Spaghetti Squash

Several people – friends, family, Pinterest – have been eating spaghetti squash for years now. Not me, however. I had tried it once several years back and just didn’t care for it. I really didn’t have any interest in trying it again.

But then I started counting calories. and one of my friends wanted to go to a dine-in theater for the movie we were seeing. Luckily for me their menu was on the MyFitnessPal app. However, there weren’t many options to choose from if I wanted to stay within my calorie goal for the day. One thing they did have was spaghetti squash. I sort of felt like I didn’t have much of a choice. And to be completely honest, since I had started counting calories, I had begun to wonder if maybe I should give it another try.

So I did.

It was ok but not quite what I was expecting it to be. I see it replacing pasta dishes all the time but it wasn’t like pasta. It had a crunch to it and pasta isn’t, or shouldn’t be, crunchy. But it was something that I could tolerate and I ate all of it. By the end of the dish I was sort of, in a way, enjoying it. Not completely but it was growing on me.

This made me want to try making it on my own sometime. Once I got over the non-pasta like texture of it and thought of it as the vegetable that it is I grew to like it. I can now say that it is good, it is healthy and I have had it pretty much each week since going to the movies that day.

So, what is spaghetti squash?

Spaghetti squash is in the family of winter squashes. It is very difficult to cut open. If you have ever cut open a pumpkin, acorn squash or a butternut squash you know how hard these winter squashes are. They are hard, Hard, HARD!

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What makes spaghetti squash so unique from its family members is the strands the cooked vegetable makes.

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Usually when I make butternut squash I will peel it, cut it in 1/2 inch cubes and roast it in the oven with some EVOO, salt and pepper. Spaghetti squash is cooked in a similar manner. Instead of peeling and cubing the spaghetti squash it is cooked mostly whole. When it comes out of the oven, a fork is used to shred the flesh of the squash to form strands similar to that of spaghetti.

Each squash will make a lot of “noodles”. I usually end up with between 5 and 7 cups once all of the flesh has been shredded. Most of the time the squashes I purchase weigh around 3 lbs. I have seen them smaller but I like the bigger ones.

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*BTW – you can grow them yourself if you want to. I’ve read that they are relatively easy and you can start from a seed of a spaghetti squash from the grocery store or the farmer’s market. Beware though they take up a lot of room.

They are great for weight loss because they are so low in calories. Each cup of the squash has 42 calories. I also feel like I stay full for 3-4 hours after eating a serving. Perfect timing for your next meal.

Now, most of you may have already known most of this. And many of you may already know how to prepare a spaghetti squash. But for those of you who do not, here is how you do it.

Cut the squash in half length wise.

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Scoop out all of the seeds and strands much like you would a pumpkin.

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You want a smooth, clean shell.

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Up until I started counting calories I would use  EVOO when roasting anything in the oven. But then I saw that each tablespoon had 120 calories. Granted when split between several servings it really isn’t too bad. But Pam has zero calories and works just as well. I’ve enve used it when roasting a chicken.

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Go ahead and use EVOO if you like. Some people will even cook their spaghetti squash in a water bath. I have yet to try this. I find that the roasting works perfectly and haven’t strayed from this method.

I then spray my spaghetti squash with the Pam and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Now flip them over on a baking sheet and pop in a 375 degree oven for roughly 40 minutes.

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When they come out they will look so, so pretty. My kind of pretty at least.

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I think I only had the oven set at 350 this time around and they didn’t get as golden brown as they usually do. They tasted just fine though and didn’t require any additional cooking time. If you cook them at 375 you will see more color. Don’t be afraid of this. It’s all good!

Now shred, shred, shred.

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You want to get as much flush as you can. If cooked properly you won’t have a problem with this and will be left with just the shell.

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You see how there is just a little bit left around the edges? That is because I had cooked it at 350 instead of 375. When cooked at 375 I have nothing but the shell left.

And walah a big bowl of spaghetti squash. Looks like spaghetti noodles doesn’t it?

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So, what do you do with it now?

Well, anything really. Spaghetti squash can replace the noodle in just about any pasta dish. I’m not going to lie to you though. Spaghetti squash is not known for it’s flavor. It’s practically non existent. I urge you to take a bite right now, before you do anything else to it, just so that you know and understand what it tastes like.

Nothing? Exactly. I don’t find that it has any flavor to it at all. It takes on what ever flavors you add to it.

Below are a few of the dishes I have made so far with it. A couple of them more than once. Recipes to come!

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Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

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Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash

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Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

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Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein Round 2

Enjoy!

Bettina

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