, dents or bruises. Summer squash is highly perishable, says Better Homes and Gardens; store it in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to five days.
Try one or more of today's recipes that incorporate squash in delicious ways. They just may convince any picky hold-outs at your dinner table to give in sooner than I did.
Makes 4 servings
4 tablespoons cream cheese, low-fat (whipped)
2 flour tortillas
1/6 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix (1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 cup broccoli (washed and chopped)
1/4 cup carrot (peeled and grated)
1/4 cup zucchini (washed and cut into small strips)
1/4 cup summer squash (yellow, washed and cut into small strips)
1/2 tomato (diced)
1/8 cup green bell pepper (seeded and diced)
2 tablespoons chives (chopped fine)
(Source: Connecticut Food Policy Council)
5 A DAY SALAD
4 cups spinach (fresh)
4 cups romaine lettuce
2 cups green pepper (chopped, or use red, yellow, or orange)
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 cup broccoli (chopped)
1 cup cauliflower (chopped)
1 cup yellow squash (sliced)
2 cups cucumber (sliced)
2 cups carrot (chopped)
1 cup zucchini (sliced)
(Source: Centers for Disease Control, 5 A Day for Better Health Program)
AUNT BARBARA'S CHOCOLATE SQUASH CAKE
Makes 12 servings
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 package cake mix, dark chocolate
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup squash (shredded or finely chopped)
Chopped walnuts (1/4 cup, optional)
(Source: Connecticut Food Policy Council/whatscooking.fns.gov)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.