March 24th, 2022

Calabaza squash is a combination between pumpkin, zucchini and squash. While the shape is like a small pumpkin, the color is like a zucchini and the insides look and taste similar to a squash! They also have beautiful, bright yellow flowers that are known as flor de calabaza, that can be consumed and are often used in quesadillas. 


At first when I learnt the word calabaza here in Mexico, I thought it only referred to the big orange pumpkins I am used to seeing around Halloween. But then I realized that what I know as zucchini was also called calabaza, as well as squash – confusing much!? 


Well, let me clear the confusion and tell you why this amazing vegetable (technically a fruit) should be included into your weekly meals, especially if you are watching your waist line! 


First and foremost, calabaza squash not only tastes great but is also low in calories, only having between 19-26calories per 100grams. With the average diet requiring between 1500-2500 calories per day, vegetables like the calabaza squash make a great addition to meal time as a way to feel full with less calories which means less likely to gain weight and even aid in weight loss!


What are calories? Most people hear the word calories and think weight gain; however, calories are not all ‘evil’ as they are lifesaving! Calories are the energy found in food and are needed as the fuel for the body to be converted into energy we can use. Your body is constantly using and burning calories even as you sleep, in order to keep all of your body systems working optimally. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are all fuel sources as they contain calories to fuel the body’s energy needs. No matter which food source they come from, the calories you consume either will get used by the body as energy or will be stored in the body as fat. Fat in a way is simply excess stored calories that will remain in the body until your body demands the need to use them as fuel for energy. This does not mean that if you have a lot of stored fat, you will have a lot of energy (we wish). Stored energy must be released by changing the diet, exercise or stimulating the fat burning metabolic processes. 


In a nut shell, if you eat or drink more calories than the calories you burn, it will end up being stored as fat. This is why calabaza squash is such a great option when it comes to watching your overall calorie intake to aid in weight management or weight loss. Now, apart from water and very light soups, vegetables are the lowest calorie food group, with the calabaza squash being one of the lowest per 100grams. Due to it being a low-calorie food you are able to eat a larger portion than other foods and feel fuller while not consuming excess calories, because it is not about the number of calories you eat to make you feel full, but rather the volume of the food you eat. Hence, eating the low-calorie calabaza squash can satisfy your hunger and prevent the need to eat other excess calories to keep your weight under control. 


Even better news is that the calabaza squash not only fills you up but provides your body with high amounts of Vitamin A, B1, C, Folic Acid, and Minerals Potassium, as well as being rich in fiber, antioxidants, and virtually no fats. So go ahead and give this vegetable/fruit/whatever you would like to call it a try, and enjoy knowing it won’t affect your waist line!


Serves 4

1 Tablespoon coconut oil  

4 Shallots

1kg Small Calabaza Squash

2 Garlic cloves

¼ Teaspoon Cumin

¼ Teaspoon Chili Flakes 

3-4 Cups vegetable or chicken stock

Optional pinch of Nutmeg

Himalayan Salt to taste 


To Top: Black pepper, chili flakes and arugula 


Peel, and scoop out the seeds or the Calabaza and cut into cubes.  Place the oil in a deep skillet, and add in the chopped shallots, with a little salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until soft, then add in the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the cubes of the Calabaza Squash and cook on low until it begins to soften, stirring occasionally, for about 10mins. 


Add in the chili flakes, cumin, and pinch of nutmeg, stir in and then add the vegetable/chicken stock.

Slowing bring to a boil and then place on a simmer for 20-30mins until all the Calabaza squash is soft.


Once softened, leave the mixture to cool down, before placing in a blender, and blend until smooth. You may like to add more vegetable/chicken stock to get the consistency you desire, keeping in mind this is a thicker soup.


Once blended, reheat a little if needed and pour into 4 bowls, topping with fresh arugula, grind pepper and chili flakes.