[Article updated on 19/09/2023]
When you want to lose weight, stabilize or simply balance your diet, it is important to consume enough vegetables. After the summer season when there was a large variety of vegetables, it is sometimes difficult at the start of winter to be able to cover your vegetable needs. Squashes, thanks to their diversity and their virtues, can help you.
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
Find a squash you like?
Round, elongated, cylindrical, orange, yellow, green, white, striped, spotted, small, medium or large, squash are very varied in shape, color and taste. In the Cucurbitaceae family, it is necessary to differentiate between summer squash and winter squash.
Winter squashes have the characteristic of being able to be stored for a very long time (several months) but, be careful, they are only eaten cooked.
Conversely, summer squash (like zucchini or squash) have a fairly thin skin and they can be eaten raw or cooked, however they keep for a shorter time, only a few weeks.
Let’s find out together how to recognize the most famous edible winter squashes and how to prepare them:
- spaghetti squash: yellow in color and oval in shape, its flesh transforms into filaments that you simply scrape off after cooking. You can easily create a trompe l’oeil for your children who will have the impression of eating spaghetti!
- butternut squash: its beige skin, orange flesh and slight nutty taste allow it to be cooked in different forms: in soup, in gratin, and why not in soufflé…
- pumpkin: this large orange squash on the outside and inside is ideal for soups and purees.
- pumpkin: pear-shaped and orange in color. Its firm flesh leaves a slight taste of chestnut on the finish.
- butternut squash from Provence: green on the outside and orange on the inside, this squash has a slightly sweet taste. It can be cooked classically in soup or gratin but it can also be used in cakes.
- Baby boo squash: looks like a mini white pumpkin that can be easily stuffed.
- the giraumon squash: of particular shape and multicolored, it resembles a squash that would have grown in a pumpkin. She is nicknamed “the turban pumpkin”.
- acorn squash: green on the outside and orange on the inside, it has a pod shape and owes its name to its slight peppery taste.
- Siam squash: on the outside, it looks like a watermelon and on the inside, it has white flesh which, like spaghetti squash, comes off in filaments.
- pumpkin: orange from skin to flesh, this squash is probably the best known. It is particularly used at Halloween to decorate houses. It is especially very good in soup, fried or in pie.
Be careful, however, not all squash are edible. In fact, ornamental squash or colocynths cannot be eaten. If poisoned, they can cause digestive problems. When tasting, a bitter taste should alert you!
See that the diversity of its vegetables is important. You will certainly find one to your liking. So get cooking and don’t hesitate to include them in your menus to balance your meals!
Why eat squash?
The ultimate fall vegetable, squash is good for your health.
Apart from the very tough skin that is generally not eaten in winter squash, their flesh and seeds can be eaten and contain many nutritional benefits.
Indeed, pumpkin seeds are rich in proteins, phytosterols (a substance helping to reduce bad cholesterol levels), vitamin E (anti-oxidant), zinc (helping to stimulate the immune system) and unsaturated fatty acids. essential (linoleic acid). They also help fight against prostate disorders in cases of benign hypertrophy.
With its seeds, you can also make pumpkin seed oil. It is a very healthy oil that should only be consumed raw (it should not be heated). Its nutritional composition gives it benefits particularly at the cardiovascular, digestive, urinary and prostate levels.
The cooked squash flesh is low in calories: on average it provides 30kcal per 100g. It is made up of more than 92% water. It also has a low carbohydrate load.
It also contains many minerals and trace elements such as:
- iron (0.2 mg per 100g);
- magnesium (7mg per 100g)
- potassium (230mg per 100g)
- calcium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc…
It is also very rich in vitamin A (beta-carotene) with 6000μg per 100g. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for the skin and vision and contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system.
The flesh also contains vitamins B2, B5, B6, B9, C and K.
All these contributions are useful for stimulating your immune defenses and limiting your deficiencies.
Squash also contains two pigments: luteins and zeaxanthin which have the effect of protecting our eyes. Indeed, they help filter blue light, neutralize free radicals from the sun’s rays and protect against Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Finally, squash are rich in fiber (2g per 100g) which can facilitate your intestinal transit.
How to store them?
You should not store whole squash in the refrigerator. In fact, they deteriorate quickly because this environment is too humid for them.
At room temperature, they will keep for 1 to 3 months. To increase their shelf life, it is possible to keep them in a cool place (10 to 12°C).
Be aware that as it is stored, the vitamin content of the flesh increases and so does the sugar content.
Furthermore, it is also possible to freeze them. I recommend cutting them into pieces before putting them in the freezer.
In conclusion, squash is part of a balanced diet and can help you regain or stabilize your weight. It would be a shame to deprive yourself of it!