Grammy’s Roasted Maple Acorn Squash

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 in Blood Sugar Balance, Breakfast, Digestion, Entrees, Essential Fats, Just. Eat. Real. Food., Recipes, Vegetables & Sides

Grammy’s Roasted Maple Acorn Squash

Ahhh, Fall is coming . . . .

Crisp mornings, warm days, and cool nights. Leaves turning brilliant colors, the rain coming back to Oregon’s landscape, and WINTER SQUASH reappearing at the market!

One of my favorite childhood dinners Mom used to cook was acorn squash baked with spicy sausage, butter and maple syrup. We gobbled them up! And, as I recently found out, this is a recipe passed down from my maternal grandmother. Talk about nourishing traditions!

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash Nutritional Facts 

  • With its bright yellow-orange flesh, acorn squash is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory because of its Vitamin C (over 30% of the RDA) and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene reduces free-radicals in the body and is thought to reduce the risks of colon and lung cancer (even in smokers) as well as heart disease. Other powerful phytochemicals in the carotenes of acorn squash are beta-cryptoxanthin (which reduces lung cancer and arthritis risk), lycopene (thought to play a role in reducing cancers and heart disease) and lutein (decreases the risk for age related macular degeneration).
  • One serving (one cup) of cooked acorn squash provides up to 145% of the RDA of Vitamin A. Vitamin A strengthens immunity, improves night vision, maintains healthy bones and teeth, helps prevent urinary stones, and prevents skin damage from oxidative stressors.
  • Acorn squash is also good source of potassium, manganese, thiamin, Vitamin B6, magnesium folate, and iron.
  • A serving of this squash also provides 5% of the RDA of healthy Omega-3 fats.
  • Winter squashes have a low glycemic load and are a great source of fiber for digestive health. A whole cup of cooked acorn squash is about 30g of carbohydrates with 9 grams of fiber.
  • There are 2 grams of protein in a cup of this squash.

As you can see, eating acorn squash gives you naturally healthy carbs with lots of fiber, healthy fats, and a bit of vegetable protein — making it a more desirable choice than a potato, pasta, or a processed side dish. 

My preferred way to cook winter squash is roasting as it causes the squash’s natural sugars to caramelize and brings out it’s yumminess!

The USDA Pesticides data found the residue from 28 pesticides on conventionally grown squash. These pesticides are absorbed up through the roots into the flesh of the squash.After harvesting, conventional winter squash is coated with an oily wax that is not edible. Organic squash is the best choice but non-organic is acceptable if you don’t eat the skin.

Recipe: Grammy’s Roasted Maple Acorn Squash

Summary: I’ve cleaned this up from how my mom had cooked it. She usually used –gasp!– chopped up Slim Jim sausage sticks instead of crumbled cooked sausage. Hopefully they were better quality way back when than what is available today! (The Slim Jim website lists the nutritional facts but not the ingredients.) And we’ll swap out heart-clogging margarine for healthy butter (or coconut oil, coconut butter/cream, or ghee if you prefer).

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash
  • coconut oil for greasing pan
  • 1-2 tsp butter (or coconut oil, coconut butter/cream, or ghee)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of crumbled cooked sausage (pork, turkey, chicken; I prefer spicy italian) optional
  • 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup (or honey)
  • Optional sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the acorn squash in half from stem to base. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds.
  3. Rub coconut oil on the surface of a cookie sheet or baking dish to help the squash from sticking. A oven safe dish with sides can help the halves stay upright when you flip them over to fill them later. Roast squash halves cut side down in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and flip the squash halves over. Lightly sprinkle salt over each half.
  5. Add 1/2 to 1 tsp (or more!) of butter in the well of each half. Add 1/8 – 1/4 cup of sausage to each. Drizzle maple syrup over the sausage. Sprinkle cinnamon and/or nutmeg over the top if you wish.
  6. Return pan to oven to cook an additional 20-30 minutes until fork tender. (Poke flesh from the cut edge on top to check tenderness; poking through the skin can cause your butter and syrup to leak out.)
  7. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

Best to eat with a spoon so you can get all the goodness out of the shell. I omit the sausage if serving this as a side dish with, say, pork chops, or add more sausage and other goodies (see variations) if it’s the meal.

Variations

For crunch, I often add chopped walnuts or pecans, and dried cranberries are a great addition –a tartness to the spicy sausage and sweet syrup. If you are cooking the sausage as your squash begins baking, add chopped onion, garlic, a diced apple or pear, and some chopped kale to sauté with the sausage. This will build the dish into a meal.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time:  50-60 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 2

You can stuff a acorn squash with anything!

I’ve had spicy South American soup served in an acorn squash “bowl” similar to how you would see soup served in a bread bowl. You could try this Southwest Stuffed Acorn Squash or this Moroccan Style Stuffed Acorn Squash. This recipe for Acorn Squash with Apples was a hit last at Christmas dinner along with a pork roast.

Acorn squash can be tasty for breakfast, too! Roast an extra squash at dinner for 5 Ingredient Breakfast Stuffed Acorn Squash from PaleOMG. For those of us who are living the Paleo lifestyle or eating gluten- and grain-free, you might be missing your oatmeal or other hot cereal. Try Almost Oatmeal from Healthy 918 Living or Acorn Squash Porridge from Paleo Table.

For a change in flavors this fall, I’m looking forward to trying Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette and Roasted Balsamic Acorn Squash using the Fig Balsamic I got in California last month!

What’s your favorite ingredients to stuff in an acorn squash?