Gourds & Squashes: Types, Uses, Benefits

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It’s hard to hear “gourd” without thinking autumn. While the actual term refers to a select few specific  plants of the Cucurbitaceae family that are typically used for decoration, gourd is sometimes also used to describe other crops in this family, like squash! Here at Free People, we’re so excited that autumn has finally arrived, and today I wanted to focus some attention on these beautiful oddly-shaped plants – specifically, their types, uses, and benefits.

Types

Gourds and squashes come in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors. I gathered a couple of my favorites and identified them below!

Types of gourds and squashes

Uses

Gourds grow in the most incredible shapes, which is one of the reasons they make for great decorations during the fall. I’ve always found that many of them look like little geese, which is so cute to me. This fall, supplement your pumpkin-decorating with gourd-decorating, and line them up on your windowsill for an adorable display.

Decorated white pumpkin, gourd

I also love the idea of creating a dried garland using gourds, like this one from Terrain.

Gourds

When it comes to cooking, there are lots of squashes that are available year-round, with many peaking in the fall and winter months. Squash is an excellent healthy ingredient to use in your fall meals, and the recipe options are endless. Some of our favorites are this squash soup with sage and orzo, mediterranean spaghetti squash salad, and butternut squash chai smoothie.

Squash in bag

Benefits

Different types of squashes have a multitude of benefits to your health, so try incorporating them into your diet as often as you can! While all types of squash are great for your health, winter squashes tend to contain more nutrients than summer varieties — especially B vitamins, which help reduce stress, treat anxiety and depression, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Butternut squash, along with other yellow squashes, also contains carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart disease, while also providing an overall boost to your immune system.

Boots and gourds

Gourds on ground

Gourd season is certainly here, so get out there and bring some into your life this fall! :)

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Comments

Liz -October 2, 2013, 10:09AM

I am determined to find some good uses for squash this season. Traditionally, I do not like to eat any squash. It’s the one vegetable I just don’t like. But I am determined to use at least a tiny bit in a recipe this fall on my quest to find something I love! Maybe I will try that soup. ;) Other than that, there are gourds all over my apartment for fall decor. :)

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Tanvi -October 2, 2013, 11:17AM

I made the butternut squash soup last week, and with my awful reputation when it comes to cooking, my parents were unsure about trying it. When they did, they were crazy about it!! Squash is becoming one of my favourite fruits pretty quickly!! :)

meg -October 2, 2013, 12:13PM

butternut squash quesadillas with arugula and pepper jack (or vegan cheese sub) are awesome. also just roasted acorn squash with a drizzle of maple syrup, or butter and ginger. yum :)

Lucille -October 2, 2013, 12:49PM

Squash Soup Goodness, for two, so tasty I had to share

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Leeks, Celery, two inches peeled fresh ginger- All chopped together fine, enough to cover
the bottom of your soup pot
Small Sweet Potato, peeled and sliced into thin disks
Garlic, two cloves chopped fine fresh or dried powdered garlic, both good!
Cinnamon
Salt, Pepper, & a spoonful of sugar
SQUASH of the autumn/winter variety, either fresh (baked & chopped) or canned
Coconut milk or cream
Water

Preheat your soup pot on medium, then heat oil swirl to coat bottom, then add leek celery ginger mix. (If you preheat your pans lightly before adding anything food will be less likely to stick, but don’t get your olive oil too hot. Oil should sizzle when you add things too it but not pop & splatter- if it does this turn down your heat). Add a few pinches salt & a small spoonful of sugar- the tiny bit of sugar helps the leeks out because they don’t really carmelize like onions, stir and give the pot a shake so the bottom is evely covered. Simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally, then add sweet potato. Continue until sweet potatoes are soft, adding splashes of water and a lid if needed.

Then add your garlic, pepper, couple dashes cinnamon, and cooked or canned squash. Cook about four minutes, stirring frequently. Turn heat to low, & add water until veggies are just covered, and blend with a stick blender until creamy. Then slowly, to taste, add your coconut milk. This really makes this soup good, but don’t add more than you need, you don’t want the flavor to overwhelm the squash. I use less than 1/4 can of light coconut milk or a few tablespoons of coconut cream- keeps the fat content of this dish low & healthy.

Cover & let heat through, stir every now & then. Make minor adjustments to taste if you need to. Enjoy!

P.S. Your best bet on leeks is Trader Joe’s- bagged in the frozen aisle, inexpensive and if you chop them while still frozen they don’t make your eyes water. :)

Juliette Laura -October 3, 2013, 9:21AM

Such a perfect post! Looks so so wonderful! I love decorating with gourds and eating squash in the fall!

xo, Juliette Laura
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http://www.etsy.com/shop/InfiniteStyleShop

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