Over the past few months, I’ve started incorporating a bit more carbs into my daily regimen (read this post if you’re confused about why I’m incorporating more carbs..but wait till after you finish reading this one 😆). These carbs have been coming mainly from sweet potatoes, different varieties of squash, and fruit.
I was browsing through the squash section of the grocery store one day and came across this green pumpkin-looking thing (which I later discovered, thanks to Mr. Google, that it was called kabocha squash or ‘Japanese pumpkin’) and I decided to give it a try.
I roasted it in the oven with some salt and when I tasted it, I was blown away. Seriously, it was THAT good. It tasted like a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato with a sweeter, slightly nuttier flavor.
So, I decided to do a bit more digging on this new-found love and discovered some pretty cool facts about it.
Kabocha Squash is a Japanese variety of winter squash that’s rich in nutrients like beta carotene, iron, vitamins A & C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, and five B-complex vitamins, including B1, B3, B6, pantothenic acid, and folate.
Not only is it packed with nutrients, but kabocha is actually lower in carbs compared to other winter squash varieties which makes it a perfect keto-friendly option.
For example, a 1/2 cup (~123 grams) of cooked kabocha has only 6 grams of carbs compared to the same amount of butternut squash which has about 13 grams of carbs.
Kabocha has even been named a ‘superfood’ in certain cultures due to its high levels of carotenoids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
In addition to the variety of nutrients that kabocha has to offer, there are a few other reasons why I’m personally in LOVE with this delicious superfood:
The flavor is out of this world
If you prepare it properly (see below), it has a very nutty, sweet, distinct flavor that I’ve never experienced from any other squash.
Low blood sugar response
I’ve tested my blood sugar after consuming kabocha and had no adverse response. Remember though, always pair your carbs with a protein and/or fat source. No naked carbs!
Great replacement for sweet potatoes
If you love sweet potatoes (like I do), kabocha is a perfect alternative due to its sweet taste and even lower carb count!
Kabocha can be prepared in a variety of different ways depending on what you’re in the mood for (see my two favorites below).
No peeling or waste
The skin of the kabocha is 100% edible. Once cooked, the skin becomes super tender and it’s also packed with fiber and nutrients.
Kabocha is grown year-round, but they are best in the late summer to fall months. Just like an avocado or a banana, you want to make sure you're not getting a kabocha squash that is underripe. If you do, it will NOT taste like what I described above. Instead, it will taste bitter and not sweet at all.
Here's what to look for:
When you cut it open, the perfect squash will be dry, flaky, and have a deep orange color. The underripe, bitter squash will be watery and pale.
Trust me, you'll know the difference once you cook and taste a ripe vs. underripe kabocha. I've gotten some underripe ones before and although they're still edible, they just don't do the ripe kabocha justice.
Here’s my go-to method for preparing kabocha (step-by-step pictures are below the steps):
First things first, ALWAYS eat carbs with a fat and/or protein source to help slow digestion/minimize blood sugar and insulin spike...NO naked carbs!
Okay, now that we got that out of the way...here are my top two favorite kabocha combinations: