Posted at: 10/02/2012 11:11 AM

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Season of Squash

Another sure sign of fall is squash, a vegetable with so many health benefits. Jen Haugen, Registered Dietitian at Austin Hy-Vee, will showcase popular varieties and how to use them.
Nutritional Powerhouse
Winter squash provides a wealth of nutrients.  Learn which nutrients are prevalent in squash and why they are so important to your health.

Pick the Perfect Squash
Don’t let the appearance on the outside scare you away from squash!  Jen will show you how to pick the right one for your recipe.

Basic Preparation
Squash can be prepared in so many ways. Jen will share a few techniques.

Chicken & Wild Rice-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 6
Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Magazine Fall 2012

All you need:
3 acorn squash, halved and seeded
½ cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup uncooked, cubed chicken breast
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped yellow onion
¼ cup chopped orange bell pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1-1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 (6 ounce) box Hy-Vee Long Grain and Wild Rice (seasoning mix included)
½ cup Hy-Vee panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted

All you do:
1.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place acorn squash halves cut-side-down on rimmed baking sheet.  Pour ½ cup water into pan.  Bake squash halves for 30 minutes or until fork-tender.
2.    Meanwhile, for filling, heat 1 tablespoon butter and the olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, salt and black pepper.  Brown chicken.  Stir in celery, onion, bell pepper and mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in broth, water, rice and rice seasoning packet.  Cook, stirring frequently, 10-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
3.    In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 1 tbsp. melted butter.  Fill each squash half with about ½ cup filling.  Top with 1 heaping tbsp.. crumb mixture.  Bake for 25 minutes more.

Acorn Squash – Sweet and nutty flavor.  Dress up with brown sugar and cinnamon or garlic butter.  Serve with other root vegetables.  Simply cut in half, scoop out the seeds and roast.  Each half makes a single serving.

Buttercup – Slightly sweeter than butternut.  Trim the ends and cut in half lengthwise.  Use in soups, muffins or pies.    Substitute for sweet potatoes!

Butternut – Sweet and nutty similar to sweet potatoes; the bolder the orange color, the sweeter the flavor.  Excellent cooked in slow-cooker; delicious addition to soups and stews.

Spaghetti – Named for its stringy inside texture; cooks up like spaghetti noodles.  The larger and more yellow ones will be extra tasty.