Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti!

Nutrition Blog Directory
One of my newest favorite dishes is spaghetti…but with a much healthier twist using spaghetti squash.  I’m not a huge pasta fan.  I can usually take it or leave it (unless its macaroni & cheese) so whenever I do make a pasta dish, I use a whole wheat pasta to convince myself that I’m eating well.  After a lot of intensive and scholarly research on Google, I found some interesting information on the whole-wheat pasta debate.  Typically when we think of healthy foods, we picture colorful foods like the deepest greens, vibrant purples and oranges, brilliant yellows and such – basically the colors of the rainbow.  Contrast to the foods that taste good but really aren’t that great for your body and you see brown, brown, brown, and more brown.  Basically, soul food isn’t that great for your soul.  So with that picture in mind, you might think that all foods that seem healthier like brown eggs, those wonderfully delicious granolas, pre-packaged oatmeals, fruit juices, and hearty looking organic trail mixes.   However, this is just the work of really great marketing.

spasquash_6

Well, back to the topic of the whole-wheat pasta debate: it actually is healthier.  According to Alicia Romano, a registered dietitian at Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center, a cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti gives you the benefit of 23% of your daily fiber and 16% of protein, whereas white pasta only has 9% of your daily fiber, if that.  The reason behind this difference is that in whole-wheat pasta, the bran, germ, and endosperm of the kernel are kept intact, giving you that extra boost of protein and fiber.  However, this is true of only 100% whole-wheat pasta, NOT the ‘enriched’ white pastas.  The main reason why the white flour-based pastas still reign supreme is the texture and their tendency to take on the flavoring of the dish better (apparently).

spasquash_4
I paired my spaghetti squash spaghetti with some raw spinach, tomato sauce, and chicken sausage.  Make this meal vegetarian by nixing the sausage.  It’s just as filling!

This variety of squash gets its name from how it pulls apart.  The Science of Eating blog says this pasta alternative is great for weight loss as it only has 42 calories to a cup of cooked pasta (they didn’t specify white vs. whole-wheat) at over 200 calories, as well as having only 10 grams of carbs per serving.  Spaghetti squash also imparts vitamin A, B, and C with each serving.  The list goes on.  Most importantly it tastes good!

I know what you might be thinking – how could squash possibly be this great?  I myself hate squash.  I hate how it is usually prepared- mushy, squishy, and squashy.  Its flavor has never been a favorite of mine leaving me to pick it out of mixed vegetables and other dishes.  I was wary of trying this until I saw Dani Spies’ video on YouTube.  The preparation was so quick that I decided to give it a try.  I was not disappointed AT ALL!  Even my mother, who shares the same attitude towards squash, raved about how flavorful and delicious it was.  The texture is quite different.  It is light and has a slight crunch to it, but you’d still never think you were eating your veggies if no one told you before hand.  You might just think it was a different kind of pasta.

spasquash_8
The squash are fairly small even though they can make up to four servings of ‘pasta’.  My little 10 lb dog, Bruce, is a little model to show their size.

Here’s how I prepared the spaghetti squash per the Dani Spies Clean & Delicious video instructions.  The best part about this dish is that it is prepared in the microwave and only takes about 8-12 total minutes cooking time depending on the size of the squash.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 8-12 minutes

Cooling Time: 8-10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
    • It should feel firm with no bruising or soft spots and have a bright, buttery yellow color all over.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Italian or any seasoning of your choice

Preparation:

  • Take one large knife and poke two vertical slits into the squash.
    • Since the squash is firm, be very mindful of your hand placement as it can be a little difficult to pierce the squash and remove the knife.
  • Repeat this three more times
    • You should end up with eight vertical slices around the squash.  This prevents the squash from exploding in your microwave as it cooks.
  • Place squash in a microwave-safe dish and cook according to the simple rule of thumb below:
    • *Rule of thumb for microwaving:  4-5 minutes on high per pound of spaghetti squash in the microwave.spasquash_9
  • After cooking for the 6 minutes, rotate and cook on other side for the same amount of time.
    • You’ll know if the squash is done cooking when you can press your finger on the skin and leave in indentation

spasquash_10

  • Let squash cool.
  • Place squash on cutting board and cut lengthwise.
  • Take a fork to remove the seeds by lightly scraping.
  • Once seeds are removed, just rake the fork down the inside of the squash, and you’ll start to see the strands pull apart into ‘spaghetti’!

You can toss the spaghetti lightly in some olive oil and seasonings of your choice.  I think this helps with bringing out flavor.  I also usually serve this with a red sauce (I’m not a huge fan of white sauce) and some sort of protein like baked chicken or sausage (either chicken or turkey) and call it a day.

 

This is a super simple meal that can be made anywhere as long as there’s a microwave!  And despite it appearing to be a small squash, you can actually feed 2 to 3 people off of one squash depending on how hungry they are.

*The spaghetti squash alone is only around 42 calories per cup, but with the olive oil it comes to about 87.  The addition of spinach, sauce, and sausage increase the calorie count but the dish still remains relatively low.

With spaghetti squash, you get the best of both worlds: delicious pasta and your serving of vegetables!  Enjoy and let me know how you like to prepare your spaghetti squash.

 

Sites that I used:

http://greatist.com/health/whole-wheat-pasta-healthier

Should I Eat Whole-Wheat Pasta?

http://thescienceofeating.com/2014/12/24/benefits-of-spaghetti-squash-2/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s