“Now in November comes the sun down the abandoned heaven.” — D.H. Lawrence

November foods are full of natural nutrition. The bountiful fall harvest includes luscious fruits and vegetables including dark, leafy kale, snow white cauliflower, crunchy red apples, succulent pears, giant stalks of Brussels sprouts, gleaming orange pumpkins, creamy, tan butternut squash and vibrant red cranberries.

Butternut squash, in particular, is a tremendously popular November ingredient. Readily available in all supermarkets and most farm markets, butternut squash are extremely versatile. Whether roasted, pureed, made into soup or stew, blended into a smooth, silky pasta sauce or incorporated into numerous baked goods, butternut squash will bring brilliant color and powerful health benefits to November meals.

Combine roasted squash cubes with farro, barley or couscous and tart cranberries for a toothsome side dish. Or assemble a sensational salad of roasted butternut slices, crisp apple chunks, parmesan cheese shavings and crunchy walnuts, dressed with a maple vinaigrette. Butternut squash can be blended with roasted garlic, onions, and sprightly chili pepper for an invigorating hors d’oeuvre. Butternut bisque, created with roasted squash, roasted pears, plenty of caramelized onions, freshly grated ginger, pumpkin pie spice and chicken broth makes a warm, wonderful starter for any autumn celebration.

Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A, which functions as a potent antioxidant, providing optimal skin protection and rejuvenation, eye health, and possible protection from certain cancers. Quite low in calories, butternut squash has no saturated fat or cholesterol, and is a superb source of dietary fiber. Squash flesh is loaded with minerals, including iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and phosphorous, and the seeds can be roasted and eaten for a fiber and protein filled snack.

Enjoy the nourishment of November as you prepare a delicious life!

Nourishing November Dip

Makes approximately 4 cups

1 two pound butternut squash (or 1 bag of precut butternut squash cubes)

1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered

1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peel left on

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

¼ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream (non-fat or low-fat is fine)

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika or cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place whole squash on baking sheet, poke with a knife in several places. Place onion quarters and garlic cloves on baking sheet and drizzle with half the oil. Bake until squash is very tender, 45-60 minutes. Check periodically to make sure onions and garlic are not burning. They will finish cooking before squash, so remove when garlic is soft and onions are soft and browned, and set aside. Remove squash when done and let cool. Cut open when cool and scoop out seeds and membrane. Scoop out flesh and place in a food processor or blender. Squeeze garlic cloves into blender or food processor and add onion. Add remaining oil, sour cream or Greek yogurt, ground chipotle or smoked paprika and pumpkin pie spice. Process until very smooth. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and more spice if desired.

Serve with raw veggies, sweet potato chips, pita crisps or crostini.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and Columbia University Teachers College.