In my home, butternut squash remains a cautionary yellow light food, meaning my kids proceed with caution. They are still leery of this bright orange veggie which shows up in the fall. I love the comforting flavor of squash and present it in new ways to get my family on board.
Today, I have a new strategy, and it involves butter and sugar. You might be thinking butter and sugar have no place around veggies, it defeats the purpose. I thought that once as well.
Let me tell you a story. It’s about a salad bar…
Imagine your old grade school cafeteria – the terrazzo flooring, the rows of tables and metal chairs, the mint green lunch trays – that’s where I was headed. To be the Foodservice Director, working to spice up the hot lunch program at my children’s school.
My first task was optimizing veggies – with a salad bar. Out went the Tupperware container of iceberg lettuce next to the tiny container of carrots. Appetizing, it was not.
On the first day of school, the shiny new salad bar was ready for the children, I was thrilled watching children excited about veggies!
But I have a confession. I stretched the rules in that cafeteria. What did I do? I served full fat ranch dressing & I allowed children to come back to the salad bar for seconds.
When the kids were finished with their meal and were still hungry, they could come back for veggies, and I found that if kids could dip veggies in a flavorful dip they liked, they ate their veggies. It was as simple as that.
I didn’t start serving full fat ranch right away. I served the fat-free variety at first and watched. On fat-free ranch days, the news spread like wildfire and not so many veggies were eaten. On full fat ranch days, the veggie consumption increased multiple times over.
I learned a lot from watching those children over the course of 3 years. I have applied these lessons to my own home, maybe you’ll consider doing the same when you need a little help with veggies your children don’t love – yet.
So, I added the butter and sugar. And it was delicious. And my kids thought so too.
Caramelized Butternut Squash
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Peel squash using a vegetable peeler. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Chop into cubes and place on baking sheet.
- Mix butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour over squash and mix.
- Bake 25-30 minutes, flipping squash halfway through, until soft and caramelized.
Prepare squash as listed above. Cut into large cubes. Place in crockpot, pour butter mixture on top and stir. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 2-4 hours. Serve as is, or mash for a Mashed Caramelized Butternut Squash side dish.