Winter squash refers to a variety of squashes popular in the late fall and early winter, such as butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squash. All varieties provide carbohydrates, fuel your preschooler needs to grow and play. They also have fiber and potassium—two nutrients many preschoolers may not get enough of each day. Orange- and yellow-colored squash offers preschoolers vitamin A from beta-carotene, too. Don’t be intimidated by a squash's thick, tough skin. It is more than worth the effort to use these vegetables in your cooking. Some grocery stores even sell peeled, fresh squash for added convenience.
How your preschooler can help
Spark your preschooler's interest in vegetables by letting her examine the different kinds of squash in the produce section. Discuss the interesting colors and textures of each variety. When selecting a squash, pick one that feels heavier than you expected—your preschooler can help you choose.
Once home, encourage her to draw pictures of all the different kinds of squash she saw—see how many she can remember. Let her look inside when you cut the squash open so she can see how different the inside looks from the outside!
Easy ways to use winter squash each week
Spaghetti squash is a fun and nutritious substitute for noodles. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Bake on a cookie sheet until tender, then use a fork to scrape out the "spaghetti" (stringy squash) and serve.
Acorn and butternut squashes can be peeled, diced, and baked or microwaved for a mildly-sweet side dish delicious with a touch of brown sugar and butter. The cooked diced squash can also be layered in lasagna, stirred into rice, served over pasta, or added to macaroni and cheese. The kid-friendly taste and texture may be a hit at your house!
Try these recipes from meals.com for your whole family: