As a chef, when seasons change, the biggest thrill for me is the change in my menu. When summer falls away and autumn rolls in, one of my favorite things to play with in the kitchen is squash. The health enthusiast in me loves the nutrition squash brings to the table. Check out Dr. Lisa’s take on squash at the bottom of this post.
You’ll see as you get to know me that I’m not one for typical recipes and ingredients. If I do something traditional, it’s usually with a unique twist. So I’m not going to talk about the longtime fall favorite, butternut squash. Too predictable. Everyone has had it and loves it; whether it’s in a delicious soup, roasted, mashed, or in a lasagna. So to be fair and spread the love, I want to shine some light on four winter squash that are not butternut.
From Dr. Lisa:
In the season of All-Things-Pumpkin, I love that Chef Amber mixes it up with a smorgasbord of fall-flavored goodies that hit both the nourishing and soul-comforting aspects of good food.
In the clinic, I love the squash family for 3 main reasons:
- Anti-Inflammatory — With inflammation running rampant, and thought to be the instigator behind everything from high cholesterol, to weight loss resistance to fibromyalgia to depression to autoimmunity — food can become a strategic healing tool. There is no one diet that fits all because every body is biochemically unique and often dealing with unique physiological challenges. In working with patients, I teach them how to uncover their specific inflammatory food triggers — but squash is well-tolerated by about 95% of people, so it’s a great anti-inflammatory foundation food for most.
- Gentle Carb — Once the nutrition darling, carbs have become the nutrition outcast. But we need carbs! We need them for energy creation, brain clarity and neurotransmitter production, thyroid hormone conversion and blood sugar control. It’s not uncommon to see people —especially women — struggling with health issues (i.e. fatigue, weight gain, thyroid issues) because their carb intake is too low. Of course we want to pick the right carbs to create a smooth blood sugar ride. Squashes — especially paired with good fats and proteins like EVOO, marcona almonds, goat cheese and grass-fed ghee — are that perfect combination of gentle carbs, fiber, minerals and phytonutrients to fulfill your carb needs while avoiding the blood sugar roller coaster.
- Simple — Chef Amber had me at the “Super Simple How-To” section. I love food that loves me back, but the downside is often feeling like you are living in the kitchen. Not my jam. And also one of the biggest obstacles I see for people being successful with their health goals. The genius of these recipes is that you can pop them in the oven and walk away and you can batch cook ahead of time so that you can grab and go during the week. Win-Win!