Winter squash is one of my favorite foods year-round, but it’s most satisfying as the weather gets cold.

ImagePumpkin pie, butternut squash soup, and acorn squash hash are some of my preferred dishes, but when I’m lazy I like to just cut squash into chunks, scoop out the center, put some butter in the hollow, toss the seeds in some olive oil and bake it all at 350 for 45 minutes (you’ll want to take the seeds out earlier).

The sweet flavor and soft texture make this is one of the tastiest and healthiest snacks you could eat, and kids will love it too!

In Chinese medicine, yellow is the color associated with the phase-element Earth and sweet flavors. Earth is the phase that corresponds with the organ-systems Stomach and Spleen, and just as in Western physiology, the Stomach is related to digestion. In Chinese medicine it is called the Sea of Grain and Water, and the Spleen (unlike the Western anatomical spleen,) is in charge of transforming and transporting what is brought in through the Stomach to nourish the rest of the body. Thus, the Earth phase-element is vital in terms of metabolism and assimilation, and eating yellow foods such as winter squash will benefit digestion.

This understanding corresponds well with what we know from Western physiology and nutrition.

Yellow fruits and vegetables, along with many dark greens and a few others, are rich in vitamin A, which is essential for proper protein metabolism. Vitamin A also helps your body build and maintain healthy barriers like skin and mucous membranes. This means that it makes sure you keep what needs to be inside your body in, and what needs to stay outside, like viruses and bacteria, out. When intruders do get in, though, it also helps fight them off by buffering your immune system.

Vitamin A has lots of other benefits as well.

Acting as the custodian in your body, Vitamin A makes sure everything is running smoothly. This includes fertility, vision maintenance -especially night vision, helping your bones, teeth, and muscles stay strong, and it keeps you looking young by making sure your hair and skin don’t dry out.

In Chinese medicine eating too much of the sweet flavor can lead to dampness, so don’t overdo it, but just the right amount will ensure your flesh is healthy and full of vitality Winter squash is the perfect sweet touch to eat a few times a week, especially as the seasons change and the Earth element should be emphasized. Moreover, certain carotenoids, which are what make winter squash so beautifully yellow, are actually a pre-curser to Vitamin A and have been shown to prevent cancer in numerous studies.

So next time you’re at the market make sure you pick up some hearty yellow-orange squash, your body and taste-buds will thank you for it!

 

What’s your favorite winter squash recipe?

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