Friday, December 2, 2011

Fresh Friday - Acorn Squash

Fresh Friday is a new series I'm starting that will highlight a healthy food item and it's many benefits. Hopefully over the weekend you'll be able to hit up a farmers market and pick up the item I highlighted and try a new recipe - maybe one of my recipes!

It's the first week of December and if you haven't already, now is the time to pick up some winter squash! Winter squash is awesome. Here's why: 1. It tastes great. 2. It tastes great with brown sugar. 3. It can keep for up to a month in a cool, dry place - like your pantry!

Acorn squash has 9 g of fiber only 115 calories per 1 cooked cup. It's also loaded with potassium and Vitamin A. Winter Squash in general is also known to be high in both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene.*

Plus, it's pretty! With it's flower shape and green and orange coloring it could win a beauty contest among the winter squashes. And an added bonus, you don't need to peel it. Once it is baked you can just separate the flesh from the rind with a little tug or use a butter knife.

If I haven't yet convinced you to head straight to the store or your pantry and start cutting up some acorn squash for dinner, then hopefully this recipe will. I would make this recipe solely for the wonderful aroma that it fills the house with. Surprisingly it smelled like really delicious breakfast sausage cooking!

Spicy Sweet Acorn Squash Rounds
Serves approx 4 as a side dish
(Printable Recipe)

1 acorn squash cut in half and then cut into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch slices
1 Tbls. olive oil (I used lemon meyer flavored olive oil, but any olive oil will do)
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1/8 to 1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper - the latter will make very spicy squash
1/8 Teas. nutmeg
1/4 Teas. or more salt 

-Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut off the top and the bottom of the squash. Cut squash in half. Cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Remove seeds. Handy tip! Use a round cookie cutter to cut the seeds out.
- Pour the olive oil on the parchment and spread evenly using a rubber spatula. Place squash slices on oiled parchment paper.
- Mix brown sugar, cayenne pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle exposed side of squash with 1/2 the sugar mixture. Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Take squash out of the oven and turn each piece over. Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture and a little more salt. 
- Bake for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven, separate flesh from rind and enjoy!

Peace, love, acorn squash and happiness!

*Information gathered from The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth book.

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