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The Power of Pumpkin: Cook up delicious sides with this heart-healthy superfood

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Article and Photos by Hilary Schwab

Hello! I am Hilary Schwab, a professional photographer who created the Edible Garden Girl blog to illustrate my love of gardening and cooking. My goal is to share my world with you — and hopefully teach you something new:

This project is dedicated to my dad’s memory, Ed Schwab, who in 1978 bought a parcel of land in Stanardsville, VA, and started the vineyard and winery named Autumn Hill. His love of wine, food, and nature has always inspired me.

Check out my new TV Show on The Edible Garden Girl I am excited to collaborate here with Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher of BeInkandescent Health & Wellness magazine, who has long been a supporter of my work. Watch regular episodes of my cooking demonstrations on her YouTube channel that will also feature tips on making your garden grow — and flourish.

Stars of the Month: Pumpkins and Squash

Did you know: Your body uses beta-carotene and converts it to vitamin A, which is important for eye health. Vitamin A helps your retina process and absorb light. Just one cup of pumpkin provides you with more than 200% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A. You can even use pumpkin as a face mask that both soothes and exfoliates. Butternut Squash is a good fiber source and is packed with vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium.

Gardening tip: This hard squash with a long neck and short bulb on end grows on a vine on the ground — and is easy to grow from seeds.

  • Plant 4-5 seeds in a small circle in full sun after the last frost in the spring (usually the second week of May).
  • It usually takes about 50 days to the first harvest.
  • I plant my squash in my flower beds in my front yard, where the good morning sun is perfect for growing veggies. The vines wander around the beds, and the flowers attract pollinators to the plants.
  • You will know when the squash is ready to be harvested when the skin turns from a green color to a smooth cream color.
  • Let the fruit live on the vine for a week or so after this so the vegetable can cure or sweeten. It is a hard squash when ripe; if it is soft, then it is rotten—the harvested squash stores well in a cool, dry place for a few months.
  • Each vine can produce many fruits, and the plants will keep coming until the first frost in the fall.

How to Make Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash (see how to make it below)
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces (or your favorite nuts — unless, of course, you are allergic!)
  • 1/2 + 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. black pepper

Here’s how: Makes two servings

  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
  2. Peel and seed a fresh butternut squash and cut into 1-inch chunks, put into a mixing bowl.
  3. Toss with 1/2 T olive oil, and spread pieces onto a baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes; loosen and turn squash pieces, then return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
  5. Return to the clean mixing bowl and let the squash cool for about an hour in the refrigerator.
  6. Prepare: In a large salad bowl or your favorite serving dish, place a layer of arugula on the bottom. Top with squash and crumbles of cheese, then toss in the nuts. Drizzle olive oil over the top and add salt and pepper to taste.

Hungry for more? 

Here’s to your health! — Hilary