As summer fades into fall, apples and squash are not only healthful but plentiful. Cooked together, their rich flavors and compatible textures blend well for a vegetable purée side dish.
Apples have long been touted for their healthful properties, and there’s now scientific proof that the assumptions are true. One study shows that apples are the most concentrated food source of flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals, natural substances that have been found to protect against cancer and heart disease, and may block the ability of certain viruses to grow and spread.
Much of the flavonoids’ protection against cancer and heart disease seems related to their antioxidant power. Health experts say that if people eat five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, flavonoid consumption can reach a healthy range.
Squash, too, is full of healthful properties. Winter squash, like acorn, Hubbard and butternut, is more concentrated in several nutrients than summer squash. Its dark color is a hint that winter squash is an outstanding source of carotenoids, a family of antioxidants believed to enhance immunity and heart health as well as play an anticancer role. Winter squash is also a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, riboflavin and dietary fiber.
Choose squash that are heavy for their size and have a hard, deep-colored rind that is free of blemishes or moldy spots.
This simple combination of squash and apples makes a good side dish for poultry. Puréed vegetables have become trendy in up-scale restaurants, but they’re easy to reproduce with the home kitchen blender.
Squash and Apple Purée
– Makes 8 servings.
- 3 lbs. winter squash (such as acorn, butternut or Hubbard)
- 3 large baking apples (Rome Beauty, York Imperial or Granny Smith)
- 2 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy portions. Place in a large baking pan cut side down and bake until soft, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size.
About 30 minutes before you expect squash to be done, poke a few holes in the apples. Add to the baking pan. When squash and apples are tender but not mushy, remove from oven.
Cut apples in half to aid in cooling.
Scoop squash out of their shell, or pull off peel. Remove peels, seeds and cores of apples. Place squash and apple in a blender. Add parsley and pepper. Purée.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread purée in a baking dish lightly sprayed with oil. Sprinkle wheat germ evenly over the top. Bake 20 minutes, or until bubbling softly.
Per serving: 155 calories, 1 g. total fat (4 g. saturated fat), 37 g. carbohydrate, 4 g. protein, 9 g. dietary fiber, 347 mg. sodium.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at www.aicr.org or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday – Friday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $82 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.