Squash is a vegetable we eat often in my household. Some varieties are available year-round, it is usually affordable and easy to cook. The squash category contains a lot of vegetables. In fact there are 100 varieties! But there are 15 that are most commonly eaten. There is winter squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash, kabocha squash, pattypan squash and chayote squash, just to name a few. Most often I cook zucchini or yellow squash to eat at dinner or lunch.
Squash has a lot of health benefits for keeping our gut healthy. Before I get into how good squash is for out gut, how do you know if you have an unhealthy gut? The symptoms are numerous and there are some you may not realize are caused by an unhealthy gut.
If you suffer from gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, lack of energy, moodiness, skin rashes, abdominal pain, anxiety, frequent belching or stomach gurgling, your gut is unhealthy! But you can heal your gut and overcome these embarrassing symptoms by eating healing foods like squash. Not sure where to start? I am here to help!
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Now back to squash and its amazing health benefits to support a healthy gut. After you learn abut the amazing health benefits, I included recipes to try!
#1 CONTAINS PREBIOTICS
Most of us have heard about probiotics but we aren't as knowledgeable about prebiotics. Prebiotics support the growth of probiotics in our gut. So having prebiotics in our routine helps to support the good bacteria in our gut. The good bacteria in our gut fights pathogens and bad bacteria in our body.
#2 HIGH IN FIBER
Squash is a great source of this gut-soothing soluble fiber, which makes it an ideal choice as a gut-supportive food. A great way to start the day is to make a warming mash or puree of winter squash and ginger which is nutrient-packed and contains a lot of soothing soluble fiber.
#3 HIGH IN VITAMIN A
Vitamin A is well known for it's support of healthy vision but did you know vitamin A also supports the immune system of our gut lining? That's right! When we don't have enough vitamin A in our daily routine, our gut becomes inflammed and is unable to protect us from illness and disease. (Source: Clinical Education)
#4 A GOOD SOURCE OF OMEGA 3
When we think about omega-3 we most often think of fish or flaxseeds. But squash contains a good amount of omega-3 per 1 cup serving. There was a study performed in the UK that showed omega-3 intake is strongly associated with diversity and number of species of healthy bacteria in the gut. This is important because specific bacteria have been linked to lower inflammation and lower risk of obesity in people who have a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids. A gut that has a lot of good bacteria and a lot of species is the key to overall good health. (Source: Medical News Today)
With all of these great gut health benefits, squash is a perfect food to eat as a main meal or a side dish. Below is some inspiration.
1) Butternut Kale Torte from Delish
This recipe is so elegant yet flexible. If you want to make it in a casserole dish, that works as well! Full layers of potatoes, butternut squash, kale & cheese makes this dish a perfect Meatless Monday option. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can eliminate the cheese or use a non-dairy option. Serve with a salad.
2) Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa from A Thought For Food
Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa is so filling that any meat eater would not even know this is a vegan dish. Serve with a salad.
3) Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Recipe Runner
This is a great alternative for a low-carb dinner that is filling and flavorful. As Recipe Runner states: you won't even miss the tortilla! If you are dairy free, you can use either a non-dairy cheese or skip it!
4) Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms from Pickled Plum
Spaghetti squash is a perfect substitute for regular pasta. This dish is easy to make and can be served vegetarian like the recipe or add meatballs for a paleo twist. Mushrooms are also a great vegetable for supporting a healthy gut. If you want to read more on that topic, visit my blog post on 8 Reasons Mushrooms Are Amazing And Gut Friendly by clicking here.
5) Summer Squash sandwich with Spicy Sun-dried tomato and Herbed Ricotta from Honestly Yum
While this sandwich is really hearty it can also be paired with either a butternut squash or tomato soup. Can somebody say YUM!!
Squash is so easy to cook in a variety of side-dishes. Roasted, sauteed, fried or baked - squash becomes the perfect accompaniment to any meat, fish or poultry dish. Some of my favorites are below. If you try any of the main or side dishes, let me know what you thought.
Summer Squash & Onions from Spicy Southern Kitchen calls for bacon grease but a healthier option is coconut oil.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Rosemary & Balsamic Vinegar from Kalyns Kitchen is quick, easy and flavorful.
Roasted Acorn Squash from Center Cut Cook doesn't use a lot of spices which lets the true flavor of acorn squash come through.
Zucchini Fries from Health.com are baked not fried and you can use egg whites only to cut down on cholesterol content, if that is a concern for you.
Spaghetti Squash Quinoa Fritters from Julia's Album can be a side dish or a main dish or lunch!
I hope this post inspires you to eat more squash. Full of nutrients that support a healthy gut, eating squash regularly will help reduce the embarrassing symptoms that keep you from living your life. Do you think you will eat more squash? Let me know by leaving a comment below.