It’s almost February, which means that eating healthy and seasonal foods becomes a bit more difficult.  Winter time isn’t the most fruitful of seasons – but don’t fret!  There are still locally-grown veggies and fruits in Vermont that you can find at your co-op or farmer’s market.  Apples, beets, cabbages, carrots, potatoes, onions, winter squashes, and turnips are all still available.

Winter squashes may be unmarked territory to some but they are surly a delicious treat.  Butternut squash is one of the most popular choices for its great taste, high nutritional value, and easy storage over winter time.  This squash contains many anti-oxidents and large amounts of vitamin A (over three times the recommended daily allowance!), folates, riboflaven, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.  Butternut squash is one of the top dietary choices for alpha and beta carotene. It does not contain any cholesterol or saturated fats and is very high in fiber and phyto-nutrients.  Additionally, it is rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, copper, potassium, and phosphorous.  Squash in general are very low in calories and are great for maintaining a healthy weight.

Butternut Squash is also anti-inflammatory, may help regulate blood-sugar levels, and prevent cardiovascular disease!

Have I convinced you to begin eating more squash, yet?  Awesome!  Here is a great recipe that kids will love to eat and help make.

PEANUT BUTTER SQUASH BROWNIES

Ingredients:

1 Egg (or egg replacer) 1 cup Peanut Butter 1/2 cup Honey 1/2 cup Butternut Squash Puree** 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda *Be sure to save your squash seeds as they are also super healthy and filled with protein!  Try roasting them.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 square pan for later.

2. Beat the eggs, peanut butter, and honey together until smooth. Then add the squash and baking soda until well mixed.

3. Pour into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.  You can stick a toothpick into the center to check to see if the brownies are ready.  If the toothpick comes out clean, then they are ready to go!

** To make fresh puree, simply cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the cut-side down in a roasting pan and pour in a little water. Bake at 350 degrees until tender.  Let the squash cool, then cut off the skin and puree in a food processor or mash yourself.

ECO-FRIENDLY ALERT!

Try buying your winter squash organic if possible! Recent agricultural studies displayed that winter squash is a successful crop for use in remediation of polluted soils.  PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are dangerous and unwanted contaminants found in soil.  However, winter squash plants have been used effectively to pull PAHs out of the soil!  Even if winter squash is not planted as an intermediary plant (between other food crops for purposes of increasing soil health), the benefits still remain in squash’s ability to turn polluted soil into safe soil.  Buying organic winter squash will help to reduce and reverse affects of contaminants in the ground.