Kabocha, the Japanese pumpkin, not to be confused with Kabota, the Japanese tractor company :). I happen to LOVE squash, especially now when there’s a bite in the air here in New England and we are getting ready for fall and winter. Time for comfort foods…but how in the hell do we do comfort foods on low-carb? With the Kabocha, it just got a little easier!
The Kabocha is packed with micro nutrients – especially high in Vitamin A as well as C, some B vitamins, iron, and calcium. The skin is edible and packed with fiber, the ‘meat’ soft like a butternut but bright orange and sweet like a sweet potato. It’s low water so when roasted, it doesn’t get all runny and crap like traditional squashes. But, the beauty of Kabocha over it’s cousins is LOW CALORIE AND LOW CARB! Seriously! Now, the nutritional info on this appears to be all over the map, but general consensus puts the calories at about 60 per 100g (about 1 cup) with carbs being 7, fiber being 1 for a net of 6 (not including the skin which is all fiber carbs). Compare that to butternut at 16g of carbs or sweet potato at 28, and you can see why I love this stuff.
Picking out kabocha at the store can be a little difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You will normally find it in the same bin as butterCUP squash, they look similar but are two completely different animals. I’ve even seen kabocha with a ‘buttercup’ sticker and ‘buttercup’ with a kabocha sticker, so if you learn the visual cues, you can get the right one every time.
Buttercup has a traditional stem, smaller and softer. It has a raised, knobby base, sometimes multi-level ‘button’ on the bottom. You don’t want those. Nope. You want to get the ones with this big, knarly stem at the top that looks more like tree branch than a squash stem, and the button on the bottom is small or non-existent. If the button is big, raised in a couple of levels, or not smooth at all, pass on it. That’s a buttercup and not kabocha.
A 2lb kabocha will yield about 4 cups cooked meat, including skin, perfect for feeding a family of 4. Most kabochas that I find are in the 1.75-2.25lb range. If you can find ones about the size of a softball, those are PERFECT for the low-carber to have as they are about 100g (1 cup) of squash and only 6 net carbs! You cook kabocha just like you would any other squash, but because of its sweeter meat, you have more options – cinnamon and butter makes a nice, sweet side dish for roasted pork, or salt and pepper it to go with chicken or turkey. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is as a chili bowl, filling the cavity where the seeds lived with homemade, low-carb chili. You can cube and roast it, slice and roast it, or just cut it in half, flip upside down on a baking sheet, and bake for about 45-1 hour or until it is soft when pushing on the skin. Roast up one up, when it’s cooled, break it up into 1/2 cup servings, freeze, and you have a great base to make a Kabocha breakfast cereal**, Pumpkin Pancakes, Kabocha savory soup, or one of my ‘pumpkin\kabocha desserts like Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Pumpkin Keto Poptarts, Pumpkin Pie Tarts (or pie), and as the secret ingredient that makes these brownies so moist! Give it a shot!
**Full details on the kabocha breakfast cereal coming soon, but here’s the basics:
1 scoop unflavored (or flavored if don’t mind a few extra carbs – Dynamize Elite Whey Vanilla has 2 net carbs) protein powder
1/2 cup cooked kabocha squash
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/4 cup water
Cinnamon to taste
Mix the protein powder and kabocha up roughly until combined, add water and mix until not quite smooth. Nuke in microwave until hot – 30-45 seconds. Top with cinnamon and nuts. EAT!
Hey, if you read this and like it, feel free to give me some feedback in the comments. I’d love to hear from everyone on what they think of my ‘creations.’ If you have questions, ask! If you hate them, tell me 🙂. If you do your own tweaks, let me know, I love to learn new things!!