Today, I have a “twofer” for you – that’s right! Today is World Diabetes Day and it is Food Network’s Thanksgiving Communal Table feast!
When my friend Carolyn of All Day I Dream About Food asked if I would help raise awareness bout diabetes, I immediately said “yes!” You see, diabetes is one of the top causes of death in the United States, and both my brother and father are now pre-diabetic, so I have taken a keener interest in learning about foods to help control and fight diabetes.
Here are some quick statistics on diabetes (Source: American Diabetes Association)
- 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes – that’s 8.3% of the population, including 7 million people that go undiagnosed.
- 79 million people have prediabetes (precursor to diabetes)
- 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people age 20 years and older in 2010
- 25.6 million, or 11.3% of all people 20 years or older have diabetes
- 10.9 million, or 26.9% of all people 65 years or older have diabetes
Those numbers are astounding! Just think about that – more than a quarter of the U.S. population will have diabetes by the time they are 65 years old or older.
The good news is that it is possible to manage Type 2 Diabetes through lifestyle management such as diet and exercise. Managing glucose levels is critical, so it’s important to choose foods that keep blood sugar steady. Often, people focus on limiting carbohydrates in their diet when they are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, but as my friend and nutritionist Lisa Corrado pointed out in her guest post on How To Eat Healthy When You Have Diabetes, not all carbohydrates are “bad” foods for people with diabetes. Although simple carbohydrates such as cookies, candy, white flour breads and pastas should be kept to a minimum, the fiber in healthy, complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and beans helps keep blood sugar steady (plus they’re full of nutrients and are just plain healthier).
Although winter squash is thought of as a starchy vegetable, recent research shows that not all starch is created equally. Apparently, the starch content of winter squash has some key health benefits. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, “many of the carbs in winter starch come from polysaccharides found in the cell walls. These polysaccharides include pectins…(which) have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.” Winter squash is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and a good source of fiber, manganese and vitamin B6.
For today’s duo event, I am sharing a slightly healthier Winter Squash Casserole that I’ve adapted to be gluten-free and dairy-free. For years, this was a favorite side dish at our middle school’s annual Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. The first year this casserole dish was introduced at the luncheon, it was such a hit, that the following year, we made big batches of it so all the teachers could enjoy it.
Although typically, this casserole recipe is made with butternut squash, it can be made with just about any orange winter squash. I’d been getting lots of different winter squash in my CSA Box over the weeks – Carnival Squash, Acorn Squash and Butternut Squash, and was trying to figure out how to use it all up. My kids aren’t crazy about winter squash so I’m always trying to sneak it into soups (pureed), curries, and this winter squash casserole.
A few weeks ago, I made a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for a family in town and extra for my kids. Thanksgiving dinner is one of my kids’ favorites, so when they found out I was treating them to a Thanksgiving feast one Friday night, they were thrilled. When they asked what this orange puree dish was, I told them it was squash casserole and I was met with skeptical stares. I even put them in the squash shells to make it look prettier, but that didn’t fool them. But…one taste, and they were won over. Of course, it didn’t hurt that this casserole was spiced up with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, almost like having pumpkin pie for dinner. Note: I used maple syrup when I made this casserole for my family, so substitute a diabetic friendly sweetener if desired. My friend Carolyn suggests Swerve.
Feedback from the family on this Winter Squash Casserole – “That was the Bomb!” and should be our Thanksgiving menu every year!
Every scoop of this Winter Squash Casserole was eaten.
Please be sure to pop by my friend Carolyn’s blog, All Day I Dream About Food to enter her giveaway – a Blue KitchenAid Stand Mixer (blue is the color of diabetes awareness) and to see what everyone else made for World Diabetes Day.
And, I know you’ll want to pop by these wonderful blogs to see what they cooked up for today’s Food Network’s Thanksgiving Communal Table feast!
Cocktails, Appetizers, Salads and Breads:
Haute Apple Pie: Apple Jack
Cooking With Books: Spiced Couscous and Walnut Salad
Mooshu Jenne: Honey Bacon Potato Pops
Food For My Family: Roasted Beet and Lacinato Kale Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Super Seeded Cornbread
FN Dish: Black Pepper-Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Turkey
Feed Me Phoebe: Cornbread and Wild Rice Stuffing With Hazelnuts and Cranberries
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Chorizo, Cornbread and Tortilla Dressing
Sweet Life: Apple Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing
And Love It, Too: Paleo Green Bean Casserole
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Sweet Spiced Winter Squash Casserole
Red or Green?: Corn, Peppers and Onion Saute
Simple Bites: Honey Pomegranate Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Virtually Homemade: Fresh Orange and Cranberry Sauce With Toasted Walnuts
What’s Gaby Cooking: Sweet Potato Gratin
The Heritage Cook: Cauliflower Gratin
Creative Culinary: Creamy Mushroom Bake With Parmesan and Panko
Bacon and Souffle: Spicy Carnival Squash
I Am Baker: Pumpkin Bars in a Jar
Add a Pinch: Caramel Pie
Chez Us: Pumpkin Cheesecake With Chocolate Swirls
Sweet Spiced Winter Squash Casserole
- ~3 pounds pounds winter squash 2-3 acorn, butternut, carnival squash or any other similar winter squash, depending on the size
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or low-carb sugar substitute such as Swerve
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- cinnamon for sprinkling on top
Roast Winter Squash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squashes in half and seed. Lightly oil baking sheet and place halved winter squash cut side down. Roast about 45-55 minutes, or until knife cuts easily into skin. Cool. Scoop out flesh with spoon.
Winter Squash Casserole
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place squash in food processor and process until just about smooth. Add coconut milk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Process until smooth. Pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until set.
For another low-carb winter squash casserole recipe, check out this Savory Butternut Squash Casserole I made last Thanksgiving.
Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) says
I love when you can use the squash shell to serve the dish – so fun and festive! This look great =)
Diabetes also runs in my family so I really appreciate this awareness campaign. Your casserole sounds delicious Jeanette. Thanks for sharing and love the way you presented it.
Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily says
This is why I look forward to fall all year long! All of these wonderful squash recipes. Yipppeeee!
napa farmhouse 1885/diane says
thanks jeanette. all the females on my mom’s side of the family (and some of the men) are diabetic. my sisters and i have vowed to do everything possible to prevent the cycle to continue. i am not developing this if i can help it!!! the squash recipes sound wonderful.
Kim - Liv Life says
I’m recently addicted to squash recipes. Just can’t seem to get enough of them. Now if only I could get the kids to learn to love them I’d be in business. We do mostly dairy free dinners here, and I’m loving the addition of the coconut milk… I keep forgetting to use that. Wonderful recipe and a wonderful Thanksgiving Table you have!! I hope you know just how long it’s going to take me to go through that… but I can’t resist!!
I always like finding new winter squash recipes and this one looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it!
what a great way to raise an awareness. we got severe allergies so I completely understand the effort. we got diabetics in our family too. it is so hard to manage especially with children, What a great squash souffle. I don’t make them too often, I should though!
Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook says
Jeanette, leave it to you to come up with a delicious, healthy, and gorgeous alternative for our Thanksgiving meal. I cannot wait to make this and know my husband will be thanking you from afar when I do, LOL!!!
I love all the Thanksgiving themed foods. This casserole is just beautiful!
Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies says
What a gorgeous casserole! I can just imagine how good it smells baking in the oven. 🙂 It would be a nice change from the usual Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole!
Catherine H. says
Thanks for participating in this awareness-raising event. All due respect to your nutritionist friend, but I don’t understand how encouraging consumption of whole grains will cut back on the diabetes epidemic. I recommend this movie for an excellent primer on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evcNPfZlrZs. Or you can check out http://www.fathead-movie.com for the blog.
What a great dish to share. I adore squash, but I am definitely with you on having to convince my family that it’s acceptable to eat it multiple times a week for the whole month of November. 🙂
Great side dish. I love the coconut milk and squash combination – one of my favorite ways to prepare creamy butternut squash. Lenny’s dad has diabetes; definitely passing this along to his sister do they can make for him this year.
France @ Beyond The Peel says
Sounds like a crustless pumpkin pie! What’s not to love. That’s just fabulous. I’m going to keep this in mind the next time I have a squash hater to convert over to the lover side of things.
Coconut milk from a can or refrigerated coconut milk?
I use canned coconut milk.
Could a sub for the coconut milk be used do you think?
Michelle – I used coconut milk to keep this dairy-free. Are you trying to keep it dairy free?
Could I substitute regular milk or rice milk???
Sondra – yes, you can use whatever milk you like.