Cooking and Food Skills

Squash – Types, Benefits and Recipes

Fall is the season of squash. The produce section of any supermarket prominently displays various squashes – butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash to name a few.

Types of squashes

Squashes come in many varieties– from small zucchini to large pumpkins. They also have
a variety of colours, shades of yellow, green, and orange and are a delight to see. Commonly available squashes are butternut squash, acorn squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, Hubbard
squash, and Kabocha squash. Some other types are Delicata Squash, Carnival Squash, Gold Nugget
Squash, Buttercup Squash, Banana Squash, Autumn Cup Squash, Ambercup Squash, Sweet Dumpling Squash and Turban Squash.

Health Benefits of Squash

Squash is nutrient-rich and mainly contains vitamins A and C. It provides numerous health benefits,
some of which are listed below

  1. Good for Heart Health: Squash contains magnesium which helps to reduce the risk of heart
    attack and stroke. Magnesium along with potassium helps in reducing high blood pressure.
    Vitamin C and beta-carotene levels help in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol.
  2. Prevents Cancer: The high content of antioxidants in squash helps in eliminating free radicals
    from our bodies. The beta-carotene in squash provides protection from pollutants and
    chemicals that can lead to cancer. Squash contains Vitamin C that prevents premature aging and
    cancer. It also inhibits cell division. Squash also contains vitamin A which provides protection
    against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  3. Healthy Bones: Squash contains loads of manganese and vitamin C. Manganese helps in building
    bone structure and increases calcium absorption. Vitamin C is involved in the production of Collagen which is important for building bone mass.
  4. Good for Eyes: The dietary lutein in squash plays an important role in preventing the onset of
    cataracts and macular degeneration.
  5. Improves Colon Health: The high amount of fibers in squash helps in taking toxins out of our
  6. Diabetes: Squash has a low glycemic index and is helpful in stabilizing sugar levels. Certain squash
    varieties like pumpkin contain a polysaccharide known as pectin. Pectin helps in regulating blood
    sugar levels thus preventing the risk of Type2 diabetes.
  7. Rich source of Carotenoids: squashes contain a high level of carotenoids, mainly beta-carotene,
    lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. These carotenoids help in the prevention and treatment of age-
    related macular degeneration, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Squash Recipes to Try

Kitchen Volunteers Saving the Day (and bread)!

The Cambridge Food Bank works hard to keep as much food out of the landfill as possible; using the power of volunteers our Food Rescue program has saved thousands of pounds of food from going to waste. What we save can vary based on what food is in abundance; during this specific week, we focused on bread that was no longer at peak freshness but is still good to eat. Our kitchen team got right to work chopping and seasoning bread to make delicious croutons that will be distributed to those using the food bank’s emergency hamper program. Whether added to a salad, a soup or a casserole, homemade croutons can be seasoned to your taste and add an extra crunch to your meal.

A big thank you to Oluyinka and Akingbade who join us every week in our kitchen to send food to bellies, not the landfill.

Back to School- Tips for healthy lunches on a budget

While summer is winding down, grocery prices continue to soar making back-to-school meal planning more challenging than ever. Finding ways to reduce food expenses while still sending the kiddos off with tasty, healthy meals can be a struggle. Here are some tips to help you start the school year off right!

Don’t forget to repurpose leftovers. 

There are tons of possibilities all of which save you money and prevent food waste. Leftover pasta can be turned into a pasta salad. Leftover chicken can be sliced or shredded for wraps. Soup is a wonderful way to use leftovers and create a healthy, delicious meal for later that week. Check out our favourite soup recipes here.

Make your own Lunchables

Crackers, meat, and cheese can be sent in a container so that kids can put them together as they would the store-bought kind. Choose your child’s favourites so that they feel it is made special just for them, better than the packaged ones.

Let the kids wrap it up. 

Kids love “creating” their own lunches and putting lunch components in containers rather than building sandwiches saves time. Include small tortillas and fillings your kids like (such as ham and cheese, chicken and veggies, or cheese and salsa). They can assemble the wraps once it’s time to eat. 

Prepare your own fresh fruit.

Want to get your kids to eat more fruit while cutting costs? Slash your spending by looking out for fresh fruit on sale, buying what’s in season and freezing any surplus. Here is a fun tip – instead of buying expensive little bags of pre-cut apples – slice and core your own, then put them back together as a whole and tie it with an elastic band. This discourages browning and keeps the pieces juicy!

Buy in bulk.

Visit the local Bulk Barn or any grocery where you can weigh your own and buy bulk. Dried fruit, mini pretzels, nut-free granola and other snacks can be stored in jars at home and put into food containers for lunches. You will save by not buying overpriced, individually wrapped snack bags.

Research cost friendly recipes and fun lunch ideas online.

There are a ton of great lunch ideas at your fingertips. Check out our favourite budget-friendly lunch recipes here

Our top 4 Soup picks to make

While March is here and spring is just around the corner, it’s still cold outside! So, here are a few of our favourite soup recipes from the Canada Food Guide to warm you up through the grey March days and April Showers that are to come.

Harira (Moroccan Stew) 

This aromatic soup can be easily made with common spices from your kitchen like cumin and cinnamon, and coriander seeds. It’s hearty, can be frozen easily, and can also be served over rice or quinoa to be extra filling. 


Three Sisters Soup  (Corn, Beans and Squash Soup) 


This traditional Native Canadian recipe is the kind of warm, delicious soup that will fill you up. Serve with a slice of brown bread, and you have a great hearty meal for a cold day. 

Red Lentil Mushroom Soup 

This versatile soup can be made with any type of mushrooms and/or lentils! Just make sure you keep an eye on cooking times because some lentils and some mushrooms cook differently. Don’t like mushrooms at all? Just add carrots and onions instead.

Chicken Noodle Soup


The classic soup for colds and cold weather. This soup is made with chicken thighs, which give the soup more flavour, and also save you money! Chicken thighs tend to be a lot cheaper than any other cut of chicken.

All of these soups can be made with a variety of fresh, dried, canned and frozen foods.

At Cambridge Food Bank, we’re more than just a food bank. We have a variety of programs, which are geared towards cooking healthy foods, promoting physical health through activities, and prioritizing mental health during times of duress. Our programs are designed for a variety of ages, and right now are being conducted through Zoom. For more information about our winter programs visit: https://cambridgefoodbank.org/winter-2022-youth-wellness-programs/  or for other programs visit https://cambridgefoodbank.org/supports-for-people/

How to Meal Plan on a Budget

Meal Planning takes time, energy, and resources, and if you’re working two jobs, raising kids, low on funds, or all three, it can seem impossible! Meal kits, take out and other options can be expensive and add up fast and, while boxed macaroni and cheese, canned soup, and other processed foods are easy to make, they don’t offer a whole lot in the way of nutritional value. With food costs projected to rise another 5-7% this year, everyone needs to figure out a solution to eat healthy while cutting costs. That’s why we’ve assembled quick and easy tips for building a meal plan for cheap, healthy, meals that the whole family will love. 

Find your favourites!

This is going to sound like a pretty obvious one, but the temptation with a meal plan is to go with recipes that you haven’t necessarily tried before. Unfortunately, if you don’t like the recipe, or it takes too long to make, or needs ingredients or spices that you’re never going to eat again- it’s not worth it. A meal plan that has tried and true favourites makes it easy to stick to, reduces food waste, and lessens the temptation to opt for fast food. 

Go Meatless

One of the things that takes the highest toll on any grocery budget is the protein. Meat and seafood can be pricey, so a solution to that is to lessen the amount of meat you’re eating and choose vegetable-based meals. You don’t have to become a vegetarian permanently, or eat things that you’re unfamiliar with, but with some prior planning and a few meatless mondays you can make your budget stretch.

Shop Sales

With the internet, finding sales is even easier than before. You can shop around and see which stores have the best deals on products from the comfort of your home and you can also search different products to compare prices from most grocery store websites. One tip: Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you have to buy it, make sure that it’s something you’re going to use, and that you’re not stocking up on things just because. Plus some stores offer price matching, so check what your local stores policy is before you go. 

Shop Seasonal

While you might think that nothing is in season in winter, this isn’t the case. Rutabagas, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, leeks, beets, turnips and squash are all in season, and you could potentially get them for a good price at the grocery store! If you shop based on what’s in season, you can take advantage of the surplus driving the costs down, and save some cash. 


If you have access to a freezer, it can be your best friend. Pre-making and freezing meals can keep you going on days when you don’t have time or energy to make something different. Plus, if the option to purchase in bulk and freeze items is there, this can save you some money in the long run. 

Pantry Prep

Pantry staples are called staples for a reason. They’re the things that usually hold your whole meal plan together! Having pasta, grains, noodles, nuts and seeds, canned goods and other things are a great place to start planning your meal plan. If you have certain things in your pantry, look there first before making your meal plan. Chances are you might get some inspiration, or can look up recipes to use what you already have. 

Even with these budget saving tips, we understand that it’s difficult to put food on the table some days. Contact us at the Cambridge Food Bank for more information on our programs and services, including our mobile food market, community meal and more