For those following a paleo or grain free diet, finding sources of carbs can be a challenge with many of the obvious sources – bread, pasta, and in some cases potatoes – off limits. It seems like sweet potatoes dominate the carbohydrate choices of many paleo dieters, sometimes to the exclusion of other sources with equal nutrients. I won’t go into white potatoes, because I have already come to their defense before, but if you’re tired of sweet potatoes, let’s talk about squash.
Types of Squash
There are many types of squash, but since it’s winter we’ll talk winter squash, of which there are 12 varieties including:
- Butternut squash
- Spaghetti squash
- Buttercup squash
- Acorn squash
Butternut and acorn squash happen to be my two favorites. For more on the 12 types of winter squash – including pictures of what they look like and recipes – visit Epicurious.
Benefits of Squash
Squash contains some of the same nutrients in sweet potatoes while offering variety in terms of taste. These nutrients include carbohydrates, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Nutrient information about a few types of squash is below.
Butternut Squash – A cup of cubed, baked butternut squash contains 82 calories, 21 grams of carbs, 84 mg of calcium (you need 1000 mg/day), 582 mg of potassium (over 3 times as much as a banana), 31 mg of vitamin C (about 1/3 – 1/2 the average person’s daily needs), and over a day’s worth of vitamin A. Butternut squash would be a great addition to a post workout meal because of the carbohydrates to replace lost glycogen and the electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat.
Spaghetti Squash – A cup of spaghetti squash contains 40 calories, 10 grams of carbs and 181 mg of potassium (about as much as in a serving of Gatorade). Spaghetti squash is a great, low carb replacement for traditional pasta.
Acorn Squash – One cup of cubed, baked acorn squash contains 115 calories, 30 grams of carbs, 890 mg of potassium, 22 mg of vitamin C (about 1/4 of the average person’s daily needs), and 88 mg of magnesium (about 20% of daily needs). Acorn squash is also a great addition to a post workout meal.
Here I’ve highlighted the three types of squash I most commonly find in the grocery store, but all 12 varieties of winter squash have their merits.
How To Use Squash
My favorite uses for butternut squash are in soup, and as noodles in a paleo lasagne. I am also a fan of paleo spaghetti using spaghetti squash. My go-to recipes are linked below. Have a favorite? Share in the comments!
Butternut Squash Lasagna – Some of the pictures don’t work, but this recipe is a delicious way to satisfy that Italian food craving.
Paleo Spaghetti – speaking of Italian food, this is a great way to make meat sauce and meatballs on a healthy “pasta.”
Butternut Squash Soup – always great on a cold night!
Stuffed Delicata – as a bonus, this recipe for stuffed delicata squash sent by former member Kelly Alice (KA) when I was first trying out paleo.