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Tips for Preparing Winter Squash

Rinse winter squash under cold running water before cutting.

All varieties of winter squash require peeling for steaming except Kabocha and butternut squash. You can peel winter squash with a potato peeler or knife.

Butternut squash has a unique shape that requires a special approach to cutting. To cut into cubes, it is best to first cut it in half between the neck and bulb. This makes peeling it much easier. Cut bulb in half and scoop out seeds. Slice into 1-inch slices and make 1-inch cuts across slices for 1-inch cubes. This is the best size and shape for steaming.

If you are baking your squash you don't have to peel it. Cut the ends off, cut the squash in half lengthwise down the middle, scoop out the seeds and bake. Alternatively you can leave the squash whole, pierce a few times with a fork or tip of a paring knife, bake and scoop out the seeds after it has been cooked. You can peel cooked squash easily with a knife and then cut into pieces of desired size.

Save those seeds that you scooped out! Seeds from winter squash can make a great snack food, and can be prepared in the same way as pumpkin seeds. Once scooped out from inside the squash and separated from the pulp, you can place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170°F (about 75°C) in the oven for 15-20 minutes. By roasting them for a relatively short time at a low temperature you can help minimize damage to their healthy oils. Linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fatty acid that is plentiful in olive oil) account for about 75% of the fat found in the seeds.

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