Vegetable of the Month – Spaghetti Squash
February is upon us already! Winter is in full swing where I live and my thoughts are already turning to warmer spring weather ahead of us. Soon enough, I remind myself. For now, I will embrace the winter wonderland in the Midwest!
Most of you with active school age children know how busy it is for families at this time of year. There is always plenty of homework as wells as practicing school plays. Sports and gearing up for recitals (at least in my household). Making time for nutritious, fast, and easy meals can be a challenge! I am always looking for recipes that make mealtime even easier, while not compromising on nutrition.
When growing up, I vaguely remember my mother preparing spaghetti squash and me, not be especially fond of it. It was okay, but not something that I would request seconds of. That has changed as an adult. Just last year, a family member of mine (who coincidently has a background in nutrition) told me about her new favorite way of preparing spaghetti squash. It was so incredibly easy and delicious. Since then, I’ve been buying a lot more squash and enjoying it immensely.
This month, I’d like to share with you a super easy and delicious way of preparing spaghetti squash and a bit about why it is so healthy for you. You will hopefully enjoy adding a new mid-week meal to your repertoire.
Spaghetti squash is just one of many squash in the winter squash family. Winter squash differ from the summer varieties (zucchini and yellow squash) by their thick, hard skin. Besides spaghetti squash, winter squash also includes acorn, butternut and buttercup squash. Although squash are harvested in the summer and fall, winter squash can be stored for up to six months, which make them ideal for winter cooking.
There is a lot to like about winter squash nutritionally. It is low calorie, low in fat, cholesterol free and high in dietary fiber. It is a good, to great, source of all of the following: vitamins A, C, B, potassium, manganese. folate, iron and omega 3 fatty acids. And like sweet potatoes and carrots, it is a good source of beta-carotene. Usually, the darker the squash variety, the higher the beta-carotene content.
When spaghetti squash is baked, the flesh can be pulled apart with a fork and results in a spaghetti-like strand. This makes it an ideal pasta substitute. I love finding a ‘whole foods’ version of a comfort recipe and spaghetti squash does this. To bake, simply rinse the squash and slice lengthwise, from stem to stern. Remove the seeds from the center and either discard or save them and prepare them like pumpkin seeds. The cut squash can be brushed with olive oil or sprinkled with sugar, salted and peppered. Place both halves, face down in a shallow baking dish filled with a thin layer of water on the bottom. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Allow to cool. When cooled, use a fork and drag along the flesh, lengthwise. The squash will separate into strands, almost like spaghetti. You can now use your squash spaghetti however you wish.
The recipe below is a super easy and delicious way to eat spaghetti squash.
Well, that is all for this month. Enjoy your new version of spaghetti. I would love to hear how your families liked it. Please leave a comment or send an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
eat your veggies,
Kelly Van Stone