Need holiday cooking inspiration? We asked our Nutrition team for their favorite healthy, seasonal recipes, and they delivered! We’ll be sharing them throughout the season, but we’re starting off with a special sweet treat from Ecuador: Dulce de zapallo, or candied squash in spiced syrup. We see a lot of squash in our warehouse this time of year, and we can’t wait to try this for our next holiday feast (or on a cozy fall day)!

Dulce de zapallo or candied squash in spiced syrup

Dulce de zapallo or calabaza is a dessert made with squash or pumpkin simmered in a syrup of panela or piloncillo (hard brown cane sugar) and spices.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 1 medium squash or small pumpkin about 2 lbs – organic if possible
  • 1 lb panela or piloncillo broken into chunks – can substitute with 1.5 cups of dark brown sugar
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 all spice peppers
  • ~ 3 cups water


  1. Wash the squash well, slice it open and remove all the seeds and membranes.
  2. Cut the squash into medium sized pieces and place them in a large pot with the chunks of panela and spices.
  3. Add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat, boil for about 30 minutes with the lid on.
  4. Uncover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the syrup thickens.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Can be served warm or room temperature with a slice of fresh cheese. Can also be used as a filling for empanadas and tarts or pies.

To serve:

Fresh cheese slices can use quesillo or queso fresco or fresh mozzarella