It is that time of the year when the grocery aisles are filled with all different varieties of squash. Tall, short, round, long…you name, there’s a squash that fits the profile. This week on vegitales, we are featuring the Sweet Dumpling Squash. No, this is not an Asian inspired dish (although it does sound like it would be delicious), this is a variety of winter squash. As a member of the cucurbitaceae family, relative of the cucumber and melon, it grows on a relatively short vine and matures to be approximately 4-5 inches in diameter. It has a thick cream-colored outer coating with green stripes and resembles the shape of a mini pumpkin. Due to its thick shell, sweet dumpling squash has a very long storage life, approximately three months (in its whole form). So, if you’re really keen, buy a few while they’re available from September to mid December and use them for decoration until you’re ready to eat them. They make great holiday-party centerpieces!

Squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years. Modern day squash developed from wild varieties that grew between Guatemala and Mexico. It was first cultivated for its seeds as the flesh was unpalatable. As squash cultivation spread throughout America, different varieties were produced with a sweeter tasting flesh. Now, we have a diverse assortment of squashes that can be enjoyed for both its seeds and flesh. According to WHfoods, the largest commercial producers of squash today include Turkey, Italy, China, Japan, Romania, Egypt and Argentina.

The beauty of sweet dumpling squash does not only lie in its aesthetic appearance, but also in its robust nutritional profile. It is rich in vitamin A, C, K, B2, B6, potassium, folate, manganese and fiber. It is a great source of antioxidants (specifically alpha-carotene and beta-carotene), which help to boost immunity – especially great for this time of year – and reduce free radicals that can damage cells. Additionally, sweet dumpling squash contains a small amount omega 3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Enjoy this fall favorite mashed, roasted or pureed into soups. It’s sweet orange flesh is full of flavor and doesn’t require much seasoning. To prepare, first clean the squash under water and then slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds (you can roast these later) and lay it cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until tender. Prepare as desired. It’s really nice to enjoy sweet dumpling squash with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. This way, you really get to taste the natural flavors of the squash!

Shelby Kroach
Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Shelby Kroach is a registered holistic nutritionist and food enthusiast. She currently practices in Thornhill at Dr. Green's Health and Wellness. Some of the areas that Shelby focuses on in her clinic are weight loss, inflammation, digestion and athletic performance. Shelby strongly believes that what you put in your body affects how you feel both inside and out. That is why she works with clients to create individualized nutrition programs that are attainable and results oriented. Outside of the clinic, Shelby runs corporate wellness programs as well as healthy eating seminars to groups and organizations. She also has a food and nutrition blog called The Simple Dish where she posts recipes, nutrition tips, product reviews and restaurant reviews weekly.

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