Butternut squash is one of the most versatile vegetables. It keeps for months and can be used in sweet or savory dishes. Technically a fruit, a one cup cooked serving (205g) of this squash contains 82 calories, 90% of which come from carbs, 8% from protein, and 25% from fat.

Why is butternut squash considered a Superfood? It has a lot of powerful antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and minerals, and it’s high in non-digestible fiber, which is beneficial for the microbes in your gut. Antioxidants help prevent or slow cellular damage and reduce inflammation, which may reduce your risk of several chronic diseases.

This low-calorie, fiber-rich winter squash may help you lose weight and protect against conditions like cancer, heart disease, and mental decline. With 490mg of potassium in a serving, butternut provides more than the 425mg in a banana.

Butternut can be cut in half, put on a cookie sheet and baked for 1 hour if you would like it to have a puree consistency for soups, bread, muffins or to just eat as a side dish. Another way to prepare it is to peel the outside skin, cut the squash in cubes which can be used in multiple recipes. The following is one of my favorites.

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta later. Dice a medium onion and cook in a little olive oil until translucent. If you want to have meat in your meal add your favorite sausage and cook, stirring frequently until the meat is cooked through. Take out of the pan and set aside. Peel and cube a whole butternut squash, sauté in the same pan with olive oil, salt and pepper for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the squash cooked through but not mushy—it needs to hold it’s shape. Add the onion-sausage mix to the butternut in the pan and a jar of your favorite tomato sauce. Basil and oregano are two spices I would add at this point. If I don’t have fresh, I prefer freeze dried. Heat slowly for 5-10 minutes, just so the flavors will mix and combine. Put your favorite pasta in the water you have boiling and cook until al dente, and drain. Put the pasta in an oven-safe pan, add a little olive oil and salt, pour the sausage, onion, squash sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan and or mozzarella if you want the dish to be really cheesy. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes to melt the cheese and serve.

Nancy Fay McCloud lives in Mountainair where she owns the B Street Market, maintains a flock of Navajo Churro sheep, 60 chickens, two horses, four dogs, one cat, one parrot, and a large market garden at Happy Bee Farm. Reach her by email at bstreetmarket@gmail.com.