In Season: Spaghetti Squash

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squash2When the days start getting shorter and there is just a slight chill in the air, my mind begins to wander to thoughts of warm, cozy and nourishing.  Not only do I love winter squash because of its natural sweetness and versatility (see my recipe for acorn squash HERE) but it is packed with so many good for you nutrients.  I have been really into spaghetti squash lately, as even my pickiest family members love it  (definitely helps with dinner harmony).  Read on to find out more about my vegetable of the moment.

What it is:  Grocery stores and farmer’s markets are piled high right now with all sorts of unusually shaped orbs shaded in greens, yellows and oranges, each of them them with their own unique natural sweetness and starchiness.  Spaghetti squash is the one that misses this traditional mark because it most resembles exactly what it is called – spaghetti!  After you bake one of these large spheres, you simply scrape out the insides with a fork and serve with a variety of flavors.  It will even twirl like spaghetti if you like.

Why its so good for you:   Spaghetti squash is not nearly as starchy as butternut squash or acorn squash – it is more a hybrid between winter and summer squash, which makes it full of water. It is also very high in fiber, with 3 grams per cup.  Fiber and water – two secrets for wieght loss.  One cup of spaghetti squash has only 30 calories (compare to the 200 empty calories in a cup of white pasta), is high in folic acid, potassium, fiber, calcium and beta carotene and runs low on the glycemic index (so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar).

squashcooked
Spaghetti squash right out of the oven

Cook It:  One thing I tell anyone new to winter squashes: have a sharp knife! You want to cut this giant in half, stick it on a baking sheet cut side up, drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper,  and bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 60 minutes to soften it up enough to get the insides out.  If you don’t have a sharp knife (buy a sharpening stone HERE)  then cut a few slits in the top and bake it whole for about 20 minutes on the baking sheet.  Carefully remove it from the oven and, using a kitchen towel, hold it steady while cutting it lengthwise.  Place it back in the oven to finish off the job.

I am not lying when I say you can eat spaghetti squash just as you would pasta, which is how I traditionally prepare it. The other night I made turkey meatballs and served them over the spaghetti squash with some homemade tomato sauce and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  I didn’t have to worry about hounding my kids to eat another vegetable or salad – that was the vegetable.  Delicious!  Click HERE for the recipe and enjoy your new favorite vegetable.

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