Tue07292014

Food & Wine

A healthful Halloween?

Stuffed acorn squash makes Halloween dinner scarily delicious.

For most children, Halloween is a fantastic holiday. Sure, the costumes and spooky stories are fun, but let’s be honest – it’s really all about the candy.

So what do you serve for dinner on a night when your children will quadruple their normal sugar intake, and when you might even indulge here and there between handing out sweets to trick-or-treaters?

Try stuffed acorn squash. It’s easy, healthful and, with the right lighting, a dish spooky enough to entice your picky eaters.

Acorn squash is a common winter vegetable. Its squat, ridged appearance and shiny, green skin makes it easy to identify, and it has all the benefits of its better-known cousin, the pumpkin, including a shelf life of up to six months when stored in a cool, dry place.

But by Halloween, you’ve probably carved so many pumpkins and ordered so many pumpkin spice lattes that you’re ready for a break.

Acorn squash has a slightly brighter taste than pumpkin and, while delicious with sweet flavors, pairs well with savory ingredients, too. It’s high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as providing a healthful dose of fiber.

Best of all, acorn squashes are easy to cook, something not always the case with large, unwieldy pumpkins.

Simply use a sharp knife to cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and roast facedown in a casserole dish. When it’s done, flip it over and fill it up with whatever appeals to you.

Ground beef or turkey browned with some onions and spices makes a delicious filling, especially if you add some dried cranberries and goat cheese. Spicy sausage and cilantro combine for another tasty stuffing, or simply fill the squash with buttered pasta.

If your children are daredevils, tell them the stuffing is squash guts, or something equally spooky. If you have picky eaters, don’t mention the guts. Just tell them it’s delicious.

When the children bring home their saccharine loot, you won’t feel as guilty about letting them eat it, or about sneaking a few pieces for yourself.

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