With the ever-growing awareness that plant fiber is not only good for adding bulk to our diets, but also add a crucial component necessary for the health of our body’s micro biome (aka our immune system’s soul) I’ve been spending some time this winter working in more winter squash because it offers both amazing flavor and loads of fiber, too.

Like many households, I know it's not easy to get everyone to eat it, especially if there are fussy eaters, so I suggest doing what smart cooks often do: Sneak it in, and one of easiest winter wonders to sneak in is butternut squash.

Native to North America, butternut squash is richly concentrated with not only fiber, but also many nutrients like vitamin A and C, zinc, protein, folate, potassium, and other health-promoting compounds. With its flesh dressed in a glowing shade of orange, its attractive color is eye-appealing, both literally and figuratively, because the compounds that cause this highlighting hue, lutein and zeaxanthin, also work directly in the retina of our eyes to prevent oxidative stress, and macular degeneration, while the beta-carotene and alpha-carotene convert to retinol, helping many body systems including the eyes, hair, skin and lungs.

Beta-carotene also harnesses the potential to block the harmful effects of UV radiation as well, making it very beneficial for anyone who has long exposure to the sun, and wants protection from sun-related aging, such as wrinkles and blemishes.

Offering us a nutty, buttery, oh-so-soft texture and flavor, butternut squash seeds are edible-just like a pumpkin-too.

When selecting, be sure to look for squash that has a matte-not glossy-skin because shiny means it was picked too early. Also look for one that is heavy, and has a hard, smooth rind free from blemishes.

Able to be stored for long periods without refrigeration, the longer a butternut is allowed to ripen, the more intense its orange color and sweetness will be.

Pairing well with many flavors-cinnamon, maple syrup, walnuts, pecans, balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika–butternut squash can also make for a great ingredient that you can add to things you wouldn’t normally do, like biscuits. In fact, I recommend trying pureed butternut squash in place of pureed pumpkin in one of your own favorite recipes, especially if you like buttery surprises.

Here now are some bright, beautiful, and beneficial ways to get buttered up-ENJOY.

Sweet Butternut Squash Biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1 Pinch unrefined sea salt

2 tablespoons butter, cold

1/2 cup butternut squash puree (roasted and pureed)

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Using a wire cheese slicer or similar, cut butter into slivers and sprinkle over flour mixture then, using a fork or pastry blender, blend butter into mixture until it is well distributed and creates a coarse meal. Add squash puree and blend in just as you blended in butter. Mixture will be a bit lumpy. Sprinkle with milk and then, using a rubber spatula, fold wet into dry gently to create a wet, loose dough.

Divide dough into greased muffin tins, filling each well 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Approximate servings per recipe: 6.

Flavorful Butternut Fries

1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1-inch sticks

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare squash by peeling, seeding and then slicing into one-inch sticks. In a bowl, toss all ingredients together then spread out on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Shake pan to loosen fries and toss slightly then return to oven to bake for an additional 7-10 minutes or until crispy. Remove and serve immediately.

Approximate servings per recipe: 4.


Butternut Mash

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash

1 tablespoon avocado oil

3 ounces goat cheese

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

Unrefined sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash, seed, and peel squash then cut into small cubes. In a medium mixing bowl, combine squash with oil, salt, and pepper, tossing to coat, and then spread out onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is golden, and easily pierced with a fork. Returning to mixing bowl, combine cooked squash with milk, cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary and, using a potato masher or immersion blender,

Approximate servings per recipe: 4.