Potatoes and winter squash are excellent staple foods for our Meats & Sweets dietary approach, especially during the cooler months when (seasonal) fruit is less plentiful.
Potatoes and winter squash are easy to prepare in a myriad of ways ~ whether roasted, baked, mashed, steamed, or added to roasts or stews, such as this tasty, potassium-rich, low-sodium Beef And Squash Soup/Stew.
Spaghetti squash can be used in lieu of pasta noodles, and served tossed with extra virgin olive oil or butter, crushed garlic, and fresh parsley, or with a meat sauce.
Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Kabocha, Honeynut & Potato Squashes
Winter squashes like butternut or honeynut squash are excellent pureed into a soup; pumpkin, kabocha, or sweet dumpling squashes are a nice savory & sweet side dish, and/or prepared as desserts, such as Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars and Healthy Squash Pie. We sometimes enjoy Breakfast Pumpkin or Squash Soufflé with leftover cooked squash.
Potatoes and winter squash have several health benefits in common, which I've outlined below.
The primary reason we love both potatoes and winter squash ~ nutritionally speaking ~ are because both are an excellent source of potassium, which protects against the damaging effects of dietary salt and high-sodium diets.
Despite being demonized among low-carb dietary circles, potatoes are actually the vegetable of choice in America. Unfortunately, most people consume potatoes fried or loaded with a lot of additional sodium and fat ~ think cheese, bacon bits, salted butter, sour cream ~ negating the many health benefits of the potassium-rich spud.
While we have also consumed very low-carb diets in the past, these days, there's no hesitation when it comes to enjoying both potatoes and winter squash ~ especially during the fall and winter.
Technically, winter squash is a gourd, or berry ~ classified botanically as a fruit. Culinarily speaking, it's considered a vegetable like potatoes.
Potatoes and winter squashes are also often referred to as higher-starch vegetables, compared to a lower-starch vegetables such as broccoli, cabbages, and leafy greens.
Some of the benefits of both potatoes and winter squash include:
Read more about the importance of getting at least 3-6 times as much potassium as sodium in my article, Salt And Health.
Potatoes can be baked whole, or roasted.
Perfect Baked Potato: For a fluffy tender baked russet potato, clean skins. Pierce a few times all around with a knife or fork. Place on a baking tray, ideally one with slits which can fit on top of a regular baking pan, like you would find in a toaster over. Many online recipes suggest rubbing with a little olive oil (easy to use a pastry brush) and baking at 400º. I've had better luck baking at a lower heat for a little longer. Bake until tender. (Use a hot pad and give a squeeze. They should be soft, not firm.)
Winter squash can be cut in half. Scoop out seeds. Bake upside down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at 350º until the skin is soft when pressing. About 40 minutes, maybe more depending on the size of your squash.
Acorn Squash: When nearly done baking, turn over, and add a little butter and optional teaspoon of brown sugar and pepper; or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Delicata Squash: Bake sliced or cut in half, flesh side down as above. When nearly done baking, turn flesh side up. These really are sweet as they are, but can be jazzed up with a drizzle of orange juice concentrate (or orange juice) combined with honey and a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper.
Kabocha or Buttercup Squash: These are so good, we enjoy them plain!
Butternut Squash: Peel and cut into 2 inch chunks, and roast with apple. Add a tiny bit of apple cider to baking dish, and bake covered at 350º as above. Or, cook butternut squash with apple in a pot with a couple inches of water. Season with sweet curry powder or ginger. Puree when soft, adding a little half and half, whole milk or cream as desired.
Roasted Potato Medleys
Combine different potato varieties for a nice blend of textures and flavors. Sweet potatoes (or try purple potatoes) roasted with russets, and/or Yukon gold or red skin potatoes can be tossed with XVOO, pepper, and rosemary, then roasted covered at 350º for about 1 hour.
Covering potatoes while roasting helps them stay soft and moist. If you like them crispier, roast uncovered for the last 15 minutes.
Combine potatoes with other vegetables and seasonings for variety:
Healthy Potato Chips: Thin slice russets and onion and toss with XVOO, pepper, onion powder, and a bit of smoked paprika &/or cumin for a healthy alternative to potato chips.
Or cut into wedges for baked fries.