It’s finally fall, and the weather is gourd-geous! I’m a big fan of puns, and an even bigger fan of squash.
Squash are members of the gourd family and fall in two categories—summer squash and winter squash. While they are similar, the biggest variation in these two types is in their maturity and growing times.
Summer squash are ready for harvest and consumption in the summer months. Think of green and yellow zucchini. They are best enjoyed when their skin is soft and tender.
Winter squash are usually not available for harvest and consumption until the end of summer and can be stored until winter. The most common examples of these squash include butternut, spaghetti, acorn, and pumpkin. Winter squash are best enjoyed when their skin is rigid and hard.
Squash are full of vitamins A and C, as well as iron, riboflavin, and niacin. So now is the perfect time to load up on seasonal squash from the grocery store or visit your local farmers market to try something new! Check out these recipes that truly showcase the versatility and deliciousness of squash.
SLIDESHOW: 5 seasonal squash recipes
Butternut squash is sometimes described as a combination of carrots, turnips, and sweet potatoes. Delicately sweet, slightly nutty, and deliciously dense, this squash is the perfect match for any seasonal meal. It’s sure to please in this recipe that mixes butternut squash with tri-colored quinoa, tart dried cherries, and salty feta cheese—all topped with a homemade dressing that will instantly leave your kitchen smelling like fall.View Recipe
Acorn squash has a buttery and sweet taste, similar to the texture of pumpkin but slightly sweeter. Its mild flavor and aroma makes it a favorite among cooks! Whether roasted, steamed, stuffed, or sautéed, it is sure to please. My favorite way to use acorn squash is to stuff it, and this recipe is a great example. The combination of hearty brown rice, lean ground beef, gently sautéed tomatoes, and a myriad of fragrant spices equals a colorful and nutrient-packed dish for those cozy fall evenings.View Recipe
It’s a noodle impostor! Spaghetti squash looks like pasta and has a similar texture, but it can’t fool anyone when it comes to flavor. With a very mild, almost earthy taste, spaghetti squash is a great alternative if you’re looking to add more vegetables to your meals. Creamy ricotta, heart-healthy olive oil, antioxidant-rich kale, and plenty of garlic make up the filling for these spaghetti squash lasagna boats. Adding lean ground turkey to this easy, homemade sauce creates the perfect well-rounded meal for the whole family to enjoy on a pasta-themed night!View Recipe
I recently read in an article that delicata squash is sometimes called the “sweet potato squash” for its brown sugar flavor, and its taste is described as a cross between fresh corn and pumpkin pie. Yum! Combining the natural sweetness of this squash with the saltiness of lean turkey sausage, savory sautéed onions and green peppers, and plenty of spices makes this recipe a great option to serve as an entrée, or to compliment any meal this fall.View Recipe
I donut know what I’d do without a little dessert every now and then! And who can really say no to donuts? Pureed butternut squash and heart-healthy oil keep this treat moist without all the added fats. Maple syrup and allspice also give it the perfect blend of fall flavors with a touch of sweetness to satisfy any sweet tooth in your family! This is a great way to re-purpose any leftover butternut squash you may have.View Recipe
Hungry for more?
Cooler weather means cozier foods. Try these 5 healthy fall recipes. Get more information on YMCA memberships and health and fitness programs at your local YMCA fitness center near you.