“In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.” —Cynthia Rylant

November is truly a glorious time to prepare a delicious life! The bounty of the harvest provides conscious cooks with so many naturally nutritious November ingredients including dark green, leafy kale, snow white cauliflower, crunchy red apples, sweet succulent pears, abundant stalks of Brussels sprouts, gleaming orange pumpkins, and creamy tan butternut squash.

Butternut squash is a tremendously popular cool weather crop. A large fruit with a thick upper neck blossoming into a rotund, pear shaped base, butternut squash is instantly recognizable. When purchasing, look for smooth, tan-skinned fruits free of blemishes, with a solid feeling of weight. The stem should be firmly attached. Whole squash should be stored in a cool, dark place where it will keep for several weeks, unlike cut squash, which should be placed in the refrigerator and used up within several days.

Nearly every recipe calling for pumpkin can be interchanged with butternut squash, and a combination of the two yields perfectly pleasant results. Roasted cubes, seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg are a sensational addition to sturdy salad greens, dressed with a pomegranate-balsamic glaze.

Or combine those same cubes with a substantial grain such as farro or barley and tart cranberries for a spectacular November side dish. Butternut squash dip enlivened with roasted garlic and sprightly chile pepper makes for an invigorating hors d’oeuvre. A luxuriously silky bisque can be created by melding roasted squash or pumpkin puree with roasted pears, plenty of caramelized onions, freshly grated ginger, pumpkin pie spice and chicken or vegetable broth. Any pasta preparation, whether it be ravioli, risotto, lasagna or manicotti will benefit from the brilliantly colored flesh of squash or pumpkin and their intense vitamin content.

Butternut squash is rich in Vitamin A, even more so than pumpkin. A powerful anti-oxidant, vitamin A provides optimal skin protection and rejuvenation, as well as boosting eye health, and may help protect the body from certain types of cancer. Very low in calories, butternut squash has no saturated fat or cholesterol and is a superb source of dietary fiber.

As with pumpkin, butternut squash is full of minerals including iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. The seeds from both fruits can be roasted and seasoned for an exceptionally tasty snack,that will also provide dietary fiber and plenty of protein.

Enjoy all the magnificent flavors of November as you prepare your delicious life!

Spicy Butternut Squash Dip

Makes approximately 4 cups

1 two-pound butternut squash

1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered

4 whole garlic cloves (peel left on)

4 teaspoons olive or grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper or smoked paprika

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place whole squash on baking sheet, poke with a knife in several places. Place onion quarters and garlic cloves on baking sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive or grapeseed oil.

Bake for 45-60 minutes until squash is tender. (Check periodically, if the garlic or onion is brown and tender before squash is done, remove them from pan and reserve.) Remove squash from oven when quite tender and let cool. Cut open when cool and scoop out seeds and membrane. Then scoop out flesh and place in a food processor. Squeeze garlic into food processor and add onion quarters. Add remaining oil, sour cream or Greek yogurt, ground chipotle or smoked paprika, and pumpkin pie spice. Process until quite smooth. Taste, season with salt and pepper, add more of the spices if desired.

Serve with sweet potato chips, pretzels, pita chips or crostini.

 

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing, fresh, natural ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.