Shopping and eating seasonally is an easy way to consume the most nutritious fruits and vegetables, increase variety in your diet, and save money. When food is in season, it’s at peak time, meaning it’s the freshest and most nutritious at this time. This time of year is also when there is the most of that specific crop, so it’s usually is cheaper than other foods that aren’t in season. If you are eating seasonally, you will be consuming different foods depending on the time of the year, which can help increase variety in your diet.
Seasonality of produce is going to be slightly different depending on where you live and the season. Currently, zucchini, mushrooms, pumpkins and winter squash are readily available in our area. This month, our featured vegetable is winter squash due to its versatility in dishes and healthful benefits.
If you visit the local Farmer’s Markets, you’ll see there are MANY different types of
squash. These include acorn, butternut, delicata, spaghetti, buttercup, carnival, hubbard, and pumpkin, just to name a few. Although the winter squashes are going to have different shapes, sizes, and colors, they will all have a harder shell. This helps them have a longer storage life. You’ll want to look for squash with this firm shell that’s free from cracks. Storing squash in a cool, dry area will allow it to be kept for up to three months. Each variety will provide health benefits which may help reduce the risk of many diseases, such as diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, and cancer.
Squash is cholesterol free, low in fat and sodium. They also contain vital nutrients including fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Personally, I think all squash are absolutely delicious. However, if you find one that isn’t your favorite, I encourage you to try another. They’re all unique in taste and texture, so there’s likely to be at least one you love!
There are a lot of great ways to use squash. You can add them to soups, use them as a noodle substitute, add them to your tacos or stir-fries, or even stuff them. Winter squash can be boiled, baked or steamed. Usually cutting them in half, removing the seeds and baking them is the easiest way to prepare them. The seeds from the squash can be saved and roasted for a great snack! Just spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 160-170°F for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Here’s a fajita recipe from SweetPeasAndSaffron that can be made ahead of time and frozen, or consumed right away! It’s packed with flavor and, of course, squash.
Make Ahead Chickpea Butternut Squash Fajitas
45 minutes Total Prep Time
4 cups butternut squash cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 19 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 red onion sliced into 1/2-inch strips
2 bell peppers sliced
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1.5 teaspoon cumin
1.5 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1 lime
8-12 six-inch tortillas
OPTIONAL for Serving:
To Freeze: Combine all ingredients (minus the optional ones) in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
Shake until everything is evenly combined.Freeze for up to 1 month.
To Bake: Thaw completely before baking. Heat oven to 425°F. Spread all fajita ingredients out evenly on a large baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping everything halfway through. Serve on a tortilla and add whichever toppings you’d prefer!