A Healthy Holiday Side: Maple Cashew Carnival Squash

This recipe comes together really fast and then you can relax while it’s in the oven or get busy preparing the other parts of your meal! This squash dish is so yummy your kids won’t know they are eating something good for them.

So are you eating a vegetable or a fruit when you eat squash? Well, botanically, squash is a fruit. Fruits contain seeds and develop from the flowers of a plant. On the other hand, vegetables are a plant’s root, stems or leaves.

All types of squash have seeds and come from the flowering part of plants. In fact, edible flowers even grow out of squash and are known as squash blossoms! Therefore, squash is considered a fruit. And the most amazing part – the entire squash plant is edible, including the flesh, skin, leaves, flower and seeds

Carnival squash is small to medium in size, averaging 12-17 centimeters in diameter, and is round and squat with deeply furrowed ridges and a rough, light brown stem. The thick skin has a cream-colored base with variegated spots and striped hues of white, orange, yellow, and green, depending on its level of maturity. The flesh is firm, dry, coarse, and pale orange in color with a large and fibrous seed cavity with stringy pulp and many flat, beige seeds. When cooked, Carnival squash is soft and tender with a fragrant aroma and is slightly nutty, buttery, and sweet with nuances of maple syrup, similar to butternut squash. Carnival squash contains potassium, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids.

Did you know that Maple Valley maple syrup is a superfood sweetener packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals? Now you do!

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic carnival squashes
  • 2 Tbs organic butter (replace butter with coconut oil for vegan option)
  • 4 Tbs of Maple Valley maple syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional but encouraged!)
  • 2/3 cup cashews (roughly chopped, halved or whole – up to you!)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash squash and cut in half stem to stem. 
  3. Clean out the seeds and strings and then cut each half in half again.
  4. Place each cleaned quarter, cut side up, fairly close together in an oven-safe baking dish. Add about a ¼” of water to the pan.
  5. Using the butter, evenly coat the squash flesh on each piece. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Next drizzle 2 Tbs of maple syrup across the pieces and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Reserve the other 2 Tbs of syrup for when cashews are added.
  7. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until squash is soft all the way through.
  8. Remove the foil and sprinkle cashews evenly over the pieces of squash and drizzle the remaining 2 Tbs of maple syrup over the cashew pieces.
  9. Bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered.
  10. Serve hot out of the oven. Enjoy!
  11. Store extras in the fridge to enjoy in the next 3-5 days.

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