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Winter Squash – Butternut, Acorn and Kabocha

Winter Squash finds it way to my dinner table on a regular basis. This versatile vegetable lends itself to savory or sweet additions. Add it to soup or a pasta dish or keep it simple and oven roast slices of squash for a filling side dish. I have been known to snack on reheated oven roasted squash or even eat a few slices for breakfast!

This comfort food is an excellent source of fiber and complex carbohydrates as well as vitamin A and C. I keep an assortment of squash on hand all winter long. There are usually 4-5 squash in a huge white bowl on my kitchen island. I happen to have 6 of them for this photo! Starting in the upper left corner is a butternut squash, top center is a kabocha, top right corner is another butternut squash, then the orange one is a different variety of kabocha and the two lower left are acorn squash.


 

How To Buy Winter Squash

Avoid squash with cuts or punctures in the skin. Choose squash that are heavy for their size. Variations in the skin color do not affect the flavor.

How To Store

Store whole squash in a cool dry place for 1 to 2 months. You may store longer if you have a  dry,cool, dark storage place like a basement.

Once cut, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate and use within 5 days.

Once cooked, refrigerate and use within 4 days, or freeze cooked squash in air tight containers for up to one year.

How To Cook

Winter squash can be boiled, steamed, oven roasted, baked or microwaved.

How To Prepare for Cooking

Wash and scrub using a vegetable brush, cut in half, remove seeds, cut into slices if desired. Some varieties may be peeled and diced before cooking.

Hint: To make cutting easier I pierce the skin all over with a sharp knife, then place on a layer of paper towels in the microwave and cook on high for 3-5 minutes. Remove from microwave with hot pads, let cool until easy to handle. Place squash on a non sliding cutting board, grasp firmly with one hand and using a large sharp knife cut through to the center, turn over and cut the other side until squash comes apart.

How to Microwave

Place halves or quarters face down in a dish, add 1/4 cup water, cover tightly with plastic wrap, microwave 6 minutes per pound.

Nutritional Information

I can’t find reliable information for the kabocha squash.

The USDA lists winter squash as a 1 cup serving.

Acorn Squash 1 cup, 115 calories, .29g fat, 2.3g protein, 29.89g carbohydrates, 9.9g fiber

Butternut Squash 1 cup, 82 calories, .18g fat, 1.84g protein, 21.5g carbohydrates, 6.6g fiber

 

 

OVEN ROASTED KABOCHA SQUASH

Ka-BOH-cha. This squash is a less common winter squash but I did find some in a regular grocery store this year. Whole Foods, Asian markets and the Farmer’s Market usually have them. It has become my favorite winter squash. It is dense, filling and sweet all on it’s own. It taste like a sweet potato combined with a pumpkin! Scrumptious!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub the flesh well with a vegetable brush. No need to peel this one.

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, slice into 1 -1 1/2 inch thick slices.

Hint: If hubby Tom is home I have him cut the squash for me. One day he wasn’t here so I had to find a way to cut a huge squash myself. To make cutting easier I pierced the skin all over with a sharp knife, then placed the squash on a layer of paper towels in the microwave and cooked on high for about 5 minutes. Remove from microwave with hot pads, let cool until easy to handle. Place squash on a non sliding cutting board, grasp firmly with one hand and using a large sharp knife cut through to the center, turn over and cut the other side until squash comes apart. Easy!

Cover a baking sheet with foil, (enjoy an easy clean up) spray the squash with olive oil spray or use olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes or until tender. You can turn the slices over after 15 minutes to brown both sides if desired. Use as a side dish with any meat entree or it makes a hearty, filling vegetarian meal with a salad and some fruit. Refrigerate the leftovers and reheat gently in a microwave oven.

As it roasts in the oven the outer skin softens up and becomes tender enough to eat. This squash is sweet all on it’s own and is quite dense almost like a sweet potato. These two varieties of kabocha are very similar in texture and taste.

BAKED ACORN SQUASH

Acorn squash are more common and can be found in most all grocery stores. You might find green or golden ones that are all orange. These are less sweet than other winter squash. They are the perfect shape to be stuffed with a ground meat and rice mixture or cooked greens and grains for an entree. I like them as a side dish drizzled with a little Agave Nectar. Warm and comforting!

Pre -heat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the squash well,then cut in half (the long way) remove the seeds, spray with olive oil spray, season with salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with foil sprayed with non stick cooking spray, place squash cut sides down for the first 20-25 minutes. Turn squash over, if desired add a teaspoon of butter to each half and bake another 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender and completely cooked, it depends on how big it is as to how long to bake.

To serve drizzle with Agave Nectar, Maple syrup or sprinkle with a teaspoon of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg. I like to eat it with a spoon so I can scoop out all of the good stuff! Go ahead and roast 2 or 3 of these since you have the oven going. Cool completely, wrap with plastic wrap or put in tupperware and store in the refrigerator. They reheat in quickly in the microwave and make for a nice snack or a quick side dish later in the week.

 

 

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

This is also a very common squash that can be found in the grocery store. It can be cut in half and prepared like the acorn squash.( See my hint above for easy cutting.) When it is done cooking  you can let it cool slightly and then using a large spoon remove the cooked squash to a bowl and mash it with a little maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste. Some people like to add a little butter but I don’t usually do that.

I have found that if time allows I prefer to remove the peel and oven roast cubes of butternut squash. The oven roasting allows the natural sugars in the squash to come out and caramelize and the flavor is sweeter, I also prefer the texture of the squash when it is prepared this way. It is a little more work because you have to get that tough peel off. You can use a sharp knife if you are skilled at doing so and don’t have to worry about slipping and cutting yourself. Or if you are more like me you might want to get a good vegetable peeler for this job. I have found the type of peeler shown below to be the most affective for this job. This is a vegetable peeler made by Kitchenaid. This peeler allows you to get a firm grip and pull with some force the full length of the squash. It works great!

Once you have the butternut squash peeled, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and dice into even pieces. At this point the squash is ready to use in soups or ready to oven roast. To oven roast, preheat the oven to 425°. Cover a baking sheet with foil, spray with olive oil spray, season squash with salt and pepper, spread it out on baking sheet and oven roast for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Stir once half way through baking time. Shown below is the butternut squash cubed and ready to cook. It’s so pretty.

 

Nutmeg Notes

If you are following the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus plan one cup of baked winter squash is 0 points!

I am going to be trying a new recipe using oven roasted butternut squash today. If it turns out well there will be a post about it.

I have been eating a lot of low calorie squash, root vegetables and fruit to bulk up my meals with out adding lots of calories.

Blessings,

Tami

Add Your Thoughts

What foods are you eating that help keep you feeling full with out adding a lot of calories?

 

 


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18 comments

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  1. Dr. J says:

    I’ve been having Butternut squash over the past several days! Made it in the oven with ginger, cranberries, and walnuts, in the microwave, and even in a salad after cooking.

    1. Tami says:

      Sounds delicious Dr J. I get a salad at California Pizza Kitchen that has roasted butternut squash in it and roasted beets-so yummy!

  2. Sharon says:

    Another delightful variety is Delicata Squash. Tish introduced me to it when at her house last October and we have it about once a week now. It’s one variety that can be eaten, peel and all! We slice it in half, bake and drizzle with a mixture of brown sugar, butter, etc. It is yummy! Not as easy to find as some of the others, but I’ve gotten it at Earth Fare (our subsidiary owned by Whole Foods) consistently.

    The farmer’s market near our house in Florida had all these varieties for .69/lb. That’s less than half of what I’d been paying at home. Needless to say, I came back well-stocked! Pass on any recipes you find although I’m not sure the plain, roasted flavors can be improved upon!!

    1. Tami says:

      Sharon I will have to look for the Delicato squash. It makes things so much easier if you can eat the whole thing!

  3. fittingbackin says:

    Wonderful post! I cook with squash – but only for Austin. Unfortunately, I sometimes just can’t eat squash. It’s like I have this mental block and I just can’t do it!! I eat cheese to stay full – or eggs. Eggs fill me up SO much!

  4. Karen says:

    I’m not a big squash fan but remember acorn squash with brown sugar from my childhood. This post reminds me I have a spaghetti squash that I should cook today.

  5. Leslie says:

    I’ve been enjoying a lot of winter squash too, Tami. And having just started Points Plus, I’m delighted that squash has zero points on its own.

    I’ve really gotten on a spaghetti squash kick – have been eating it plain, though it’s great as a pasta substitute, and I like the texture a lot better than pasta.

  6. LAF says:

    Great pictures Tami!

  7. Biz says:

    Duh! I never thought to use a vegetable peeler for my butternut squash! I usually just bake it with the skin on and scoop it out of the shell, but I feel like I lose some of it – thanks for the idea! :D

    1. Tami says:

      You are welcome! If you want to use butternut squash in soup, salads or in casseroles you have to peel it first. You need a really good sharp peeler for this!

  8. Ellen@fatgirlwearingthin says:

    Thank you Tami! I have been eating spaghetti squash for weeks and have wanted to try some of the others but didn’t really know what to do with them. Much appreciated :)

  9. Jody - Fit at 53 says:

    You are an amazing cook Tami! Love all you do here & the beautiful pics!

    Mentioning your comment from my Thursday post on my post Friday!

    1. Tami says:

      I will stop by and check out your post. Now I am wondering what I said – short term memory!

  10. Carol says:

    Love acorn squashed baked with dried cranberries, dried apricots, diced onion and a sprinkle of brown sugar and salt & pepper. I want to try one with a meat or barley stuffing.
    Great photos!

    Eggs stick with me the longest of any food!

    1. Tami says:

      Carol that sounds so good, love all those ingredients together.

  11. Joanie says:

    After 25 years of successfully making rice in a pan on the stove, we purchased an
    induction rice cooker and are using it for more than just rice.
    I add a large slice of washed and unpeeled Kabocha squash to my induction rice cooker
    and it comes out gloriously tender. You can eat the skin. Super delicious with brown rice.

  12. Anna says:

    Does anyone have any info regarding kabocha calories?

    1. Tami says:

      I wasn’t able to find any nutritional information for it but it has to be about the same as butternut or other winter squash.

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