This time of year, I always find fantastic deals on butternut squash and other winter favorites. I stock up as many as I can and roast them in batches and freeze them to use throughout the year. Squash is a great metabolic booster, if you're looking to lose a few holiday pounds.

By using squash in recipes, you can add fiber, vitamins, and flavor to recipes without letting your kids know what you're up to. Take a butternut squash, or similar winter variety, and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and place face down on a shallow baking pan. Add a small amount of water and roast for about 20-40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the squash is consistently soft. Scoop out the squashy good stuff after it's cooled and store it in baggies in the freezer up to 6 months. This is the stuff you'll be using to mask healthy veggies all year long, in every family favorite.

1. Macaroni and Cheese — Add ½ cup of the roasted squash to add fiber and vitamins to a normally unhealthy family staple.

2. Use Squash as an Egg Replacement in Baking — Remove cholesterol by adding roasted squash instead of eggs to traditional baking goods, such as muffins and pancakes, breads and cookies. Just add more baking powder if you'd like the bread to be less heavy as a result of the squash.

3. Butternut Squash Pizza — For a slightly sweet dinner treat, spread the roasted squash around a lightly olive-oiled pizza crust and top with mozzarella. Add caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, sprinkled kosher salt and sage to have a true culinary delight.

4. Sauce Thickener — Use roasted squash, a tablespoon at a time, as a sauce thickener. From gravies to spaghetti sauces, you can cut out the starch and add vitamin A to your traditional mix.

5. Roasted Squash Brownies — Take an 18.25 oz box of moist chocolate cake mix, and mix in 1 ¾ cup well blended, roasted squash. Place in a greased baking pan and cook at 400 degrees until the center is cooked through (until a toothpick comes out clean). I bet no one will guess what's the main ingredient!

6. Roasted Squash Enchiladas — In a medium bowl, mix ½ cup sautéed onions, 1 ½ cup roasted squash, taco seasoning, 2/3 cup diced tomatoes, and cilantro to taste. Mix well, then add in ¾ cup cheddar cheese. Use as a filling for 6 corn tortillas. Place face down in a greased baking dish and cover with enchilada sauce and sprinkled cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until warmed through. Serve warm.

7. Filling for Ravioli — Make delicious ravioli filling with squash, roasted garlic and salt and pepper. Add nutmeg to make it exotic. Serve with a browned sage butter sauce.

8. Mix in Soups — To make any soup creamier, add roasted squash.

9. Mix some into Mashed Potatoes — Add color and more fiber to traditional mashed potatoes by throwing in the roasted squash.

10. Make Omelets — Use the roasted squash as a mix for omelets. Add red peppers and garlic to shake it up. 

Add cubed, roasted squash to a number of things as toppings:

  • Pizza
  • Salads
  • Stir fry
  • On top of burgers

When these are on sale, squash make for an affordable food that can be used in everyday items. The natural nutrients help build up your immunity in the cold winter months and keep your metabolism going through the gorge fest of the holidays. Happy eating!

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