(Photography by the author)

Gourds are more than just Halloween decorations. Gourds are a staple as autumnal centerpieces on dinner tables, but since they are nonperishable, they can be stored and are available until late spring. (And yes, they are technically fruits).

Squash, gourds, and pumpkin zucchini, pattypan squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and pumpkins all members of the enormous plant family called Cucurbitaceae. Typically, the edible plants under this family are referred to as squash, and the ornamental (inedible and generally un-tasty) plants are referred to as gourds. Some heirloom varieties date back to the early 1800s.

Some varieties are more suitable for pie baking, others roasted as a side dish or made into a soup. 

With a tough skin, most squashes can be tricky to cut but are well worth the extra effort in flavor! Use a sharp, sturdy knife to cut acorn squash along one of the valleys in between the ridges on the skin. Making this first cut will take a little extra strength and force than most squash. Re-position your knife and use that initial cut as your entry point for slicing all the way through.

Last year, my goal was to integrate more healthy food into my diet. While exploring less expensive food varieties, I added gourds and squashes to my family’s weekly diet. I was in for a big and tasty surprise.

They are inexpensive and very nutritious

The orange color means it is good for your immunity since it contains a large amount of beta-carotene (vitamin A), with a single serving providing more than the daily requirement for adults. Vitamin A is essential for proper organ function and optimal vision. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, zinc, iron, and a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. One cup contains about 25 percent (7 grams) of the daily value of fiber.  A majority of Americans eat only 15 grams a day, even though the daily recommended intake of fiber from food is 25 to 30 grams. Squashes also control blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of foods and preventing your blood sugar from rapidly spiking

There are many ways to skin a squash

Squashes can be roasted, baked, puréed, or sautéed. You can also mash or steam them and add them to soups, stews, and chili, or stuff squashes with whole grains or legumes for a nutrient- and protein-packed vegetarian meal option. Since they are difficult to peel, some are cooked with the skin in a soup or a curry. They will keep you savoring the tastes of winter. 

Green Kabocha squashes are a Japanese variety. The skin is deep green with yellow specks, and the flesh is a golden orange. They are probably my favorite variety with a sweet and savory taste similar to that of a sweet potato. I like roasting them as a side or pureeing them into a soup. Lumina (white) is wonderful for decorative painting (very smooth skin), carving, and baking. The flavor and texture are excellent! The orange elongated is the most commonly known Butternut Squash. Red Kuri squash, also called orange Hokkaido pumpkin, has smooth flesh and a rich, sweet flavor that shines through in pies, soups, and side dishes. It is difficult to peel, so they are almost always cooked with their skin on.

(Photography by the author)

Butternut squash has richly sweet, nutty flesh favored for all kinds of fall and winter cookery. Simply cut in half and bake in the oven until soft. Test by piercing with a long fork. They are excellent drizzled with maple syrup before or after cooking.

(Photography by the author)

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash

Magda Born
Butternut squash has richly sweet, nutty flesh favored for all kinds of fall and winter cookery. Simply cut in half and bake in the oven until soft. Test by piercing with a long fork. They are excellent drizzled with maple syrup before or after cooking.


  • 1 Large butternut squash  (peeled, deseeded and cut into medium-size cubes)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Honey or maple syrup
  • As a spice alternative one can add cinnamon and nutmeg


  • Drizzle the honey (or Maple syrup) over and place in the oven.
  • Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, turning the cubes intermittently, until soft, sticky and just starting to caramelize
  • It could be enjoyed as a side dish or further added to a soup or a curry.     Enjoy!




Library Resources:

The Pumpkin Cookbook: 139 Recipes Celebrating the Versatility of Pumpkin and Other Winter Squash by DeeDee Stovel

Format:  Book

Squash by Julia Rutland

Format:  Hoopla ebook

Cooking with Winter Squash & Pumpkins by Mary Anna Dusablon

Format: Hoopla ebook


True Comfort: More than 100 Cozy Recipes Free of Gluten and Refined Sugar by Kristin Cavallari

Format:  Book


Information contained here is not intended to treat or cure any diseases or provide a medical advice.

Magda Born

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103