We now have even more reasons to go nuts for nuts. Research published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health found that adding a half-serving of nuts (14 grams) to a daily diet may reduce weight gain and obesity risk in adults (participants were followed for two decades). Consuming calories from nuts in place of calories from less healthy items, such as processed meats and potato chips, was also protective against extra weight.

One more reason to crunch our way through a handful of nuts daily: Eating nuts at least twice a week was associated with a 17% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease among 5,432 adults ages 35 and older over a median 12-year follow-up, according to a study presented at the 2019 meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Paris. That makes this nutty squash recipe a belly- and heart-healthy side dish for any meal.

Orange-Glazed Butternut Squash With Herbed Pecans

2/3 C pecan halves

1 t extra-virgin olive oil

2 t fresh thyme

2 t chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 t paprika

1/4 t + 1/8 t salt

4 C butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 T unsalted butter

1 T honey

1 t orange zest

2 T orange juice

1/2 C dried plums (prunes), sliced in half

2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, stir together pecans and olive oil. Add thyme, rosemary, paprika and 1/4 t salt; stir to coat nuts with mixture. Place nuts on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes or until browned, being careful not to burn them. Meanwhile, place butternut squash in a steamer basket and steam until fork-tender, about 6–8 minutes. In a skillet, melt together butter, honey, orange zest and orange juice over medium-low heat. Add squash, dried plums and remaining salt; cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes, making sure squash is well-coated with the orange glaze. Serve topped with pecans and goat cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Making Butternut Squash More A-Peeling!

If the words “peeled and cubed” eliminate squash recipes from your repertoire, here are two options to squash your objections:

  1. Buy it that way. Check your produce section for bags of butternut squash already peeled and cubed.
  2. “Nuke” it. Just prick the skin of the squash all over with a fork, slice off both ends and microwave for about 3½ minutes. Let it cool a bit, and the skin will easily peel away (and it’s much easier to cube).

If you choose to go old-school, slice off the stem and bottom ends of the squash, so that both ends are flat. Slice the squash in half, just where the thinner end begins to widen around the middle. Turn each half so that a flat end rests against the cutting board. Use a sharp serrated peeler or paring knife to peel off the skin in downward strokes.