#SquashGoals - Your Guide to Winter Squash

Although there's nothing stopping you from eating squash all year long, it seems to be featured most prominently in the fall - when it's easiest to find at grocery stores and is considered "in season." 

Once you cut up a squash and toss it in some olive oil - you can throw it in the oven, roast it for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and boom - tons of delicious options for main dishes or sides. It's so simple, so quintessentially fall - and so delicious and nutritious to boot. 

But with so many varieties of squash - how's a girl (or guy) to choose? If you're like me, you choose based on which is the cheapest on the day you happen to be doing the grocery shopping. But, some of you may have a different priority system when it comes to food shopping. Like say, flavor, nutrition or how easy it is to cook. 

Square are extremely versatile and can be used in a million different types of cooking - some you may not even think of! That's why I'm here. To open your eyes to the wonderful world of winter squash. 

*Excuse the poor image quality as I take a few images from my Instagram account way back in the day when my food photographer skills were, well, you'll see. 

#SquashGoals

1. Kabocha Squash

AKA: Japanese Pumpkin

Characteristics:

Kabocha looks like a squat, dark-green pumpkin with some lighter green stripes. The inside is a dark yellow-orange. It closely resembles a buttercup squash, but you can tell them apart because a kabocha squash's base point out, not in. 

Flavor:

A kabocha squash is extremely sweet, even sweeter than a butternut squash and the texture is like a mix between a sweet potato and a pumpkin. It also has a nutty flavor. You can eat the rind of a kabocha squash, making it extremely easy to throw in the over for roasting. 

Nutrition: 

One cup of cubed kabocha squash contains 30 calories and is packed with beta carotene. 

Interesting Fact About Kabocha Squash: 

In some cultures, it is revered as an aphrodisiac! 

Recipe: Kabocha Squash Pudding

This might be a little out of left field - but check out this awesome recipe from Running With Spoons for a Kabocha Pudding! The great thing about squash is it's so versatile - it can serve as a sweet addition to a meal or be completely savory. 

To roast kabocha squash, follow these easy steps

2. Butternut Squash

AKA: Butternut Pumpkin 

 Back in the day, I used butternut squash to create butternut squash and spinach spring rolls!

Back in the day, I used butternut squash to create butternut squash and spinach spring rolls!

Characteristics: 

A butternut squash looks a little bit like an elongated pear - a skinny neck with a bulbous base. Light yellow-tan in color, the inside of a butternut squash is dark yellow-orange. 

Flavor: 

In many places, a butternut squash is used interchangeably with pumpkins. It can be roasted, pureed, grilled or served with sweet toppings like cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Nutrition: 

Packed with fiber, vitamin C, A and E, manganese, magnesium and potassium. 1 cup of cubed butternut squash contains 63 calories. 

Recipe: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Recently, a friend made a bangin' pumpkin macaroni and cheese. This recipe for butternut squash macaroni and cheese from Two Peas and Their Pod sounds incredible and I love that it includes the best part of any mac and cheese - it's all about the crispy breadcrumbs on top!

To roast a butternut squash, follow these easy steps - and remember, you can make your squash glisten with whatever oil you choose - it doesn't need to be coconut oil! 

3. Acorn Squash 

AKA: Pepper Squash or Des Moines Squash 

 Last fall, a made a butternut squash stuffed with  quinoa, spinach, sweet potato and avocado and topped it with cheese and walnuts. Maybe a little overboard on the ingredient list. 

Last fall, a made a butternut squash stuffed with quinoa, spinach, sweet potato and avocado and topped it with cheese and walnuts. Maybe a little overboard on the ingredient list. 

Characteristics: 

This one's easy - it looks like an acorn! You should try to choose an acorn squash that's green. Once it start to turn orange, it means that the skin is likely to be tough and fibrous. 

Flavor: 

Acorn squash is one of the more mild squashes which makes it a great vehicle for stuffing it full of delicious ingredients. 

Nutrition: 

Full of dietary fiber and potassium, 1 cup of acorn squash contains 56 calories and will keep you feeling full! 

Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this stuffed acorn squash recipe from In It 4 The Long Run serves as an excellent dish if you're trying to please vegetarians in the family! What I love about Georgie's recipes is they never include a ton of crazy ingredients - keeping the cost low and prep time quick! 

To roast an acorn squash - cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, coat the flesh side with oil, and roast flesh-side up on a baking sheet a 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

4. Spaghetti Squash 

AKA: Vegetable Spaghetti 

 Spaghetti squash  with chicken, broccoli, peas and sundried tomatoes!

Spaghetti squash with chicken, broccoli, peas and sundried tomatoes!

Characteristics: 

A spaghetti squash ranges in color from ivory to yellow to light orange depending on the levels of beta carotene. The most amazing part of spaghetti squash is what happens when you take a fork to the inside of it! It unravels into strings, very similar to spaghetti. 

Flavor: 

Spaghetti squash is very mild - making it a great alternative to pasta - it can be dressed up with a variety of different sauces and toppings. 

Nutrition: 

1 cup of spaghetti squash contains around 42 calories. 

Recipe: Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

This spaghetti squash recipe from A Pinch of Yum is perfect for a cold fall night when you are craving a hefty bowl of pasta. It's hearty and comforting without the extra carbs and calories.

And this recipe is one I've made for my family in the past. Though they refused to say it was better than pasta, they did give it a thumbs up!  The combination of peas, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and chicken make this such a nutritious and filling meal! 

To roast a spaghetti squash cut lengthwise and scoop out the seeds before coating with olive oil and salt. Fill a baking sheet with a shallow layer of water and palce the squash cut sides down. Bake at 375 degrees for around 40 minutes or until the skin is easily pierced with a fork. 

If this is your first time attempting to scrape the flesh out of a spaghetti squash (that sounds extremely violent) check out this video

5. Delicata Squash

AKA: Sweet Potato Squash 

 My food photography has changed in the past year, thank god. Here is a bed of spinach with quinoa, roast sweet potatoes, parsnips, peppers, ions and DELICATA. 

My food photography has changed in the past year, thank god. Here is a bed of spinach with quinoa, roast sweet potatoes, parsnips, peppers, ions and DELICATA. 

Characteristics: 

This winter squash looks the most similar to a summer squash - a long, skinnier tube with a light yellow coloring. When you cut a delicata squash into "C" shapes, it has pretty scalloped edges! 

Flavor: 

The consistency of a delicata is similar to a sweet potato though its flavor is more earthy. It is creamy and soft and the skin can be eaten. 

Nutrition: 

Full of vitamin A, 1 cup is 80 calories. Bonus - it's low in carbs and high in fiber to keep you full!

Recipe: Pesto Delicata Squash Quinoa Bowl

Check out this amazing autumnal bowl by In It 4 The Long Run featuring delicata squash, pesto and quinoa. 

When I first saw delicata squash, I fell in love with how pretty the slices looked on a roasting sheet. So how do you roast a delicata? You're welcome

I must say - discovering both kabocha and delicata squash this fall has been a total game changer. I found myself grabbing pieces like they were candy - only I didn't have to worry about accidentally eating the entire tupperware! 

 So pretty, right?

So pretty, right?

A Few More Things About Squash

  • If you're looking to make a recipe that calls for pumpkin - look to buy a sugar pumpkin. These have the most classic pumpkin taste. 
  • A Sweet Dumpling Squash can be substituted for sweet potatoes or pumpkin while a Carnival Squash can be substituted for acorn or butternut squash. 
    For a super sweet squash, go with the Red Kabocha. 
  • Another fabulous thing about squash is you can easily store it for a long period of time without it going bad! Most squash are fine sitting out on your counter for well over a month! 

YOUR TURN
What's your favorite squash? 
Do you have any recipes you'd like to share? 
Do you prefer squash in sweet or savory dishes?