Health Benefits of Squash
I love squash. I used to say I could live off of zucchini if I had to pick one food for the rest of my life. I don’t know it that’s what I would pick anymore, but I still love a variety of squash.
Butternut squash is up there as one of my favorites because it’s sweet, nutty and creamy! It’s one of the more starchy carbs so I do recommend including fat and protein when eating it, such as in this soup with bacon, coconut milk, and bone broth.
Beta Carotene vs. Vitamin A
As for nutrition, butternut squash packs a pretty good punch. The orange color is indicative of the beta carotene content of the squash, which also gives sweet potatoes and carrots their tell-tale color. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A which is retinol. Because we convert beta carotene to retinol in our body, many nutrition labels list veggies like butternut squash as having a high amount of vitamin A, but technically they don’t. Retinol, true vitamin A, is only found in animal foods. Our ability to convert beta carotene to vitamin A in our bodies is pretty individual, based on lots of factors, and is likely influenced by our genetics to an extent, and even our gut health. So keep on eating these beta carotene rich foods by all means, just remember to also eat animal foods to ensure adequate vitamin A status.
Butternut squash is also a great source of water, vitamin c, potassium, and magnesium. For those of you who don’t love to drink your water, butternut squash has a pretty high water content and can help you reach that daily intake quota for hydration. Potassium and magnesium are electrolytes which help maintain the water content needed throughout various parts of the body. Magnesium is a mineral that’s commonly depleted in times of stress, so adding extra sources of magnesium when life is tough is not a bad idea.
For my pregnant mamas out there, electrolyte needs do increase in pregnancy. Blood volume increases and you’re adding amniotic fluid so making sure you’re getting adequate electrolyte intake can help with pregnancy symptoms like swelling.
While breastfeeding, water and hydration can be key to producing adequate milk supply. Butternut squash alone is high in water content and healthy, starchy carbs, which make it great nourishment in the postpartum phase as well. Basically, butternut squash and this soup recipe is nourishing no matter what stage you’re in, whether that’s nourishing your fertility, your growing baby, or replenishing nutrients postpartum.
Ingredients: Serves 4
1 butternut squash~ about 2 lbs or 1.5 lbs cooked
1/2 yellow onion
2 tsp avocado oil or olive oil
4 slices heritage bred, sugar free bacon
2 tsp reserved bacon fat
3 cups chicken bone broth, thawed (my favorite store bought kind is Bonafide Provisions in the freezer section of Walmart and other stores)
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 tsp Redmond Real Garlic Salt (or alternatively garlic powder and salt)
1 tsp Redmond Real Onion Salt (or alternatively onion powder)
1/4 tsp black pepper (optional; omit for AIP)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using unbleached parchment paper, line a baking sheet.
- Cut butternut squash carefully lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place on baking sheet.
- Place half of onion on baking sheet.
- Spray/sprinkle vegetables on baking sheet with avocado oil and place in oven.
- Roast for 30 minutes and check on onions as they tend to be done sooner. Remove when roasted and before they burn or get too brown.
- Bake/Roast butternut squash for additional 30-60 minutes or until soft when poking the thickest part with a fork. If you cut it first into bite-sized or smaller pieces, it will take a shorter time to become soft.
- While veggies are in oven, cook bacon in smaller lined baking sheet in oven for 10-15 minutes or until desired crispiness. Reserve the fat that remains on the bottom of the pan and some of it will be used later.
- Remove veggies from oven and let cool.
- Place veggies in blender and add 3 cups bone broth and 1 cup coconut milk or enough to help it blend well.
- If using a plastic blender, I like to let the veggies cool first, sometimes overnight in the fridge, so I’m not using hot liquid in my plastic blender and encouraging the plastic components to leach into my delicious food.
- Place large stockpot on stove. Add 2 tsp bacon fat to bottom of pan. Turn medium-low heat on pot.
- Pour blended mixture into the large stockpot. Add remaining bone broth, if any and stir until well blended.
- Add garlic and onion salt, tasting as you go to get the flavor you like.
- Leave on stove covered to heat through.
- When heated through, ladle into bowls and garnish with crumbled bacon.
Enjoy! Store in fridge for up to 3 days.
This is also a great meal to prep ahead and have in postpartum, especially if you’ll be in your 4th trimester during fall, winter, or early spring. You can freeze in freezable glass mason jars, making sure to leave space at the top for the expanding liquid so the glass doesn’t break while frozen. Eat within 3 months if frozen.