All winter squash can be grouped into three species: Cucurbita pepo consists of the smaller, daintier squashes, such as Sweet Dumpling, delicata and acorn; C. maxima refers to the round, bumpy squashes, such as buttercup, Golden Nugget and Red Kuri; C. moschata are round or elongated squashes with smooth skin and dense flesh, such as butternut.
Delicata has golden flesh with a creamy texture and distinctive corn taste. The skin is edible, unlike that of most other winter squashes. Buttercup's deep orange flesh is rich and sweet with a moist and velvety texture. The skin can be either green with light green stripes and flecks or orange. The familiar green acorn squash is now appearing in markets in new colors, like orange, white and black. Golden Nugget looks like a small pumpkin with a green ring on the blossom end. Its deep orange flesh is dry, finely textured and mildly sweet. Red Kuri is tear-shaped and has a dry and velvety flesh with a mild, almost salty, flavor. Sweet Dumpling is one of the sweetest squashes, with a light orange flesh and smooth texture. The ivory-and-green skin changes to yellow-and-orange as it matures.
Squash & Health
Winter squash, which weighs in at only 50 calories per cup, can replace oil or butter in baked goods while delivering a wallop of vitamins and minerals. One cup delivers up to half the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C and about one-fourth the suggested intake of potassium (a mineral that lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke). The varieties with the darkest flesh have the most beta-carotene; for instance, one cup of butternut squash supplies enough beta-carotene to meet the RDA of vitamin A, which contributes to healthy skin, vision and bones.
The Mighty Pumpkin
The new Ritz-Carlton Spa at Half Moon Bay in Northern California offers a Pumpkin Body Peel that uses pumpkin enzymes to exfoliate the skin ($75; 650-712-7040). The Pumpkin/Melon Body Treatment at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, outside Los Angeles, scrubs skin smooth with ground pumpkin and melon seeds and pumpkin pie spices ($110; 888-SPA-OJAI). The Pumpkin Prune Enzyme Peel at Susan Ciminelli Day Spa in New York City mixes pumpkin and prune extracts to smooth your body ($250; 212-872-2650). Or give yourself a facial with one of these products: Jaqua Girls Pumpkin and Papaya Face Mask ($18 for 5 ounces; 877-973-7467); Zia Natural Skincare Pumpkin Exfoliating Mask ($23 for 1.2 ounces; 800-334-7546); or Holistic Skin Care Pumpkin Face Scrub with Apricot & Walnut ($12 for 4 ounces; 818-990-6618).
"I wanted to treat myself without paying the price in calories," says Cristina Carlino, the owner of the beauty company Philosophy, explaining how she came to bottle the spicy scent of pumpkin pie in a three-in-one shampoo, conditioner and body wash. It's sold as part of Philosophy's Baked Goods Cookbook kit, which also includes three-in-one cleansers scented like chocolate chip cookies, banana nut bread and cinnamon buns. (There are Cookbook kits themed around pies and frozen desserts, too.) Originally aimed at children, the kits have found an ardent adult following. Carlino, for one, hasn't felt the need to make any of the recipes printed on the bottles. "I love cinnamon buns," she says, "but I haven't had a hankering for the real thing since I started keeping the stuff in my shower" ($30 for four 4.5-ounce bottles; at Sephora, 877-973-7467).