As runners, we need to be extra mindful that we're packing our meals with a mighty supply of vitamins and minerals. This month's food focus is butternut squash, and the recipes I've chosen are a delicious soup and warming tagine - perfect to make in advance and reheat, with different sides.
Why butternut squash?
Butternut squash may be pesky to cut, but it's a great choice for those interested in weight reduction – as it’s high in dietary fibre, just 45 kcals per 100g, zero saturated fat and cholesterol; it fills you up without filling you out. Rich in poly-phenolic antioxidants and vitamins, a cup of squash contains one-third of your daily vitamin C requirements, and a whopping 214% RDA vitamin A 'our Vision Vitamin' but also a key player in immune function.
As with many orange veggies, butternut squash is a great source of beta-carotene, but interestingly one of the richest sources of the lesser-known carotenoids: beta-cryptoxanthin and alpha carotene. Recent research has shown alpha carotenoids may have significantly better anti-carcinogenesis activity (preventing the spread of cancer cells) than beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin has demonstrated impressive results in preventing the development of both arthritis and lung cancer.
You may not be aware that squash is a good source of runner-friendly anti-inflammatory omega-3s, not quite to the levels of nuts but with a fraction of the calorie and fat content. Hence squash is a great choice for increasing your omega-3s without impacting your total fat intake.
Squash is delicious steamed and takes just seven minutes. You can also roast it or mash it, and it's fantastic in stews. The seeds can be oven-roasted and eaten as a fibre-rich snack which is high in tryptophan, an amino acid associated with improving sleep, mood and controlling appetite. Also a great alternative to spuds (especially if you're partial to smearing them in butter...)
Scroll down and click next to see the recipes.