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Now's the time to enjoy some winter squash

When it comes to foods that are nutritious as well as delicious, it's hard to beat winter squash.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, winter squash are chock-full of carotenoids, which have been linked to a lower risk for cancer. Winter squash also contain:

When it comes to foods that are nutritious as well as delicious, it's hard to beat winter squash.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, winter squash are chock-full of carotenoids, which have been linked to a lower risk for cancer. Winter squash also contain: 

• Vitamins C, A, B and K

• Potassium

• Folate

• Fiber

Despite their name, winter squash are actually harvested in late summer or early fall. They come in many shapes and sizes and include such varieties as acorn, butternut, turban, delicata, spaghetti and pumpkin.

When selecting winter squash, look for ones that are heavy for their size. That indicates more flesh inside for eating. The rind should be firm with no soft spots, and it shouldn't be glossy.

Choose squash that still has part of the stem attached. A missing stem may signal that there's mold inside.

How to prepare winter squash

There are a lot of great squash recipes available online. Here are some easy ideas for enjoying these special vegetables:

• Cut and peel squash like butternut and delicata into cubes and add to stir-fries, casseroles, stews, soups and pasta.

• Baking squash brings out its natural sweetness. Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and strings. Place the squash cut-side down in a foil-lined baking pan. Pour 1/4 inch of water into the pan, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until tender. Scoop the flesh from the rind to use in recipes.

• Stuff and bake squash halves with fruits and vegetables like apples, onions, raisins, spinach or kale. Add spices and sweeteners like cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, honey, brown sugar or maple syrup.

Additional source: Produce for Better Health Foundation

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.