Potatoes And Winter Squash ~
Health Benefits & Recipes

Potatoes and winter squash are excellent staple foods for our Meats & Sweets dietary approach, especially during the cooler months when (seasonal) fruit is less plentiful.  

Potatoes and winter squash are easy to prepare in a myriad of ways ~ whether roasted, baked, mashed, steamed, or added to roasts or stews, such as this tasty, potassium-rich, low-sodium Beef And Squash Soup/Stew.  

Spaghetti squash can be used in lieu of pasta noodles, and served tossed with extra virgin olive oil or butter, crushed garlic, and fresh parsley, or with a meat sauce. 

Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Kabocha, Honeynut & Potato Squashes

Winter squashes like butternut or honeynut squash are excellent pureed into a soup; pumpkin, kabocha, or sweet dumpling squashes are a nice savory & sweet side dish, and/or prepared as desserts, such as Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars and Healthy Squash Pie.  We sometimes enjoy Breakfast Pumpkin or Squash Soufflé with leftover cooked squash.

Potatoes and winter squash have several health benefits in common, which I've outlined below.  

Health Benefits Shared By Both Potatoes
And Winter squash

The primary reason we love both potatoes and winter squash ~ nutritionally speaking ~ are because both are an excellent source of potassium, which protects against the damaging effects of dietary salt and high-sodium diets.

Despite being demonized among low-carb dietary circles, potatoes are actually the vegetable of choice in America.  Unfortunately, most people consume potatoes fried or loaded with a lot of additional sodium and fat ~ think cheese, bacon bits, salted butter, sour cream ~ negating the many health benefits of the potassium-rich spud.  

While we have also consumed very low-carb diets in the past, these days, there's no hesitation when it comes to enjoying both potatoes and winter squash ~ especially during the fall and winter.

Here are a few reasons why both make excellent staple foods on our Meats & Sweets ~ aka Meat & Fruit based diet.

Butternut Squash for Roasting
Sweet Dumpling Squash ~ baked and scooped out to use for Squash Pie, or any other recipe

Technically, winter squash is a gourd, or berry ~ classified botanically as a fruit. Culinarily speaking, it's considered a vegetable like potatoes.  

Potatoes and winter squashes are also often referred to as higher-starch vegetables, compared to a lower-starch vegetables such as broccoli, cabbages, and leafy greens.

Some of the benefits of both potatoes and winter squash include:

  • Both are a very affordable source of calories!
  • They are easy to prepare.
  • Potatoes and winter squash are excellent sources of potassium:  According to Cronometer, russets, red skin & sweet potatoes are roughly the same amount of calories.  150g of each are around 135 cals, give or take, with roughly 3g of protein, 30 or so grams of carbohydrate, and negligible fat.  The russet contains 586 mg of potassium (K), sweet potato contains 712 mg, and the red skins contain 817 mg K.  Well more than a banana!  Winter squash has similar high potassium profiles.  Comparing 200g each of acorn and butternut squashes:  Acorn has 112 total cals, 2g of protein, 29g of carbohydrates, negligible fat, and 874 mg of K.  Butternut has 80 total cals, slightly less total carb, and 568 mg of K.  
  • Potatoes and winter squash are good sources of many other nutrients, including vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, B6, and other B vitamins, plus other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Butternut squash also has around 22000 IU pre-Vitamin A, acorn has around 856 IU. (The deeper the orange color, the more beta carotene.)  The 150g sweet potato has over 28000 IU pre-Vitamin A.
  • Potatoes and winter squash are low in fat.  People believe they'll gain weight if they eat more.  Nothing could be further than the truth, that is, unless you are piling sour cream, cheese, bacon bits, and/or butter on top!  
  • Because potatoes and squash are low in fat, they are actually ideal foods to included in a weight loss diet.  Their fiber content lends them to being filling, hence if you learn how to prepare lower fat and sodium dishes, they can help control appetite and total calories consumed.
  • Potatoes and winter squash are beneficial for many health conditions, including helping maintain blood sugar balance (contrary to popular opinion), heart health (potassium is very protective against high blood pressure (HBP), hypertension, and other forms of heart disease; both can also benefit digestive health.  

Read more about the importance of getting at least 3-6 times as much potassium as sodium in my article, Salt And Health.

Basic Roasted Potatoes And Winter Squash Recipes

Potatoes can be baked whole, or roasted.  

Perfect Baked Potato:  For a fluffy tender baked russet potato, clean skins.  Pierce a few times all around with a knife or fork.  Place on a baking tray, ideally one with slits which can fit on top of a regular baking pan, like you would find in a toaster over.  Many online  recipes suggest rubbing with a little olive oil (easy to use a pastry brush) and baking at 400º.  I've had better luck baking at a lower heat for a little longer.  Bake until tender.  (Use a hot pad and give a squeeze.  They should be soft, not firm.)

Winter squash can be cut in half.  Scoop out seeds.  Bake upside down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at 350º until the skin is soft when pressing.  About 40 minutes, maybe more depending on the size of your squash.

Acorn Squash:  When nearly done baking, turn over, and add a little butter and optional teaspoon of brown sugar and pepper; or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Delicata Squash: Bake sliced or cut in half, flesh side down as above.  When nearly done baking, turn flesh side up.  These really are sweet as they are, but can be jazzed up with a drizzle of orange juice concentrate (or orange juice) combined with honey and a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper.

Kabocha or Buttercup Squash:  These are so good, we enjoy them plain!

Butternut Squash:  Peel and cut into 2 inch chunks, and roast with apple.  Add a tiny bit of apple cider to baking dish, and bake covered at 350º as above.  Or, cook butternut squash with apple in a pot with a couple inches of water.  Season with sweet curry powder or ginger.  Puree when soft, adding a little half and half, whole milk or cream as desired.

Roasted Potato Medleys

Combine different potato varieties for a nice blend of textures and flavors.  Sweet potatoes (or try purple potatoes) roasted with russets, and/or Yukon gold or red skin potatoes can be tossed with XVOO, pepper, and rosemary, then roasted covered at 350º for about 1 hour.  

Covering potatoes while roasting helps them stay soft and moist.  If you like them crispier, roast uncovered for the last 15 minutes.

Combine potatoes with other vegetables and seasonings for variety:

  • Potatoes, Carrots and Onion tossed with XVOO, pepper, dried parsley, and oregano, or a pinch of coriander
  • Root Vegetable Medley:  Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Parsnips and Carrots (shown before roasting, above right):  Julienne cut vegetables for a pretty presentation.  Toss with XVOO and a little balsamic vinegar, rosemary, dried parsley and/or basil and pepper.  Cover and roast as above.  Add sliced red or sweet onion if desired.

Healthy Potato Chips:  Thin slice russets and onion and toss with XVOO, pepper, onion powder, and a bit of smoked paprika &/or cumin for a healthy alternative to potato chips.  

Or cut into wedges for baked fries.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.