Vegetables are a staple on the keto diet.
Not only are they loaded with nutrients, but they’re also low in calories and can fill you up. But as important as vegetables are on the ketogenic diet, not all of them are necessarily keto-friendly.
In fact, there are plenty of veggies out there that have more carbs than you might think. Eating high quantities of these vegetables can be a detriment to your keto lifestyle.
But out of all the different types of veggies out there, how does squash stack up? Is it keto-friendly? Or should you include this veggie in the “do not eat” category?
Read on to find out more about the role of squash in the keto diet, as well as some keto-friendly squash recipes to enjoy.
What is Squash?
Despite the fact that most people refer to squash as a vegetable, it’s actually technically a fruit.
There are all sorts of different varieties of squash which are categorized as either summer or winter squash.
Some summer varieties include:
- Zucchini – 3.1g carbs per 100g serving
- Zephyr – 3.4g carbs per 100g serving
- Cousa – 3.4g carbs per 100g serving
Winter varieties are much more well known and abundant, and include:
- Acorn – 10g carbs per 100g serving
- Butternut – 12g carbs per 100g serving
- Delicata – 10g carbs per 100g serving
- Hubbard – 8g carbs per 100g serving
- Kabocha – 7g carbs per 100g serving
- Pumpkin – 6g carbs per 100g serving
- Spaghetti – 6g carbs per 100g serving
- Sweet dumpling – 6g carbs per 100g serving
- Turban – 6g carbs per 100g serving
Is Squash Keto-Friendly?
As you’ve probably noticed, the winter squash varieties are higher in carbs than the summer varieties.
Odds are, the only summer squash you’ll likely eat – or even find in your local grocery store – is zucchini.
All winter squash have at least twice the carb content as zucchini.
While there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy any one of the above-mentioned types of squash, you’ll want to keep in mind the type of squash you’re eating and the quantity you’re consuming in order to make sure you keep your carb intake to a minimum.
If you like to pile on the veggies, you may want to stick with zucchini. T
hat said, you can still include other types of squash in your diet as long as you keep tabs in the quantity you’re eating relative to the carb content.
Keto-Friendly Squash Recipes
While you can always just steam your squash and add a few spices, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy squash while still keeping your carb intake to a minimum.
Here are a few recipes you may want to try that include different types of squash and are appropriate for a ketogenic lifestyle.
1. “Spaghetti” Alla Bolognese
Who says you can’t enjoy a heaping bowl full of spaghetti while on the keto diet?
Well, you can’t exactly indulge in traditional pasta, but you can mimic this classic carb-heavy dish by swapping the actual pasta with spaghetti squash.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 package ground beef
- 1 jar low-carb tomato sauce
- Parmesan cheese
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash with a fork, then put it in the microwave for 5 minutes to soften it and make it easier to cut.
Slice the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and baste it with the olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. With a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash to create stringy spaghetti.
In a separate skillet, fry the ground beef until browned, then add the tomato sauce and mix.
Pour the spaghetti squash into a serving dish, then add the meat sauce over top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if you like.
2. Zucchini Spirals
This recipe requires a spiralizer.
If you don’t already have one, this is a great tool to have handy in the kitchen, as you can essentially make spaghetti out of just about any type of veggie for an awesome low-carb alternative!
- 2 spiralized zucchini
- 1 diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 chopped yellow onion
- Handful of spinach
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Spiralize the zucchini, then set aside.
In a skillet on medium high heat, heat up the olive oil, then add the red pepper.
After about 5 minutes, add the onion and zucchini and continue to stir for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the veggies are lightly browned.
Add the spinach and stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Butternut Squash Soup
This keto-friendly soup recipe is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day.
- 2 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 4 cup chicken broth
- 12 oz coconut milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Baste the butternut squash halves with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then bake for about 45 minutes.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat up the rest of the olive oil, then add the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the broth and coconut milk.
Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the squash into the pot mixture, then add it all to a blender and puree until smooth.
4. Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte
While everyone else is indulging in sugar-laden pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks this winter, you can enjoy your own version, but with far fewer carbs and no sugar.
- 3 cups brewed coffee
- 1 cup full-fat milk
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 tbsp organic pureed pumpkin
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp stevia
Mix the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, butter, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and stevia with a whisk or hand mixer.
Warm up the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. In a blender, mix the pumpkin spice base, coffee, and warmed milk for about 30 seconds to make it frothy.
Serve in a mug with or without sugar-free whipped cream.
Certain types of squash can be relatively starchy and have higher levels of carbs than other lower-carb veggie options.
That said, as long as you keep your quantity to a minimum, there’s little reason why you can’t include it in your keto diet.
And when you add it to certain low-carb recipes, you can enjoy your summer or winter squash and still be under your daily carb limit.