Once October hits, it’s nearly impossible to enter a grocery store or farmer’s market without confronting a cornucopia of squash in every shade of orange, yellow and green.
That beautiful sight can make you immediately want to wrap yourself in flannel, wool and your favourite scarf, and surround yourself with autumn spices and warm smells of pumpkin and the like. This recipe has been on repeat in my home and it’s SO easy.
Acorn squash, or any winter squash, is the perfect starch to add to your meal. While it’s technically high in carbohydrates, you burn it very slowly, giving you sustained levels of energy and fullness. It contains high levels of a type of fibre called pectin, which slows the release of sugar from our food into our digestive tract when we eat it. This means you don’t get the blood sugar spike associated with quick-burning refined sugars and grains that causes you to crave more food. Along with managing blood sugar, fibre-rich foods can help to regulate high cholesterol for heart-protective benefits.
This recipe combines acorn squash with two of my favourite things: cinnamon (I love this one) and coconut oil. Both work to further stabilize blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, these ingredients have antimicrobial properties to ward off those nasty viruses that come out of the woodwork once the weather cools down. They also add a natural sweetness to the squash without any sugar. Yum!
A few other wonderful things about winter squash:
- It’s jam-packed with Vitamin A (that’s why it’s so orange), Vitamin C, and other antioxidants, which fight inflammation and give your immune system a boost during cold and flu season. It’s like mother nature knows we need it right now; cool, huh?
- It’s indigenous to North and Central America, so it’s local, in season and doesn’t need to travel far to get to your plate. Sustainability for the win!
- The high Vitamin C levels promote collagen production, which will keep your skin glowing in winter and your digestive tract healthy and strong.
- Women: it’s rich in Vitamin B6, which is severely depleted by the birth control pill, even after you stop taking it; low levels cause PMS, depression, anemia, morning sickness and more.
- Men: it’s been found to protect prostate health and reduce symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
This recipe is perfect for a crowd (I recently tripled it and fed it to 20 people) and uses just five ingredients. It would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving feast! Acorn squash is inexpensive, filling and beautiful, so it’s a great candidate for a meal prep dish that you can eat all week or bring to a dinner party. I highly recommend buying organic, since you eat the skin in this recipe and it shouldn’t break the bank to do so, given the low cost of squash.
Bonus: You get leftover seeds, which you can enjoy using my recipe for the best roasted pumpkin seeds (or any squash seeds) ever! This is part of the reason I get so excited about buying squash; it’s a totally different experience than the pepitas you buy at the store and the perfect nutrient-dense snack.
Spiced acorn squash
- Preheat the oven to 350F convection or 400F conventional. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Using a large cutting board and sharp chef’s knife, slice off the top of the squash.
- Lay the squash on the cut side, so it’s stable, and cut it down the middle, following the lines on the squash.
- Scoop out the seeds and reserve for roasting.
- Slice each half into ½-inch wedges.
- In a large bowl, toss the squash with the melted coconut oil, salt and spices.
- Lay out the squash in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes.
- Flip and bake 10 minutes more, or until slightly golden and easily pierced with a fork.