Squash has a mild flavor and hard texture when uncooked. Baking squash turns it into a savory, roasted dish with a soft center and a browned, crusty exterior. Baked cubed squash recipes work best with the hard winter squash varieties such as acorn and butternut. Baked squash is flavorful enough to eat as is. Add other healthy ingredients to the dish to change the flavor.
Place the squash on a clean cutting board and slice off the top with a sharp serrated knife. Peel off the skin with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with an ice cream scoop and discard. You may also roast the seeds for a crunchy healthy snack -- they only need a little salt for seasoning. Cut the squash halves into equally sized cubes so that they cook evenly.
Most recipes call for preheating the oven to between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour 1 to 2 tbsp. of olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the cubed pieces of squash to the baking sheet and toss the cubes in the olive oil. The olive oil adds flavor and crispiness to the outside of the squash cubes while keeping the squash from sticking to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and cook the cubes for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until you can easily pierce the squash cubes with a fork.
Squash is savory and flavorful on its own, but adding more ingredients enhances the flavor. Spices such as cinnamon, chili pepper, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper add flavor without adding many more calories. Some recipes call for using brown sugar, maple syrup or honey to coat the squash. Use sweeteners sparingly to keep this dish healthy. Top the squash with heart-healthy nuts such as almonds and pecans.
Squash is fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free. Most squash is high in fiber, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A and C. One half-cup serving of uncooked cubed squash has about 30 to 50 calories with 1 to 2 g of fiber. Adding other ingredients changes the nutritional and calorie content of this dish.
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- University of Nebraska Extension; Nuts for Nutrition; Alice Henneman; March 2004
- "Women's Health"; How to Cook Squash; Matthew G. Kadey, M.S., R.D.
- Epicurious: Spiced Butternut Squash; January 2000
- Fruits and Veggies More Matters: Butternut Squash: Nutrition Selection Storage
- Fruits and Veggies More Matters: Acorn Squash: Nutrition Selection Storage
Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.
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