Carbs can be a wonderful thing. But if you want to tighten up your nutrition plan in your quest for healthy weight loss, endless servings of sweet potatoes and brown rice can be dispiriting. Squash are your seasonal saviour. They’re a nutritious, invariably low-calorie source of energy that will fuel workouts and better health, bulking up meals to banish hunger. Jackson Boxer, chef patron of Vauxhall’s Brunswick House Café, is on hand to help you add a little colour to your cooking.
Courgette: If you’ve ever tried your hand at “courgetti”, you’ll know that courgettes are a trusty, low-calorie carb alternative. Their high water content helps to boost satiety, and they’re packed with muscle-soothing potassium to defeat DOMS.
Butternut: A hefty butternut squash looks like you could sub it in for a kettlebell during home workouts – don’t drop it on your toes. It’s heavy where it really counts, too: the nutrients. One serving boasts nearly half your RDA of vitamin C, feeding your immune system after a tough session.
Pumpkin: These are good for more than just carving faces into before Halloween. Pumpkin rival carrots when it comes to helping you see in the dark. They are rich in carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, both associated with keeping your eyes healthy as you age.
Pattypan: Yellow squash is another useful weapon for your fat-loss arsenal. Not only is it low in carbs, fat and cholesterol, but it’s also packed with beta-carotene, which makes it a veritable antioxidant powerhouse, protecting your health-health in the long-term.
More Than a Peeling
If you want to get the full flavour from your ingredients, it’s well worth looking into how they’re grown. “The quality of the flesh is determined by the quality of the soil,” says Boxer. “Vegetables grown slowly in rich soil will be complex. Those grown for speed and size often taste of little more than water.” Next, Boxer says the key to handling squash in the kitchen is cutting them properly. Inadequately sharp instruments will leave a lot of flesh on the skin, which will go to waste. “A serrated bread knife (£95 victorinox.com) will come in handy,” he says. You can even use an axe when chopping larger varieties. Finally, a courgette masterclass wouldn’t be complete without a spiraliser (£80 ukjuicers.com).
A Squash for All Seasons
Though squash are seasonal fruits, the wide range of varieties means it’s never hard to track them down. “Courgettes arrive from Italy in spring. Then, in summer, there’s an explosion of pattypan. Autumn brings pumpkin and winter butternut,” says Boxer.
Three More Seasons Foods That'll Boost Your Health
Venison: Because it’s usually wild and grass-fed, venison is much leaner than most beer – and as rich in protein and iron as it is in flavour.
Turnips: While they’ve got a bad rep among fancy foodies, the humble turnip is packed with fibre and an alphabet- ticking mix of A, B, C, E and K vitamins.
Apples: It’s easy to overlook the British seasonal stalwart, but apples have been linked to a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
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