As the days get shorter in Autumn, do you feel the like it’s tougher and tougher to get dinner on the table?
For many people, fewer daylight hours means less cooking and more dependance on commercial convenience foods.
But, processed foods are not the answer. Instead, you need a good game-plan for getting healthy dinners on the table. Two great tools for this time of year are a slow cooker and/or an electric pressure cooker.
With either, you can get a fantastic meal on the table, and do very little work after the initial preparation (which can be done the night before).
And best of all, both tools yield deliciously tender meats and great flavors that come together beautifully.
Here is our Autumn Butternut Squash and Pork Stewand how butternut squash benefits your body.
Autumn Butternut Squash and Pork Stew
1 1/2 pounds pork boneless loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
32 ounces chicken broth
1 1/2 cups 1-inch cubes peeled butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons almond flour
3 tablespoons butter
Place 1 tablespoon butter or avocado oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute pork to brown on all sides, just 1-2 minutes per side.
Mix all ingredients except almond flour and remaining butter in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low-heat setting 6 to 7 hours (or high heat setting 3 to 4 hours) or until pork is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.
Mix almond flour and remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Gently stir flour mixture, 1 spoonful at a time, into pork mixture until blended.
Cover and cook on high heat setting 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
Electric Pressure Cooker (ie. an Instant Pot):
Turn pressure cooker on to saute function. When hot, add 1 tablespoon butter or avocado oil and saute pork to brown on all sides, just 1-2 minutes per side.
Switch pressure cooker to the stew/meat setting for 45 minutes.
Add all ingredients except flour and remaining butter.
Close the lid on the slow cooker and allow to cook. It will take an additional 10-15 minutes to build pressure and 10 minutes to natural release pressure after cooking, so plan on ~70 minutes cooking time total.
After natural release of 10 minutes after cooking, mix flour and 3 tablespoons butter in a small bowl.
Switch cooker back to saute, gently stir in flour mixture, 1 spoonful at a time, until blended.
Cook on saute setting 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Enjoy!
Nutrition Info – 6 servings (per serving): 206 calories, 10 grams fat, 9 grams net carbs (14 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber), 10 grams protein
Why Eat Butternut Squash in this Autumn Pork Stew?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the more we choose vibrant, colorful vegetables in our diets, the more health-protective nutrients we’ll consume.
In fact, these nutrients can reduce our risks of cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic ailments that affect the majority of adults in our country (1). With this week’s recipe, we’re skipping refined carbohydrates, like pasta, bread, and rice, and using a single-ingredient whole-food option like butternut squash.
It’s not just about what you’re skipping, but also about what you’re getting.
Here’s what you’ll get.
5 Health Benefits of Butternut Squash
As with most orange vegetables, it’s all about the carotenoids, and butternut squash is no exception. It provides alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants will work together to fight free radicals, reduce the risk of cancer, promote heart health and reduce plaque formations, and preserve eye health (2). Additionally, squash contains vitamin C and manganese – both powerful antioxidants.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Nutrients
The cell walls of squash contain pectin, and pectin contains anti-inflammatory components. What’s more, winter squash provides cucurbitacins. These compounds also decrease chronic inflammation and disease.
3. Fiber for Digestive Health
Butternut squash contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. This is great news for your digestive tract.
The soluble fiber can improve digestive health by feeding healthy bacteria, reducing cholesterol, and stimulating the immune system.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools and keeps the digestive tract healthy.
Unfortunately, it’s estimated as little as 2% of American adults consume the amount of daily potassium recommended by the American Heart Association and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), about 4700 milligrams per day.
Eating vibrantly colored high-potassium foods like butternut squash can help.
5. Help for Winter Hair and Skin
Butternut squash provides 2 key nutrients that are great for hair and skin.
First, it provides vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for sebum production, which keeps hair moisturized. It also plays a role in all body tissue growth.
Next, just one serving of butternut squash provides more than 50% of your daily needed vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for building and maintaining collagen, which is important for hair, skin, nails, and joint health.
Choosing Butternut Squash
Of note, it’s important to choose organic winter squash whenever possible. They happen to be very effective at “pulling” contaminants and chemicals out of the soil (they can be used as a non-food crop planted to improve the quality of soil).
When planted as food, they pull nutrients and toxins alike out of the soil, so organic soil is best.
In the Keto Zone? Autumn Stew and Keto
If you are in the Keto Zone, it’s important to note this recipe contains 9 grams of net carbohydrates per serving. As long as you keep other meals and snacks very low-carb throughout the day, this stew can still fit into your meal plan. But, make sure to keep your portion small, and pair it with high-fat food, such as avocado, alongside.
Our Autumn Butternut Squash and Pork Stew will warm you up, flood your body with wonderful nutrients, and become one of your favorite autumn meals. It can help your body reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, improve digestion, and more. Try it tonight!