For many centuries, squash has been cultivated by the First Nations. Today, Québec and Ontario are the two largest producers in Canada. You can pick your own in some places or buy them in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Let’s take a look at symbolic fall food.
Let's differentiate squash...
First of all, there are summer squashes. They look like thick discs with petal-shaped outlines. They have a diameter of about 10 cm and each fruit weighs between 200 and 300 grams. The colours may vary. Summer squashes taste somewhat like an artichoke. The tenderness of their flesh depends on how ripe the fruit is. When young, they are eaten like zucchini. They can be prepared raw, made into a salad, fried or sautéed with other vegetables. They should be prepared differently depending on the maturity of the fruit, because a change in their texture is noticeable. You can use them to make ratatouille, a vegetable gratin, stuff them with delicious ingredients, or roast them in the oven.
Then, there are the winter squashes (pepo). Moreover, the squash also called the Lady Godiva, is part of this category. It derives its nickname from the story of Lady Godiva, an Anglo-Saxon woman who rode naked through her village on her horse in order to shame her husband into reducing the taxes he levied to finance his military campaigns. This squash's seeds have no scales. This variety is also the source of squash seed oil. We often seen it marketed as pumpkin seed oil (particularly by the brand, Orpheus).
There is also the family of acorn squashes. The acorn squash is, as the name indicates, acorn-shaped and has about ten ridges. It comes in a variety of colours, both plain and marbled. Its firm flesh can take different shades of cream and orange.
Many are familiar with the spaghetti squash. Its colour varies between cream and orange. It has a sweet nutty aroma and its flesh, light to dark yellow in color, breaks up into large strands after cooking, hence its name. Spaghetti squash is usually eaten as a substitute for pasta in recipes. It can also be cooked in sauerkraut, salad or jam. Some available varieties are Spaghetti, Orangetti, Stripetti and Small Wonder.
Also, some squashes are nicknamed "summer squash." This is the case of the zucchini. This variety of squash is picked before it is fully ripe and has a soft, edible skin. Summer squash cannot be stored as long as winter squash (butternut and acorn squash, for example).
The nutritional value of squash
A 125-milliliter serving of squash provides an average of 40 kilocalories, 1 gram of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0.4 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber.
According to recent studies, squash contains substances that can potentially help prevent age-related diseases. Its orange colour indicates a high content of beta-carotene, a compound that the body can transform into vitamin A.
Squash contains a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, two other antioxidant compounds in the carotenoid family. Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A. Retinol is one of the active forms of vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A has many roles in the body:
- Acts as an antioxidant
- Contributes to the growth of bones and teeth
- Maintains healthy skin
- Protects against infections
- Promotes good vision, especially in the dark
There are also several other vitamins and minerals in squash, including iron, manganese, copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin C and vitamin K.
On that note, you just have to prepare your squash as you like in order to take advantage of all the benefits they have to offer. Enjoy!
Familiprix in collaboration with Hubert Cormier