Ingredient 911: Butternut Squash
I always know that summer is over when I walk into my grocery store and see the abundance of winter squash varieties. Butternut squash, with it's lovely orange-colored flesh and sweet flavor, has always been a favorite of mine. Not only is this pear-shaped squash delicious and versatile, but it happens to be really good for you too.
Butternut squash is low in calories and packed with nutrients. One cup of cubed squash only has 82 calories and no fat or cholesterol. It's a rich source of fiber which besides promoting good GI health also helps lower blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar. It also keeps you feeling fuller longer which makes it a great food for weight loss programs. Butternut squash is high in several nutrients such as Vitamins A, B-complex and C as well as potassium and magnesium to name a few. The rich orange color means it's packed in beta carotene which gets converted to Vitamin A in the body. One cup of cubed squash has 457% of the recommended daily allowance! Vitamin A is important for vision, immune health, growth and reproduction.
Butternut squash is very versatile- it can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It's most commonly steamed or roasted but can also be added to stir fries and stews or pureed and incorporated into risotto, pasta or everyone's favorite- butternut squash soup. Even the seeds are edible and when roasted, they make a nutritious snack.
Try this hearty and nutritious chili recipe that's perfect for the fall. The sweet butternut squash works well with the smoky heat of the chipotle chilis. By incorporating healthy vegetables and black beans in this dish, only a small amount of ground beef (1/2 pound for 6 servings) is added. This cuts down on the calories and fat and no one will even miss it! This dish can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the ground beef and adding an extra can of beans.
Almost Meatless Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili
Makes 6 servings
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic clove, chopped
½ lb. extra lean ground beef (93% lean)
Salt and pepper
1 tsp chipotles in adobo, seeded and chopped*
1 tsp adobo sauce (from the can of chipotles)
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp allspice
1 medium butternut squash peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 can (28 oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup fat free and low sodium beef or chicken broth (or water if vegetarian)
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or wide-based pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook 6-7 minutes until partially softened. Add the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Stir in the ground beef and brown it, breaking it into pieces as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the chipotles, adobo sauce, cumin, oregano, and allspice. Add the butternut squash, tomatoes, and broth (or water). Season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook 20 minutes then uncover and stir in the beans. Cook, partially covered, another 15-20 minutes until chili is thickened and squash is cooked through. Stir in the cilantro.
Serve chili alone or with brown rice. Top with reduced fat sour cream if desired. Garnish with cilantro.
* If you've never used chipotles in adobo before, go out and buy a can. They are canned, smoked jalapeño peppers and add a delicious smoky heat to dishes. I use them in just about everything from chili to soup, burgers, marinades, salad dressings, and pasta.