Oh, how I LOVE autumn! Because with autumn comes so many delicious and amazing varieties of squash! It’s so much fun going into Whole Foods and seeing the shelves covered with the brightly coloured squashes so when I saw this Blue Ballet Squash sticking out amongst the red, orange and yellow varieties, I knew I had to have it!
I mean, look at how gorgeous this Blue Ballet Squash is! I nearly didn’t cut it up and was thinking about having it for decoration. My four kids even thought it was the coolest looking vegetable they’d ever seen.
I don’t think we all actually realise what a power house of a food squash really is. I mean, look at its size – these guys are big players in the game of well-being. They’re like the big linebackers on an American football team. Plus, they simply are delicious!
Although winter squash has long been recognized as an important food source of carotenoids, only recently have research studies documented just how fantastic winter squash can be when it comes to these key antioxidants. For some groups of study participants, winter squash turns out to be the primary food source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in the entire diet! For lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin (three other health-supportive carotenoids) winter squash also comes out among the top three food sources in several studies.
And don’t forget about the SEEDS! Seeds from winter squash make a great snack food, just like pumpkin seeds. If you scoop the pulp and seeds from inside the squash and separate out the seeds, you can place them 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.
So this lovely, quick and easy recipe serves four. Here’s what you’ll need:
1 large ballet blue squash (or another type of round winter squash will do just fine!)
A large bunch of Swiss chard
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup black rice
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup brown lentils
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 180C and cut the squash into four boats. Remove the seeds and save them for later! You’ll want to roast them for a delicious snack! Place the squash into the oven and let them back for app. 20-25 minutes or until the flesh is beautifully bright orange and soft!
Bring two and a 1/2 cups of water to the boil, add the black rice and reduce to simmer until all the water is absorbed. Rinse then let it cool. Next, melt the coconut oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. This is a great way to really fragrant the lentils. Allow the mustard seeds to start popping to release their flavour and then add the lentils and just enough water to cover 1cm above the lentils. Again, bring the bowl and then let simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Then, mix the cooked lentils in with the black rice.
Coarsely chop the Swiss chard and steam for seven minutes or boil for two minutes. Again, add to the black rice/lentil bowl along with the cranberries and toasted pine nuts. Season with sea salt and black pepper and scoop a large dollop onto each of the boats so that they are overflowing with goodness! And voila, you have the most gorgeous looking, delicious tasting, nutrient dense meal for a cold autumn night!