The only thing that’s hard about cooking an acorn squash is cutting through its tough outer skin. Once you have it cut in half, it's easy to prepare. One cup of baked acorn squash is a rich source of complex carbs and fiber, as well as vitamins A and C.
Acorn squash belongs to the family of winter squashes. Where summer squashes such as zucchini and crookneck have soft, edible skin, the different types of winter squash develop a tough, inedible rind. Winter squashes keep well for at least one month in a cool, dry place, but don’t put them in your refrigerator for long-term storage. You'll get 115 calories and 2 grams of protein from 1 cup of baked, cubed acorn squash. The same portion also supplies at least 20 percent of your daily recommended intake of magnesium, potassium and vitamin B-6, 30 percent of vitamin C and almost 40 percent of vitamin A.
The primary job of carbohydrates is to provide fuel for your body. Sugars and starches are broken down into single molecules of glucose that cells throughout your body convert into energy. Your liver and muscles store some glucose in the form of glycogen so that it’s available when you exercise and need a boost of energy. One cup of baked, cubed acorn squash has 30 grams of total carbohydrates. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that women should consume 130 grams of carbohydrates daily, so this serving supplies 23 percent of your total carbohydrates.
Acorn squash is a rich source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber isn’t digested for energy. Instead it travels through your digestive tract, where each type provides different health benefits. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation by adding bulk to digestive waste. Soluble fiber helps prevent surges in blood sugar after you eat carbohydrates. It also lowers levels of cholesterol. One cup of baked, cubed acorn squash has 9 grams of total fiber, or 36 percent of women’s recommended 25 grams of daily fiber. If you’re not used to eating that much fiber, add it to your diet gradually. That way your body has time to adjust and you’ll limit or avoid excess gas or bloating.
Don’t try to peel the hard rind, just cut the acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and then cook it still in the skin. Cut it in half or into wedges, rub olive oil over the flesh and roast it in your oven. If you cut the raw flesh out of the skin and into cubes, you can roast or boil the cubes and add them to a tossed salad, stir them into rice or mix them with other vegetables. When acorn squash is cut in half it makes a bowl that’s easy to stuff with a mixture of onions, carrots and mushrooms or apples, raisins and cinnamon.
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.