…A squash! & other health benefits
Have you ever been to a pumpkin patch to pick out decorative autumn pumpkins?
During the month of October, many families including mine make our annual family trip to the pumpkin patch. Arriving early and before the crowds, we wore masks and practiced physical distancing to the equivalent of the “largest pumpkin in the world” – which is way beyond 6 feet and weighs 2624.6 lbs! (Seriously, click here and see for yourself. I question the fertilizer used, but I’m impressed nonetheless.)
A pumpkin patch is a funky site. Hundreds of round, ribbed and orange spheres of all sizes spanning a muddy farm field, as far as the eyes can see! It’s always nice to take part in this communal tradition marking the fall season, and to be amongst other families and community members (outside of course!) doing the same.
Although we were shopping for ornamental pumpkins, I really was there for the farmer stands of unique and colourful varieties of squash. Did you know that the pumpkin family of vegetables – which includes squash – provides the widest ranging food for us to eat? (Nine hundred and sixty-five varieties, to be exact!)
Aside from squash, other common vegetables in the pumpkin family include zucchini, watermelon, cucumber, melon, cantaloupe and bitter melon – which are all delicious and nutritious with high amounts of Vitamin A, C, E and B. They also have a ton of fibre and not a lot of calories – making them, pound-for-pound, one of the healthiest foods around.
But if you’re not a huge fan of the varieties mentioned above, don’t give up! Here are some suggestions of more unique varieties that have really great flavours and textures:
- Buttercup, delicata (known as sweet potato squash), kabocha and dumpling squashes are soft and sweet. Just bake or roast them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper to enjoy their natural sweetness.
- Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins and Red Kuri Squash are great for soups and stews. Try my White Bean and Pumpkin Stew with Tadka recipe that uses these varieties by clicking here.
So at the pumpkin patch, I was trying to figure out how many squash I could fit in my kitchen storage area for the winter. 🙂 If stored in a dark cool area, squash can last for months – ensuring that you always have a very nutritious and filling staple on hand ready to enjoy.
Remember – Tasty food and healthy food are not mutually exclusive!