In honor of National Acorn Squash Day, which is today, I thought I’d share information about this hearty fall vegetable that can be so versatile.
Although like other winter season squashes, such as the pumpkin, it has a firm outer shell … kind of like a gourd … it is actually related to the summer squashes, such as zucchini and yellow crookneck squash.
Acorn squashes provide a decent amount of nutrition. They contain vitamin A, niacin, folate, thiamine and vitamin B-6. In addition, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked, cubed acorn squash provides approximately 20% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for healthy adults following a 2000-calorie diet. Of course, how much vitamin C you receive from your serving depends on how your prepare it.
If you want to get the most vitamin C out of your acorn squash, use it 3-4 days after purchase and cut it just before cooking. Also, steam or bake it — boiling will leach the vitamin C out into the water.
Acorn squash is also a good source of potassium and magnesium. That same 1/2-cup serving provides 13% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of potassium and 11% of magnesium.
Acorn squash provides fiber and antioxidants, as well.
Given its nutritious content, acorn squash is able to impart several health benefits:
- Its Vitamin C helps boost your immune system
- Its Vitamin A helps improve vision and contributes to good skin
- Its fiber help regulate digestion, blood sugar and cholesterol
- Its potassium helps to regulate the fluid balance in the cells and tissues, thus helping with blood pressure. These effects are strengthened by its magnesium content, which regulates the uptake of potassium
Most people probably serve acorn squash the way my mother did, but that’s not the only way you can cook this vegetable/fruit.
- Roast it and mash it up with potatoes
- Stuff it with rice, sausage and savory seasoning — or your favorite other stuffing
- Glaze it with citrus such as orange or grapefruit
- Season it with rosemary
- Pair it with mushrooms, apples or other autumn produce
- Puree it into a creamy soup
- Cube it and add it to pasta (Mac & Cheese and Acorn Squash anyone?)
- Instead of butter and brown sugar, try other ingredients such as mustard and honey
If you do search with the keywords “acorn squash recipes,” you’ll find a wide variety of ways to prepare this seasonal squash.