Just a cup of this powerhouse squash is chock-full of antioxidants, providing 457 percent of your daily need for vitamin A and half the daily value (DV) for vitamin C. "These antioxidants help protect the immune system, which helps the body fight off diseases," says Stacey Antine, a dietitian and author of Appetite for Life. Butternut squash is also rich in fiber — a single cup has more fiber than a slice of whole wheat bread.
Art Smith, who was Oprah Winfrey's chef for a decade, lost more than 100 pounds a few years ago by eating unprocessed whole foods — including butternut squash. "It has great flavor and texture," he says, and can be easily pureed for soups, roasted whole or grilled. Antine suggests freezing fresh cubes that you can thaw later to keep your immune system in tip-top shape year-round.
Art Smith's Smoked-Paprika Butternut Squash With Forbidden Rice
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup black rice (also called forbidden rice)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 sage leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
1. Heat the oven to 400° F.
2. In a deep saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and onion, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onion is soft. Stir in the rice and 2 cups water, add salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender but still has a little bite, about 40 minutes.
3. While the rice is cooking, toss the squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the paprika, maple syrup and salt to taste. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. The squash should be fork-tender when done. Remove from the oven.
4. When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a serving bowl. Fold in the squash and sage leaves. Garnish with the walnuts and serve immediately.
Nutrients per serving: 309 calories, 5g protein, 45g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 13g fat (2g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 786mg sodium