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I am a huge squash fan, but have always hated the struggle to cook it.  You know the drill — wrestling to cut your squash, scrape out the seeds, and then taking it out of the oven repeatedly only to realize it's still not cooked.  But thanks to Taesha @thenaturalnurturer, I now have a super easy & awesome squash solution: the slow cooker!!  Taesha did a spaghetti squash in hers and I figured — why not other varieties, too?  For this recipe, I used a buttercup squash.  But I have literally been slow cooking my way through every type around!

What is Squash?

Squash is actually classified as a fruit and is in the same family as pumpkin.  It has been cultivated in Mesoamerica for approximately 10,000 years.  There are many different varieties, often subdivided into summer and winter types.  Summer squashes include pattypan and zucchini.  Well-known winter varieties include acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, and Hubbard.  

Why Eat Squash?

Overall, the different squash varieties are incredibly nutrient-dense and packed with vitamins & minerals, including vitamins A & C, potassium, and magnesium.  Many are also rich in fibre and anti-inflammatory, disease-fighting phytonutrients, including the carotenoid antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.  It is believed that squash consumption may help to boost the immune system; improve bone, eye and heart health; and even reduce the risk of diabetes, gallstones, high blood pressure and certain cancers.

Directions for Slow Cooking Winter Squash

  1. Rinse squash and poke the skin all around about a dozen times with a sharp knife.
  2. Place squash in the slow cooker and pour 2 cups of water over it.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.*
  4. Remove squash carefully when done and cut in half.
  5. Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 or 4 days.

*Note: Not all appliances or squash sizes and types cook the same.  A medium buttercup or spaghetti squash takes about 6 hours in my slow cooker.  Adjust cooking time as needed.

C'est tout!  It's really that simple.  Enjoy your squash warm or cold, sweet or savoury.  I love to eat it right out of the skin with a little salt, pepper and coconut butter.  Once the seeds have been removed, you can also fill the cavity with just about anything from quinoa or oats to veggie salads, ground meat, pasta sauce, chili, or even yogurt and nuts.  Alternatively, the flesh can be removed and diced, mashed, or used as a pasta alternative.  See my recipe for "Buttercup Bliss" using nut butter and warm spices.  It makes a great healthy dessert-like breakfast or snack.  And please let me know about your favourite squash creations!