Winter vegetables to jump start your healthy fall diet

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s still warm out there but it’s technically fall. That means many of your favorite summer fruits and veggies are coming back in their winter varieties.

One of those is squash. You might think of yellow squash or zucchini but winter squash is a common ingredient you’ll love having in the kitchen.

Winter squash comes in slightly darker varieties like pumpkins, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and butternut squash. They’re shaped differently but all have skins and shell that are hard and more challenging to cut and peel so they have a longer storage life.

You can store then for around four months in a cellar or basement. Winter squash can be served as a vegetable or turned into a sweet dessert for all of your upcoming holiday parties.

You can cook it whole in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Take it out, let it cool a little, and cut it in half so you can remove the seeds.

Some easy recipes include scraping the squash out so it looks like spaghetti noodles and replacing your regular pasta with the squash noodles. You can top it with your favorite sauce or with butter and cheese. There are also sweet pies you can make using squash like this mock coconut pie.

So why use winter squash? It comes with high levels of alpha carotene and beta carotene which turns into Vitamin A, plus it’s a good source of Vitamin C and fiber. There are also antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and polysaccharides to help regulate or control blood sugar.

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