Squash: What It Is And How To Eat More

CoachMel Healthy Eating 18 Comments

I think squash is pretty underrated.

It may have something to do with the weird and wonderful shapes they come in, I suppose they do look a little odd. But, I think they deserve more attention.

If you haven’t tried squash, it has a really great taste, and it’s actually very versatile and easy to use.

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So, is it a vegetable or a fruit? Most people would say squash is a vegetable, after all they are found in the vegetable section at the grocery store, right?

However, because they contain the seeds, they are actually a fruit. And, like tomato, they can be used as a vegetable when cooking.

Summer Squash

Summer squash is less mature, and smaller in size, with thin, edible skins and soft seeds. They include:

Crookneck — yellow skin (sometimes green), with white flesh.


Image source

Straightneck — yellow/orange skin, with white flesh.


Zucchini — smooth green or yellow skin, with white flesh.


Image source

Pattypan — small in size, with pale green or yellow skin, and creamy white flesh.


Image source

Other varieties of summer squashes include:

  • Cousa squash
  • Yellow summer squash

Summer squash nutrients

Summer squash is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C. It is also a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, dietary fibre, potassium, copper, folate, and phosphorus, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, calcium, zinc, niacin, and protein.

How to cook summer squash

Summer squash have a pretty high water content, which means dry-heat methods of cooking are best — think stir-frying, grilling or sautéing.

Winter Squash

Winter squash are larger, and have hard, thick skins and seeds. They also tend to keep for longer. They include:

Acorn — green skin, speckled with orange patches, the flesh is orange.

acornImage source

Turban — green or red skin, speckled or striped, with orange flesh.


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Pumpkin — orange skin, with orange flesh.


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Hubbard — dark green, grey or orange in colour, with orange flesh.

Hubbard-SquashImage source

Other varieties of winter squash include:

  • Acorn squash
  • Amber squash
  • Ambercup squash
  • Arikara squash
  • Atlantic Giant
  • Autumn cup squash
  • Banana squash
  • Buttercup squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Calabaza
  • Carnival squash
  • Cushaw (also called “winter crookneck squash”)
  • Delicata squash
  • Gem squash
  • Georgia candy roaster
  • Giraumon
  • Gold nugget squash (also called “golden nugget squash”)
  • Heart of gold squash
  • Hubbard squash
  • Jarrahdale pumpkin
  • Kabocha
  • Lakota squash
  • Long Island cheese squash
  • Marina di Chioggia
  • Mooregold squash
  • Queensland blue pumpkin
  • Red kuri squash
  • Rouge vif d’Estampes
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Sugar loaf squash
  • Sweet dumpling squash
  • Turban squash

Wow, that’s a lot of squash!

Winter squash nutrients

Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A. It is also a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fibre, manganese, and a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper.

How to cook winter squash

The flesh of winter squash is much harder, and so needs a bit longer to cook. Unlike the skin of summer squash, the skin of winter squash isn’t edible, so you’ll need to peal it.

Personally, I think the best way to cook winter squash is to roast, but steamed or boiled can work very well too.

Squash Recipe Ideas

Okay, so now you know what to look for at the grocery store, what are you supposed to do with this fab vegetable?

Here are a few ideas for adding squash to your menu plan:

  • Grate zucchini over the top of salads, pasta dishes or sandwiches.
  • Serve raw crudities of summer squash with your favorite dip, such as hummus or avocado dip.
  • Grate, or chop finely, then add to your favorite muffin recipe — you’ll need to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by around 1/3.
  • Cook winter squash, then purée, and add a little spice with a dash of cinnamon.
  • Steam cubes of winter squash, and serve with an olive oil and ginger dressing.
  • Add cubes of winter squash to your favorite vegetable soup, curry, stir-fry, stew recipe.
  • Cook a few different varieties of squash together for a delicious, colorful side dish.
  • Experiment with seasoning — dill, lemon juice, chili powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic.
  • Marinate and grill for a completely different taste.
  • Substitute grated summer squash in place of carrots in a carrot cake recipe.

Spiced Glazed Squash

Serves 8 (as side dish)
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 35 minutes

1kg butternut squash, or pumpkin
25g butter
olive oil
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
½ tbsp caster sugar
½ lemon


  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Halve the squash, scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Cut into slices about 2cm thick at the thickest part. (If you are using a long butternut squash, you can halve it horizontally as well as lengthways before cutting the wedges, otherwise you will have very long slices.)
  2. Put the butter in a small saucepan and heat gently. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, the cinnamon and ginger. Put the wedges of squash into a roasting tin and pour the spicy mixture over them, using your hands to make sure the squash gets well-coated. Season and sprinkle with the sugar.
  3. Roast for 35 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized. While the squash is cooking, baste every so often with the spice mixture. Arrange on a serving dish, and squeeze the lemon over.

Recipe source

If you have a fab recipe for squash, or you simply want to discuss how wonderful this vegetable is, please share it in the comments below…

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Comments 18

    1. Melanie

      No, neither did I, lol. It’s pretty amazing. I would have a job finding them though in my local store, there’s certainly not this variety.

  1. Kylie

    Hi Mel, that’s a great article about squash (or pumpkins as Australians’s tend to call them). As a dietitian I often recommend introducing these types of foods to fussy kids who won’t eat vegetables. Mashing them with potato can be a way to get kids to try something new.
    .-= Kylie´s last blog ..Top 3 drinks that make you fat =-.

    1. Melanie

      Hi Kylie,
      That’s a great tip, thanks for sharing. I think kids veg like this due to the sweetness, so it’s a good way to introduce them to more variety.

  2. Troy

    Hi Mel,

    So when a squash is not cooked it is a fruit but when cooked it becomes a vegetable? i think i’ll cook mine helps get to my 5 servings a day and i can easily get my 2 pieces of fruit anyway…


    1. Melanie

      Hi Troy,
      I think it’s more that it can be used as you would do with a vegetable, i.e. in place of broccoli, etc, but it’s technically still a fruit. That said, I would just count it towards one of your portions of vegetables.

  3. Michael Westberg

    I love summer squash, crookneck especially. I eat it like 5 times a week. As for the concept of vegetable versus fruit. You’re absolutely correct in that it contains its seeds and ergo a fruit, in a botanical sense. While in a culinary sense it is considered a vegetable beacause of its cooking purposes in savory dishes while fruit are categorized as sweet in culinary terms. Did you know the US Supreme Court ruled on whether tomato was a vegetable or fruit? Legally its a vegetable in culinary terms! It’s all syntax in my honest opinion, delicious syntax.

  4. TheGourmetCoffeeGuy

    In our home, we consume many vegetables. Squash varieties are always in the list. However, I have to say your list of Winter Squash is very impressive: have not seen many of them for sale in our area, perhaps not looking for them and overlooked. Your post has motivated us to make a list of some of these varieties, look for them and taste them. Quite sure many will become favorites. Thank you for sharing.

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