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We are in the thick of squash season, and sweet and creamy butternut is an easy favourite. But don’t feel you need limit them to the predictable puréed soup. They can do so much more.

Not only is fall filled with squashy goodness, it’s also the precursor to the holiday season.

As the designated latke-maker of the family (and many of my friends) during Hanukkah, I’m always looking for new combos beyond the classic—and, don’t get me wrong, incredibly delicious—potato pancake. Aside from their stoic role as a side dish made for topping with applesauce, I find latkes, also known as fritters, to be a great grain-free stand-in for a slice of bread.

Disclaimer: these are certainly pancake-like, but they aren’t super fluffy or crispy; otherwise, you would have to add too much starch and negate the purpose of having a moderately low-carb bread substitute. They will be soft and a little squishy, like roasted squash, but should hold up to many toppers.

Butternut squash is so wonderfully sweet that I’ve learned these can be a either a main or dessert option. I generally use them as part of my dinner plate, but if you ditched the thyme, rosemary and garlic and topped everything off with nut butter, cacao nibs and/or maple syrup, you would definitely be in the market for a sweet treat.

A few of my favourite accompaniments include:

  • Tahini
  • Smashed avocado
  • Coconut cream
  • Bolognese
  • Smoked fish
  • Sauerkraut

If you’re not convinced by the sweet and golden taste factor of these fritters, butternut squash also happens to have some incredible health benefits, especially for this time of year. It’s said that mother nature gives us what we need when we need it most, and I could not agree more when it comes to squash at the start of cold and flu season. It has insanely high levels of carotenoids, the plant-based form of Vitamin A, as well as a good amount of Vitamin C. Both of these are antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage.

We should always be including antioxidants in our diet, since we are constantly producing free radicals. Free radicals aren’t entirely bad; our body creates them as byproducts of countless vital functions in our body, like digesting food or removing toxins. We just need to make sure we balance them out with free-radical-fighting antioxidants to keep the molecules within our body stable. (Free radicals are incomplete molecules that steal from other molecules in order to stabilize, which means hurting other cells in our bodies.)

Free radicals damage and age our bodies, leading to inflammation, a greater risk of serious diseases and an overall weakening of the body’s ability to function optimally. Keeping our antioxidants high in times when viruses are floating around and looking for weak immune systems is particularly important. Because Vitamin A is fat-soluble, it is best absorbed when paired with (healthy!) fat, and I’ll take any excuse to eat latkes and call them nutritious. Who’s down?

Butternut squash latkes

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: acorn squash, autoimmune paleo, butternut squash, dairy-free, dinner party, egg-free, fritters, gluten-free, grain-free, latkes, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian, whole 30
Servings: 16 latkes

Ingredients

  • 3- pound butternut squash about 4 cups, grated
  • 2 flax eggs (2 Tb ground flax + 5 Tb water)
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • tsp dried thyme
  • tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • Avocado oil or other stable cooking fat

Instructions

  • Combine the ground flax and water and let it gel for 10 minutes.
  • Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  • Cut each half in half and then peel off the skin.
  • Grate the squash on the medium/coarse side of the grater. If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, I highly recommend it. Alternately, a spiralizer on the smallest setting will work.
  • Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Pour enough oil to thoroughly coat the bottom of a large frying pan over medium heat. Wait until it sizzles when you drop in a bit of the squash mixture.
  • Scoop the batter by ¼ cup cup spoonfuls and flatten gently, shaping into pancakes.
  • Flip once the bottom is browned, about 5 minutes, and cook for 5 minutes more.
  • Serve on its own or paired with tahini, coconut cream, bacon… the possibilities are endless!