Monday, June 29, 2009

Spaghetti? NOPE but close!

So let me just tell you a bit about my diet before I start this post... I do not eat wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar, fruits, soy, nuts.... Wait, maybe I should just tell you what I do eat - that list would be a lot shorter! ha ha.

With such restrictions in my life sometimes it's hard to find substitutes for those "staple" pantry items that everyone seems to have (pasta, rice, bread, etc)...

I have found one substitution that I think works remarkably well and if I could would eat it every single day in mass quantities.

Curious yet on what it is?

Spaghetti Squash!

The stringy strands remind me so much of pasta it's crazy and the way it's tastes is like joy in my mouth (you can obviously tell I haven't eaten sugar in a really long time).

This type of squash is so versatile: top it with tomato sauce, clam sauce, olive tapenade, olive oil and garlic, or just a big slab of salmon - spaghetti squash adopts any flavor you put on it but also gives the added a little some extra too!

What do you want to know first, how to cook it or its health benefits? Health Benefits it is!

Spaghetti Squash has 42 calories in an ENTIRE cup along with 2 grams of fiber! This makes it the lowest calorie winter squash out there so if any of you are on a low carb diet and a bit skeptical when it comes to winter squash, spaghetti squash is completely suitable for all stages!

Within those measly 42 calories there is an abundance of nutrients that only makes me want to buy every grocery store out of their stock! This squash is full of:
  • Potassium
  • Beta-Carotene
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Folate
  • Fiber
Woah Woah Woah, now that's a good looking nutritonal profile if I say so myself!

Now since I am all sure you're dying to know how to cook this type of squash so you too can reap it's benefits... Here's what to do:

  • Bake It -- Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer and place in baking dish. Cook squash in preheated 375F oven approximately 1 hour or until flesh is tender.

  • Boil It -- Heat a pot of water large enough to hold the whole squash. When the water is boiling, drop in the squash and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on its size. When a fork goes easily into the flesh, the squash is done.

  • Microwave It -- Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place squash cut sides up in a microwave dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size of squash. Add more cooking time if necessary. Let stand covered, for 5 minutes. With fork "comb" out the strands.

  • Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot - Choose a smaller spaghetti squash (unless you have an extra large slow cooker) so that it will fit. Add 2 cups of water to slow cooker. Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer, add to Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Once the squash is cooked, let it cool for 10 to 20 minutes so it will be easier to handle, before cutting in half (if it wasn't already) and removing the seeds. Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long strands. You can do these steps ahead of time, then prepare spaghetti squash recipes whenever you're hankering for some delicious vitamin A, E and C (among other things too of course!)!

Here's a really good link with even more helpful information regarding the health benefits of spaghetti squash and its cousins such as butternut, acorn and pumpkin!

Now that I've let you in on one of my favorite foods, I am going to go eat some right now! I hope you all do the same in the near future! Let me know what you end up doing with it too - I love trying out new recipes!

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