When I was preparing for my acupuncture & Chinese Medicine licensure exams oh so many years ago, I opted to not go out of town to see my family and instead focus on my studying. It would be a quiet holiday consisting of me and my grandpa so I made dinner for just the two of us: Pan-seared salmon with roasted Brussel sprouts & butternut squash plus a few others.
Back then, it was my first time ever cooking with butternut squash but I was excited to try it after seeing it made on tv. I loved it and since then, this side dish has made a regular appearance at Thanksgiving and has become a family favorite.
And now for some health facts:
Nutritionally, Brussel sprouts are rich in Vitamins K and C and are also a source of Vitamin A, folate, and manganese. This cruciferous vegetable is low calorie, high in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. It has been shown to be protective against cancer, maintain bone health, reduce inflammation, improve digestive health, and manage blood sugar. It is usually in season in the fall, so it's perfect for the holidays and boosting your immune system as we enter cold & flu season.
Butternut squash is also seasonal to fall. One serving of butternut squash has four times the recommended amount of Vitamin A, which is great for our eyes. It is also a rich source of the antioxidant Vitamin C, which protects our cells from free radicals, supports collagen synthesis, and skin/tissue repair. Both vitamins are important compounds for supporting our immune system, reducing inflammation, and protecting our body against certain cancers.
In Chinese Medicine, Brussel sprouts are cold in nature and bitter in flavor which hints at its many properties of detoxification and clearing heat & inflammation. Like most squashes, butternut squash is a Qi tonic, nourishing digestion and warming the body.
Throughout the years, I've mainly stuck to the original recipe but have made it with some modifications. I've tried it with both fresh or frozen varieties and my favorite, fresh Brussel sprouts on the stalk. For the chestnuts, I've substituted it with almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans - whatever I had in my pantry. I've also since switched to using oil/fats with a high smoke point such as avocado oil or ghee. No matter how I've made it, it's always delicious and am glad that it is full of nutritional benefits. I hope you make it, and enjoy it as much as I do.
- Dr. Lesley
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered depending on the size)
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1/2 pound chestnuts, shelled and skinned (can substitute with almonds, walnuts, cashews, or pecans)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon butter or ghee (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425.
2. Combine all ingredients and toss. Season with salt/pepper.
3. Evenly spread mixture on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until the vegetables are cooked through, brown, and a little crispy (about 20-25 minutes).
4. Remove the vegetables from the oven, and stir in the additional butter/ghee if desired.
5. Transfer to a platter, serve, and enjoy!
Have a safe & healthy Thanksgiving!
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