03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Seasonal foods for weight loss

The best weight loss programs educate you about various factors that effect what you see on the scale. Seasonal foods should be one of those factors.

That's why from time to time you will receive ideas about what you can do with seasonal foods to keep your diet interesting. But the emphasis here is on "what is in season." Fall is here and hard-shell squash season has just begun.

Today, I highlight the butternut squash. Butternut squash is high in carotenoids lutein and zanxanthin, which are useful for preventing degenerative macular disease. And, it's high in vitamins A and E as well. One cup of butternut squash has only 82 calories.

But what to do with this knobby gourd?

Below, find three ideas to use the squash and make it tasteful without hours of preparation time:

Butternut Squash Chicken Ginger Curry Stew

1 small butternut squash
1/2 chicken breast
1 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp of ground ginger (fresh if possible)
1 pinch of sea salt
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Wash the squash. Cut in half and clean out the seeds. Chop into large pieces of equal size. Do the same thing with the chicken. Pour 2 tsp of oil into a glass dish. Add the squash and chicken. Sprinkle with the curry powder, ginger and sea salt and mix well. Place dish in the oven for 40 min at 400 degrees F.. Don't forget to stir from time to time. Enjoy.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium size onion
1 tsp sea salt

Chop the onion into small quarters and sauté till golden in olive oil. Clean, peel and remove seeds from the squash before cutting into smaller chunks. Add the squash to the onions and cover with stock. Cook for about 20 minutes till the squash is soft. Puree in batches with a blender. Pour back into pot and gently re-heat. Add nutmeg to your liking and if you like, 1 cup heavy cream. Serve with some toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

Spinach Squash Salad

1 small butternut squash
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 cups washed spinach
2 tsp olive oil
1 pinch of sea salt

Clean the squash and cut into medium sized pieces and place in a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the squash till soft, about 40 minutes. Add the dried cranberries, stirring in during the last five minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. In a large bowl, mix the spinach with the cranberry butternut squash. Sprinkle in walnuts and season with olive oil and sea salt, tossing well.. This is a great way to eat leftover butternut squash as well.

If you have any other ideas about what to do with butternut squash, leave a comment below for others to try out.

Stay focused.


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