BURN bites: harvest salad

Pumpkins here, pumpkins there, pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!  While this gorgeous gourd may be the hot-ticket squash of the season, don't let its overwhelming presence in your local market shy you away from the many other fabulous fall fruits (yes, its a fruit!).

For example, when was the last time you picked up some BUTTERNUT SQUASH? This amazing seasonal squash is readily available this time of year, and packs a serious nutritional punch!

"Low in fat, butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. The folate content adds yet another boost to its heart-healthy reputation and helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects such as spina bifida.

(The) squash's tangerine hue, however, indicates butternut's most noteworthy health perk. The color signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, the gourd boasts very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration, as well as a supporter of healthy lung development in fetuses and newborns. What's more, with only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.

As if this weren't enough, butternut squash may have anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content. Incorporating more of this hearty winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma." -WholeLiving.com

Ready to get you (BUTTERNUT) squash on? Here's a recipe that combines all the flavors of fall and the benefits of this squash in a simple, satisfying, salad.

HARVEST SALAD

What You'll Need:

For the Salad -

4 c. Mixed Baby Greens

2 c. Butternut Squashed, peeled and cubed

1/4 c. Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled

1/4 c. Dried Cranberries, finely chopped

2 tbs. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/2 tbs. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Chili Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Dressing -

2 tbs. Grapeseed Oil

1tbs. Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 tbs. Raw Honey

How to Make It Happen:

To begin, wash, peel and cube the butternut squash into 1 inch pieces (many stores carry pre-cut versions of the squash, but don't worry if your's doesn't! Here is an easy "How To" courtesy of SimplyRecipies.com)

Place cubed squash in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Next, sprinkle with cinnamon and chili powder and toss lightly.  Transfer to a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

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While your squash is cooking, prepare your salad.

Fill a large mixing bowl with four cups of mixed baby green. Add crumbled gorgonzola, pepitas, and finely chopped dried cranberries, but wait to combine.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.

Once the squash if fully cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool (at least 10 minutes).

When you are ready to eat, add the butternut squash to your salad and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Info-

415 calories per serving (serves 2)