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Our Blog: October 9, 2023

Serve Butternut Squash Three Ways

This month, we want to introduce you and your family to BUTTERNUT SQUASH!   

This versatile fall veggie is delicious and nutritious. It’s a great source of fiber and potassium. It also provides a source of vitamin A (beta-carotene) and vitamin C which work together to support the immune system. In children, vitamin A aids in essential eyesight development too.

Butternut squash has a mild nutty flavor with a natural sweetness making it great in both sweet and savory recipes. Offering early veggie variety is key to raising an adventurous, healthy eater. We hope you’ll join the Veggies Early & Often effort at home to help inspire your child to embrace vegetables rather than turn away. Be a role model by cooking and eating a balanced, plant-forward diet.

Butternut squash can be purchased in the fresh produce section of the grocery store. Look for hard, deep colored rinds that are no longer green and free of blemishes and mold. Look for the stem to be attached, especially if you want to store it longer. For a higher fee, some stores may also offer butternut squash already peeled, diced, and ready for use. You can also purchase butternut squash in the freezer section to save time and money by skipping prep time for a lower cost.

Try one of our delicious Grow Fit-inspired recipes at home to share butternut squash with your family. We’re sharing three ways to use it and each one is packed with great flavors!

Twice Baked Butternut Squash, Serves 4

Grab these things:

1 medium butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil

Let’s get cooking:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. For young assistants: Have child remove the seeds and discard.
  3. Place butternut squash halves in a baking dish cut side up.
  4. Drizzle with olive or avocado oil.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until fork tender.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool until you can safely handle it.
  7. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out most of the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Leave a border of about ¼ inch in each side. Try not to break the outer skin/shell.
  8. For young assistants: Have child add Greek yogurt and half the parmesan cheese to the bowl. Use a fork to mash and mix thoroughly until it’s smooth and creamy.
  9. Spoon this mixture back into the shells. 
  10. For young assistants: Have child sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese on top.
  11. Return backing dish to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. 
  12. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes to give the top a golden-brown finish.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, Serves 6

 Grab these things:

 16 oz. frozen butternut squash, diced
1 ½ cups fresh tomatoes, diced
½ yellow onion
2 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. dried thyme
⅓ cup water

  1. Let’s get cooking:
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Slice the yellow onion.
  4. For young assistants: Have child place the frozen butternut squash, tomatoes, and onions on the baking sheet.
  5. Drizzle with olive or avocado oil and sprinkle with pepper and thyme.
  6. For young assistants: Have child mix well to cover the vegetables evenly with oil and seasonings.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Carefully transfer the cooked veggies to a food processor. Add water and blend until smooth.
  9. Toss sauce with your favorite pasta or store in fridge immediately for future use.  

Butternut Squash Steaks with Garlic Butter, Serves 4

 Grab these things:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 sprigs fresh oregano
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Let’s get cooking:

  1. Begin by making the butternut squash steaks:
    - Trim the top and bottom off the squash, then peel it.
    - Slice into 4 pieces lengthwise, about ½-inch thick each.
    - Trim the outer two rounded sides (so it will lie flat in the pan).
  2. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  3. Cook the butternut squash steaks, turning every 3 minutes until deeply browned on both sides and fork tender. This takes approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Add butter, oregano, and garlic to the skillet. Tilt the pan toward you so the butter pools to one side and use a spoon to baste the steaks with the sauce. Cook until the butter is no longer bubbling and begins to brown (about 1 minute).
  5. Remove from heat and drizzle with lemon juice before serving.

These recipes are veggie-forward and approved on 9/7/23 by the Partnership for a Healthier America to meet the Veggies Early & Often guidelines.   

About the Author

Nicole Spain, MS, RDN

Childhood nutrition has been Nicole’s passion for more than 20 years. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition and Dietetics from Northern Illinois University. During her career with Learning Care Group (LCG), Nicole has assisted with developing and implementing the company’s proprietary Grow Fit program. Through her curated menus, the healthy lifestyle initiative positively impacts approximately 100,000 children daily in LCG’s 1,050+ schools. She aided in the rollout of the Veggies Early & Often campaign in 2021 and helped LCG be recognized as the 2017 Partner of the Year by the Partnership for a Healthier America. Since 2004, she’s also been an active Junior League member and developed the Kids in the Kitchen program for their Detroit and Milwaukee chapters. Nicole and her husband, John, have three children. In her spare time, Nicole competes on a rowing team with the Detroit Boat Club Crew.