Facts for Families
Spaghetti Squash-A Different Kind of Noodle
By Jenna Smith, Nutrition Educator
Have you ever tried spaghetti squash before? This oblong, yellow winter squash is a fun vegetable the kids will love. Once cooked, the flesh is scraped out with a fork into long thin strands that resemble spaghetti noodles. And because spaghetti squash is not as sweet as its winter squash companions, such as acorn or butternut, it actually tastes similar to pasta.
To get those "spaghetti-like" strands, cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and place it cut side down in a glass dish filled with ¼-½ inch of water. Bake the squash in a 350 degrees F oven for about 45 minutes, or cover and microwave on high for 12-15 minutes. Squash can also be boiled in a large pot of water that covers the squash for 20-30 minutes or put in the slow cooker with 2 cups of water and cooked on low for 8-9 hours.
Why use spaghetti squash rather than spaghetti? Consider this: 1 cup spaghetti noodles has 197 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate, while 1 cup spaghetti squash has only 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrate! Plus, spaghetti squash is packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, dietary fiber and potassium. To save on time, I'd recommend either microwaving or cooking in the slow cooker, which is just as easy as boiling a pot of spaghetti noodles! Kids and adults alike will love the spaghetti squash with meatball recipe below; if you'd rather use canned spaghetti sauce, just look for a low sodium version. Try spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti noodles in any dish, and you'll feel good about your low-carb choice.
Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs
1 spaghetti squash
¼ cup water
1/3 cup bulgur
½ cup boiling water
2 (14.5 oz.) cans no-salt added crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼-½ cup water
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place cut-side down in microwave-safe dish; add ¼ cup water. Microwave, covered, on High for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and scrape out flesh with a fork. Meanwhile, place bulgur in large bowl; pour boiling water over bulgur and let stand 10 minutes or until water is absorbed. In a medium saucepan, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, red pepper, oregano and basil over medium high heat until boiling. Add in water as needed so it doesn't get too thick; simmer on low. Stir in beef, egg, garlic and Italian seasoning into bulgur; shape into 1-inch balls. Lightly coat skillet with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Serve meatballs and sauce over squash. Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional analysis per serving: 300 Calories, 7 grams fat, 75 milligrams cholesterol, 240 milligrams sodium, 37 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams dietary fiber, 22 grams protein