Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet

I am officially up to my ears in butternut squash.

Lately when I've collected my CSA I've been stocking up on these gems. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture; check out www.millerfarms.net if you missed hearing me brag about it in previous posts.

Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

I'm able to store butternut squash for several months before they go bad, and because we just can't keep up with the quantity of produce we get with our CSA (great problem to have, right?), I've chosen to store a few of these so we have fresh produce in the dead of winter.

Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet, Nacho-Style (but it  is  my style! haha, food puns…)

Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet, Nacho-Style (but it is my style! haha, food puns…)

Lucky for me, when we ran out of zucchini and peppers yesterday I could pull one of the butternuts and make a quick, yummy dish. For the non-meat-eater, this Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet is a great vegetarian source of protein.

In a world obsessed with protein, I sometimes feel that I stand alone in not fretting about it. Here's why: your body doesn't store extra protein. It uses what it needs for repairing cells and building muscle (which only happens if you're also exercising - just eating more protein won't do anything for muscle strength or tone), then breaks down the rest as energy (i.e. calories, similar to fat or carbs).

Let's back up.

Food is made of three major (macro)nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Your body uses each of these nutrients for a specific purpose. A tragedy (well, that's melodramatic, but you get the idea) of our culture is mixing up the intended purpose of each.

Carbohydrates: Fuel for Brain & Muscles

Carbs are your body's main energy source. Your muscles and your brain run on - and prefer to use - calories from carbs. That's right; our bodies are built to run on carbs.

Carbs come from starches and sweets. Not all are created equal - some are really good for you (fruits, legumes, starchy veggies, and whole grains that contain lots of fiber) and some are just empty calories (the sugar in the Salted Caramel Mocha that I'm drinking this morning).

Recipe - Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Protein: Building Blocks for the Body

Proteins are the building blocks for your body. They make up many different components of cells (like ribosomes), DNA, muscles, enzymes, hormones, and more. Protein is pretty important, but you really don't need all that much of it - about 10-20% of your daily calories should come from protein.

Recipe - Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Animal sources of protein (like meat, milk, or eggs) are complete sources of protein - meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. Vegetarian sources of protein don't contain all of the essential amino acids (except soy, which does), so you need to eat complimentary proteins to get all of them. Grains compliment legumes, so pairing a grain in a meal with a legume will give you all nine of the essential amino acids. Here are a few examples of common complimentary proteins:

  • Peanut butter on bread

  • Beans and rice

  • Lentils and naan

  • Corn and black beans

Fat: component, Transporter, Storer, protector, Etc.

Ah, fat. It's one of America's least favorite nutrients (although lately carbs have really been demonized), but it's one of my personal favorites. Fat has a whole slew of functions in the body: a structural component of cells, transporter of nutrients, storage form of energy, protection and warmth.

Let's be clear: too much fat isn't a good thing. But we do need fat to live! Just like carbs, there are healthy fats (mono- and -polyunsaturated from avocados, nuts, olive oil, etc.) and unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats from butter, lard, bacon, fatty meats, and partially hydrogenated oils).

Recipe - Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

From now through the end of the year, I'll be highlighting each of these macronutrients in an effort to help you better understand what your food is made of, how your body uses it, and how much of each that it needs.

For today, please join me in tasting this delicious fall Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet dish.

Recipe - Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Start by preparing an onion: trim top and base off onion, then peel tough outer layers (usually top 1—2 layers). Slice in half lengthwise and lay the onion with the cut (flat) side face down. Slice the onion into thin wedges, about 1/4-inch thick.

In a large, deep skillet heat two tablespoons canola oil until shimmering over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté at medium-low temperature, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking while preparing butternut squash.

Prepare a medium-sized butternut squash: peel squash using a vegetable peeler (can microwave for a few minutes to soften squash slightly). Cut bell of squash from the neck, then cut bell in half. Remove seeds by scraping inside of squash firmly with a spoon. Cut squash into evenly sized 1/4-inch cubes. Add butternut squash cubes to skillet, turn heat up to medium-high, and cook 15-20 minutes until butternut is soft enough to insert a fork.

Recipe - Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

To the butternut squash add two cans of black beans (or about three cups), one can diced tomatoes (about two medium tomatoes from the garden), two cups frozen corn, on teaspoon salt, one teaspoon cumin, one tablespoon fresh cilantro, and one tablespoon chili powder. Add remaining ingredients and seasonings to skillet. Cook over medium-high heat another 8-10 minutes until heated through, stirring just enough to mix well.

Serve plain, in tortillas, or over tortilla chips. Additional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, or salsa.

Enjoy!

Recipe - Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 large white or yellow onion

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2-3 lbs)

  • 1 tsp. salt, divided

  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans black beans, or about 3 cups

  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, or 2 medium tomatoes diced

  • 2. frozen corn

  • 1 tsp. cumin

  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro

  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare onion: trim top and base off onion, then peel tough outer layers (usually top 1—2 layers). Slice in half lengthwise and lay the onion with the cut (flat) side face down. Slice the onion into thin wedges, about 1/4-inch thick.

  2. In a large, deep skillet heat canola oil until shimmering over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté at medium-low temperature, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking while preparing butternut squash.

  3. Prepare butternut squash: peel squash using a vegetable peeler (can microwave for a few minutes to soften squash slightly). Cut bell of squash from the neck, then cut bell in half. Remove seeds by scraping inside of squash firmly with a spoon. Cut squash into evenly sized 1/4-inch cubes.

  4. Add butternut squash cubes to skillet, turn heat up to medium-high, and cook 15-20 minutes until butternut is soft enough to insert a fork.

  5. Add remaining ingredients and seasonings to skillet. Cook over medium-high heat another 8-10 minutes until heated through, stirring just enough to mix well.

  6. Serve plain, in tortillas, or over tortilla chips. Additional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, or salsa

 Prep time: 20-30 min // Cook time: 20-30 min // Total time: 40-60 min - Serves 6 - Serving Size: 1.5 cups - Nutrients per serving:  373calories -- 7g total fat -- 1g saturated fat -- 0g trans fat -- 0mg cholesterol -- 432mg sodium -- 68g total carbohydrates -- 18g fiber -- 10g sugar -- 17g protein -- www.peasandhoppiness.com

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