I was once a self proclaimed pasta addict. It didn’t matter how it was prepared. Mac and cheese, tortellini, fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti…..I didn’t discriminate. I loved them all. But when I began taking food and it’s impact on my health seriously, my relationship with pasta got a bit rocky.
It was then that a friend suggested I try spaghetti squash. I nodded my head blankly, walked away feeling dejected. Not only was I slowly breaking up with pasta, but my next best option was a VEGETABLE that may LOOK like spaghetti but certainly doesn’t TASTE like it??
But I do love a healthy bandwagon to jump on (I was all over kale back in the day), so the next time I was at the grocery store I proudly bought a spaghetti squash. I smiled at the cashier, gave her a look that said “of course I’m the kind of person the eats spaghetti squash!” I brought it home and set it on my counter, so full of good intentions. Then days passed, and weeks. I eventually rolled the squash behind a decorative bowl so my husband would quit asking what it was for. Fall came around and I decided my squash was likely just meant to be a decoration. Nothing lost, I was just ahead of the game when I purchased it.
But something was still missing in my life. With pasta gone, I needed something to fill the void. And just like that I decided I needed to grow up and give spaghetti squash another shot (though I still had my doubts). I purchased a new squash, asked my friend how to cook it and followed through. That night we sat down to our first of many spaghetti squash dinners. It took a few bites to get used to it, but I actually liked it! And when I finished eating, I didn’t have that full, bloated belly feeling that pasta left me with. I felt great. I had found my new bandwagon…see ya later kale!!
But one year later, spaghetti squash has proven to be much more than a bandwagon to ride in my house. We have branched out from eating it with meat sauce to trying it all kinds of ways. Seriously the possibilities are endless! My old friend pasta? When we get together now, it’s just not the same.
How can something so enjoyable be good for you in so many ways? While one cup of regular spaghetti contains roughly 220 calories, 42 grams of carbs, and is relatively void of nutrients, one cup of spaghetti squash contains just 42 calories, 10 grams of carbs and is packed full of goodies with too many benefits to mention.
Let me name a few: That one cup contains 10% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Spaghetti squash is also a source of vitamin A, B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin K, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These nutrients promote optimal cellular function, cardiovascular health, eye health, reduced birth defects and can help prevent free radical damage to cells. Spaghetti squash is a good source of manganese, which helps produce healthy bones, tissues and sex hormones. It also plays a part in metabolism, regulation of blood sugar, absorption of calcium and the functioning of the nervous system. I could go on, but by now hopefully you get the point. This is good stuff!
If you take the time to look, the internet is packed full of spaghetti squash recipes. I’m going to leave you with just a few of my favorites to try! But don’t let that stop you from finding some gems of your own! I hope you can fall in love with spaghetti squash just as I have.
“Spaghetti” with Meat Suace – Simple and classic
Cut the squash in half. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Drizzle the inside with olive oil and place skin side up, squash side down in a pan. Bake at 350 for 30-60 minutes (until the outside gives a bit when you poke it with your finger). Let it cool on the counter while you make your favorite meat sauce. Take a fork and scrape the inside of the squash. It will naturally come apart in “noodles.” Top the noodles with sauce and you are good to go!
Bacon, Chicken and “Spaghetti”
Prepare squash same as above. In the meanwhile, chop up uncooked bacon and saute in a pan with raw or cooked cubed chicken until all the meat is cooked through. Add veggies of your choice to the pan and saute until cooked. Mushrooms are a great option! Also spinach, asparagus, etc. Add the cooked and shredded spaghetti squash to the pan with the meat and veggies and toss together. Voila! Dinner is served!
Thai Peanut Sauce Spaghetti Squash – One of my favorites (from leelalicious.com)! Check out her website for the full recipe!