Delightfully Healthy: Acorn Squash Cranberry Boats

For the Delightfully Healthy Food Demo this week, we have designed acorn squash to be our edible serving dish for our featured ingredients: navel oranges and cranberries. The navel orange season starts in November and continues to May or June and these medium sized oranges are sweet and juicy. With Thanksgiving in mind, we made sure to add cranberries to our recipe for their beautiful color, piquant flavor, and popularity this time of year. Cranberries are harvested in the United States from mid-September to mid-November, which is just a bit longer season than that of the acorn squash, with its sweet orange-yellow flesh and a deep green skin.

When produce adds color to your dish, not only is the meal more appealing, but you can be sure you are receiving plenty of different nutrients. Navel oranges, whole cranberries, and acorn squash all provide high amounts of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant, and contributes to overall health by boosting your immune system, assisting in liver bile formation, and detoxifying the body. They also provide a very good source of fiber. Dietary fiber is an essential nutrient required for proper digestion of foods and proper functioning of the digestive tract, but also helps you feel full. A deficiency of fiber in your diet can lead to constipation, hemorrhoids, and elevated levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. On average, Americans consume only 15 g of fiber per day, whereas recommendations for fiber are 25 g per day for women and 38 g per day for men. When so many fiber-rich foods are absolutely delicious, why not add them to as many meals as possible?

Oranges and whole cranberries also provide phytonutrients, which are found in the peel and inner white pulp of the orange, rather than in its liquid orange center. Phytonutrients promote health with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that cranberries contain 5 categories of phytonutrients that have anti-cancer properties and promote urinary tract health. Acorn squash is also a good source of vitamin A (beta carotene), aiding in healthy vision and skin, as well as potassium for regulating blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and arteries. This edible and delightfully healthy dish is filled with cranberry sauce that will be eye catching in the center of any feast and enjoyed or gobbled up.

Acorn Squash Cranberry Boats

Ingredients

8 oz fresh cranberries
1/2 apple, unpeeled and chopped
1/2 orange, chopped (peel may be left on for
extra flavor but syrup will need to be increased)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp maple syrup, or to taste
1-2 small acorn squashes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup

Preparation

Cranberry sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine cranberries, apple pieces, orange pieces, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add spices. Simmer until cranberries pop. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup to taste.
Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds for roasting.

To Roast Squash:
Brush hollow with olive oil and maple syrup. Bake at 400º for 35-40 minutes, or until fork
tender.

To Microwave Squash:
Place in a glass dish cut side down, prick with a fork, add 1/8 inch water. Microwave for 3-5 minutes.

Divide cranberry sauce between squashes, filling hollows. Continue to heat for 5 minutes in oven or 1 minute in microwave.

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