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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Winter Squash

Dec 30, 2021 09:00AM ● By Nancy Seigle

by Jaycee Miller 

Winter squash is a delicious and nutritious option for the dinner table, and not just because of its name.  

This primer differentiates common winter squashes, ways to prepare them, and more.  

Acorn squash: Dark green and resembling a football with three-dimensional creases, it has a savory and nutty taste. One cup of this cooked winter squash contains about 115 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates. as well as 18 percent of a typical American’s recommended daily value for provitamin A and 37 percent of our recommended daily value for vitamin C.  

Buttercup squash: Looking like an uncarved dark green jack-o-lantern, it has a dry and very sweet taste. Three-quarters cup of squash has about 30 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates, adding that same serving size contains 70 percent of most Americans’ daily requirement of vitamin A and 23 percent of these individuals’ daily requirement of vitamin C.  

Butternut squash: Pale orange and containing a bottom that is wider than its top, it has a sweet, nutty taste. One cup of this winter squash cubed and then cooked has about 82 calories and adds 21.5 grams of carbohydrates to our eating plans. That serving size is also an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Consuming this much satisfies at least 20 percent of nearly everyone’s recommended daily intake of those nutrients.  

Carnival squash:  Resembling an uncut orange jack-o-lantern with white and green splotches, it has a sweet taste. Three-quarters cup of this squash has about 30 calories and a carbohydrate count of seven, while the vitamin A percentage is 19 percent of a typical American’s recommended daily value and vitamin C percentage is 10 percent of their recommended daily value.  

Delicata squash: Looking like a yellow eggplant with dark green vertical lines, it tastes nutty, sweet, and is not dry at all. A one-cup serving size of this winter squash contains approximately 205 calories and 18.1 grams of carbohydrates, as well as 59 percent of most Americans recommended daily vitamin A value and 22 percent of most of these individuals recommended daily vitamin C value. 

Hubbard squash: Green and resembling an uncarved jack-o-lantern, its taste is heavy, sweet and dry, while a one-cup serving of this winter squash cubed contains 50 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates, adding that same serving size contains 120 percent of nearly everyone in America’s daily vitamin A intake and 30 percent of this same group’s daily vitamin C intake.  

Kabocha squash: Looking like an uncut dark green jack-o-lantern, it tastes unpleasantly starchy unless it is cooked long enough to bring out its sugars. One cup contains 49 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrates. Adding that same serving size has 282 percent of most Americans recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 19 percent of their recommended daily intake of vitamin C.  

Kiri squash: Often red and sometimes containing a nub on its end, it has a nutty flavor. There are 60 calories in 1 cup of raw cubes of this winter squash, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 10 percent of a typical American’s vitamin A value and 25 percent of their vitamin C value. 

Spaghetti squash: Resembling a yellow oval when laid on its long side, ModernFarmer.com reports it has a “mild and delicate” taste. One cup of this winter squash contains 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates, as well as 8 percent of most Americans recommended daily intake of vitamin A.  

Sugar Pumpkin squash: Orange and tastes—as might be assumed by its name—sweet. One cup cubed contains 30 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrates, as well as 197 percent of nearly everyone in America’s recommended daily vitamin A intake and 17 percent of their recommended daily vitamin C intake.  

There is very little or no fat in each of these winter squash per serving. In addition, these foods contain varying amounts of fiber, and the more fiber one eats, the more full the stomach tends to feel.  

The ideal winter squash is free of “soft spots, bruises, or mold,” states SeriousEats.com, adding “bumps and discoloration” on winter squash is fine. Once it’s purchased, “store it in a place that is dark, dry, ventilated, and about 50°F to 55°F,” the website also relates. 

Winter squash can be steamed, simmered, pressure-cooked or sautéed to the eater’s liking.  

Amy Kimberlain, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, offers even more ways to prepare it: “Use pieces of winter squash as an ingredient in black bean tacos or risottos. Or roast pieces and throw them into chilis, stews, or soups or puree it into a soup. Or add them to yogurt or oatmeal.”  

Kimberlain also shares a winter squash storage tip: “Cut up any remaining pieces, store it in an airtight container, and freeze it,” she says. Then, a day before you want to use it, “thaw it in the refrigerator.”  

Kimberlain also notes that “winter squash is much more fibrous” than summer varieties of squash like zucchini, making winter squash a good food choice for those trying to lose weight.  

In addition, the attributes of winter squash contain antioxidants and varying levels of vitamin D and potassium, which can “lower blood pressure and potentially reduce one’s stroke risk,” she adds. 

Jaycee Miller is a freelance researcher, blogger and writer living in New Jersey. 

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