Friday, February 5, 2010

Butternut Squash on a low-carb diet??

Hi All! I know most of you probably already know how to cook a butternut squash (just in case.. recipe follows). But the point of this post is options/ideas and portion control. And, can one EAT butternut squash (oh so healthy and delicious) on a low carb diet? I believe you can, once you are maintaining (maybe not at the beginning) if you use portion control and eat with a low carb meal.

Butternut squash is so delicious, and is one thing I usually eat when my Hubby has to have potatoes (all the low carb/gluten free cooking doesn't bother him, but he misses his potatoes! Must be the Irish in him). It's inexpensive, and easy to cook. Really what you have to watch out for is portions. One cup of butternut squash weighs in at 18.4 net carbs. I suggest 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup as a side dish of a low carb meal.

From It is a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese. Yellow/Orange foods are a great source of anti-oxidants too. I looked up the G.I. and it came in at 75, which worried me a little until I read this, and I agree:

Have you done a GI study on winter squashes (pumpkins) such as hubbard, acorn, butternut etc? There’s only been one published result for winter squash (it is listed as pumpkin) and it had a high GI (75). The actual variety tested isn’t given. But a typical serving of say 80 grams cooked winter squash is only going to have around 5–6 grams of carbohydrate, so the glycemic load will be quite low. That’s why we classify these healthy vegetables like winter squash and swedes etc. as ‘everyday caution with portion foods’ as we want people to eat plenty of vegetables (at least five servings a day) on a low GI diet. It’s only the starchy, carb-rich potato with a high GI that we suggest people cut back on.

So, decide for yourself. This squash I had looks to be a normal size (they were all about the same at the market). I didn't slice it in half evenly, so when I measured the bigger half, it was more than 1/2 cup. Please measure your at least once so you can learn to eyeball how many carbs are in a portion. I ate this with a small stuffed pepper (recipe will be in my cookbook!), and green beans. Really, I couldn't even eat my 1/2 cup. So try 1/4 cup!

Roasted Butternut Squash

one butternut squash
2 Tablespoons of butter, or olive oil
sea salt
optional: sprinkle of cinnamon & nutmeg

Slice your squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out with a spoon the seeds and strings. Place both halves in a baking dish (now you get to see what we call "the bucket" around here, in the photo!) face down with 1/4" water and pin prick a few holes with fork all over.

Bake at 375˚ for about 20 minutes or until soft. Flip the squash halves over in the dish. Make sure there is still 1/4" of water, you will probably have to add more. Put a tablespoon of butter or oil on each half. I usually put it in the hole where the seeds where, then use a pastry brush to brush a little over the rest after it melts a little. Sprinkle a little sea salt and bake again for about 5- 10 minutes. At this point you can measure out your portion. If you wish, you may sprinkle cinnamon (one little sprinkle) and nutmeg (hardly a sprinkle!) and mix in. I don't do this very often, but sometimes it's nice.


  1. Hi there,
    I am learning to cook low carb to drop some weight.. we Bought a butternut squash and did not know where to start if i could eat it , or the portions that were allowed..

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  3. You need to test your response and see how you do. My mom has type 2 diabetes, and had a terrible response to a small baked sweet potato (one tablespoon butter) with her blood glucose skyrocketing to over 350. But about the same size butternut squash portion (about half a small squash with one tablespoon butter) only raised her blood glucose slightly to about 125. Adding meat would probably reduce it even more.


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