Considering throwing out yesterday's leftover zucchini and squash? Before you toss anything, nosh on this: A single cup of cooked zucchini contains 32 mg of calcium, 475 mg of potassium, 2,011 IU of vitamin A and over 23 mg of vitamin C. A comparable amount of winter squash, such as acorn squash, contains nearly three times as much calcium, approximately twice the potassium, and similar amounts of vitamin C. Both types make a healthy addition to any meal for your family, so before you write them off as unusable, try to incorporate them into your family dinner.
Add raw summer squash to salads for a vitamin and mineral boost. Zucchini and crookneck squashes don't have a lot of flavor on their own, and some kids may not like them. However, they are highly absorbent and will easily take on flavors around them. Chop up your squash into cubes and marinade it overnight in creamy salad dressing, juice or any other flavorful liquid before tossing it into a chef's salad with plenty of protein and other vegetables. By varying your marinade, you can add summer squash to your salads for days on end without boring your family with the same old flavors every night. For children who do love the delicate flavor of raw zucchini and squash, cut them into spears and serve as a side dish with a bowl of creamy dip.
Winter squash contains approximately 5.7 grams of dietary fiber per cup. That makes it feel filling to your family, keeping them satisfied longer. Winter squashes bake well, either whole or cut into cubes for faster cooking times. As with summer squashes, winter squashes absorb the flavors around them well. Instead of marinating overnight, use a similar selection of liquids to flavor your squash, but simply toss the squash cubes in the liquid or brush it on the cut sides of a halved squash, and then place in the oven on a tray with potatoes and cubed meats for a hearty winter meal. Alternately, open a packet of dry dip mix and sprinkle it over the cut squash surface, or toss cubes and meats with it. The great thing about baked squash mixes like this is you can boil the leftovers down into a soup and present your kids with a new, but just as filling, meal the next day.
Use squash in place of pasta or potatoes in any of your favorite recipes. Squash has a high water content, so you may need to cut down on other liquids. Use sliced summer squash in place of the noodles in lasagna or try baking a spaghetti squash as a noodle replacement for your favorite pasta dish. Butternut squash works well in place of potatoes or yams and can often be prepared exactly the same way, including mashed, scalloped or cut into strips and baked as "french fries." If your kids aren't keen on the idea of using butternut squash in place of potatoes for french fries, pair it with a flavorful dip to make it more alluring.
Serving and Storing
Save the shells of winter squash, and use them as serving bowls to dress up your table after you've scooped out the insides when baking in halves. Kids will appreciate the change of pace and the colorful shells. Chop and freeze excess summer squash for winter stir-fry meals. It will get soggy and lose water but still cooks up quickly and absorbs flavors well when lightly stir-fried with other veggies and meats. Dress up leftover winter squash by rolling it in egg roll wrappers with cooked ground meat and baking the wrapped rolls. Serve them as finger food with a variety of dips as either appetizers or a main course.
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