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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Butter Up to Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squash varieties. It has a pale peach color on the outside but yields a yellow-orange flesh on the inside. It's flavor is reminiscent of a buttered sweet potato, and it's a versatile ingredient in many fall dishes.

Butternut squash ranks high on the nutritional list. One cup of squash has only 82 calories but 6 grams dietary fiber, 580 milligrams potassium, nearly 50% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, and over 350% of the RDA of vitamin A. Store squash in a cool, dark place for 1-2 months, but refrigerate once cut.

To cut through the hard peel and flesh of winter squash, try microwaving it for 3-5 minutes first. It will soften just enough to be able to put a sharp knife through the middle, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. If using mashed squash, simply place the two halves flesh-down in a glass pan, and pour in ¼" of water. Either microwave for 9 to 12 minutes, or roast in a 400°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until easily pierced by a fork. If needing cubes, trim ¼" from top and bottom of the squash with a sharp knife. Peel with a vegetable peeler, cut in half, and then proceed to scoop out the seeds.

Butternut squash can be roasted with other root vegetables, pureed into a soup, or mashed into a pasta sauce. It's a fall favorite!

Ground Turkey and Butternut Squash Skillet (Printable PDF)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lb. lean ground turkey

1 ½ Tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups cubed)

½ cup water

½ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup chopped cilantro

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and pepper; cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and ground turkey. Use a wooden spoon to break apart meat and cook until meat is just browned. Drain off any fat. Add cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper; stir well. Add squash and water. Stir and cover with a lid. Continue to cook until squash softens. Remove lid; top with mozzarella and cilantro. Put lid back on until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 200 calories, 8 grams fat, 340 milligrams sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 20 grams protein