Silly Food Fact
What is a funny-looking vegetable, shaped like a pear, but a cousin to the pumpkin? Oh yes, it also has an exact birth-year: 1944. You are right … the butternut squash. The squash family is thousands of years old, but the butternut is a recent member and also the most popular of all winter squashes. Its curvy shape is perfect for craft projects—use it as an ideal turkey body for a Thanksgiving centerpiece, or paint numbers on it to make a perky bowling pin.
Why Our Bodies Love It
Low in calories, butternut squash offers fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. It provides more vitamin A than pumpkin: one cup of squash gives almost 150% of RDA. The beta carotene contained in butternut squash fights free radicals and may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Squash seeds are a great high-protein snack food.
Care and Picking
To grow butternut squash, sow seeds or seedlings in warm soil with plenty of space for those big vines. Be careful Healthy Little Cooks! Don’t overwater; that can lead to rotting of roots and vines. As the squash ripens, its flesh becomes increasingly deep orange and gains a rich taste. Once harvested, the squash can last for weeks in a cool, dry place.
Tips and Warnings
When purchasing, look for heavy, unwrinkled squash without spots or bruises. The stem should be firmly adhered to the body. Butternut squash is a great value because it has a smaller cavity than most other squashes, offering more edible flesh and less waste. Also note that butternut squash can be used interchangeably with pumpkin in nearly all recipes.
Kids can learn step-by-step instructions on how to prepare butternut squash.