So appropriately named, that butternut squash. Both buttery and a bit nutty. The bright tangerine in color and that hour-glass shape tell us fall has arrived! And with that arrival, that sunny shade indicates an abundance of health warrior nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease and many other unwanted health issues. But that is not all. Come with me to learn a bit more why you want to place this beauty in your grocery cart . . . and often. (And, don’t miss the easy, fantastic sweet and spicy soup recipe, too!)
BUTTERNUT SQUASH & ITS INCREDIBLE HEALTH BENEFITS
Here is the roll-out of four big reasons why to include butternut squash in your diet regularly while in season:
1. Keep the immunity going strong. The gourd provides very high levels of beta-carotene that your body automatically converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A keeps the immunity strong and acts as a great deterrent against cancer and age-related macular degeneration. Significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems are throughout the squash as well.
Don’t miss this: Here are some other superfoods to keep your immunity climbing!
2. It tastes rich, but it is not. It is low in fat, despite the buttery, rich and silky feel and it delivers an ample amount of dietary fiber to keep you full.
3. Those with child should consume it often. It is a great pregnancy food as the high folate content is a boost to guarding against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects such as spina bifida.
Don’t miss this: Other great ways to get your body ready for pregnancy.
4. It calms your body. The gourd may create anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content, reducing the risk of inflammation-related disorders.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH & PEAR SOUP WITH CHILI
Note: When choosing a pear for this dish, do not use a Bosc as they can be a bit gritty and counteract the smoothness of the soup. If you can, choose organic.
For the soup:
- 3 tablespoons macadamia nut oil divided
- 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded
- 1 pear, cubed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
- 4 cups organic chicken broth or more, if needed
- 2 teaspoons honey-optional
For the lime cream:
- 1/3 cup organic plain Greek yogurt
- pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Juice and zest of 1/2 a small lime
parchment paper, unbleached
Now do this:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- While oven is preheating, grease the cut sides of the squash and pear with 1 teaspoon of the oil.
- Season with salt and pepper and lay squash only on a cookie sheet lined with the parchment paper cut side down.
- Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Add pear to the pan and roast an additional 15 minutes or until both are tender.
- Cool for 15 minutes.
The roasting can be conducted ahead of time and refrigerated until later.
- While squash and pear are roasting, mix all ingredients for lime cream together and set aside at room temperature.
- In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add the remaining oil and saute the onion, celery, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper.
- Saute about 7 minutes or until tender.
- Add the garlic and chipotle pepper.
- While vegetables are sauteing, scoop the butternut squash flesh from the skin and add it and the pear to the pot.
- Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender and flavors have melded together – maybe 20 minutes.
- Take the lid off and add the honey, if using.
- Using an immersion blender, very carefully puree the soup and add more broth if necessary to a soup consistency.
- Taste soup and cream and adjust seasonings.
- Ladle soup into bowls and swirl a tiny dollop of lime cream on top.
butternut squash: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/65924740@N00/4041843930/”>judy_and_ed</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>