We’ve been eating a lot of squash lately – I can’t resist in-season foods and have been picking up a spaghetti squash almost every week. The recipe I have below is a little more geared towards spaghetti squash newbies since it’s a little closer to a classic pasta – but I increase the protein content with the beans. It is really easy to miss out on protein when having spaghetti squash or even regular pasta.
When purchasing squash and in-season foods try to do so at a local farmers market. It’s a great way to support your local economy, small farms and see where your food is coming from!
Other ways to prepare are by adding pesto, a ground turkey sauce, or make it southwest style. A couple of my favorite non-original recipes are listed at the bottom of this post. As I mentioned above, I make spaghetti squash a lot; my husband still opts for this recipe over others since it feels more like Italian food!
This recipe comes out to about 200 Calories per serving so it is best used as a side dish to lean chicken or fish at dinner or along with soup or salad for lunch.
Italian Style Spaghetti Squash (GF, V, DF)
Ingredients (see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):
1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
1 Tablespoon olive oil or organic canola (I use Spectrum Organic)
2-3 cloves minced organic garlic (about 2 Tbsp minced)*
1 Medium organic red onion, sliced & halved (~1 1/2 Cups)*
2 M-L sized organic beefsteak tomatoes (about 3 cups chopped)
1 15 oz can white beans (I use Trader Joe’s organic great northern beans)
2 Cups fresh organic spinach leaves (not in picture -oops!)*
1/2 Tbsp dried basil*
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano*
1/2 tsp dried parsley*
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper*
Black pepper to taste
*Purchasing tips: Trader Joe’s sells bags of organic onions for next to nothing! Bulk garlic, organic spinach, and all the spices with * can be purchased at BJ’s and likely other clubs like Costco.
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
-Take your spaghetti squash and carefully cut in half lengthwise. The first cut may seem difficult but once the knife is in its a lot easier to cut the rest of the squash.
-Dig out the seeds & pulp (pictured w/out seeds on left below)
-Save the seeds for the roasted seed recipe below!
-Set the squash cut side down in a large glass baking dish & add 1/2-3/4 C water
-Place in the oven and cook about 40 minutes (may vary depending on size of squash & oven)
-While the squash is cooking slice your onion and halve the slices
-Mince your garlic cloves finely & dice your tomatoes
-Heat the canola oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat for a minute and then add the garlic & onions. Stir & cover for 2-3 minutes
-Add the tomatoes, stir & cover until you are done getting the beans ready
-Drain the can of beans & then rinse them – this is important to greatly reduce the sodium content
*If you are an athlete training several hours a day, don’t worry about the sodium!
-Add beans, stir again and cover for 1-2 minutes
-Add the basil, oregano, parsley and pepper – stir well and turn off the burner
-Add spinach, stir and let sit – I tear the spinach in half as I add it but you can keep the leaves whole too
-When the squash is done you should easily be able to stick a fork in through the skin
-Remove it from the oven & carefully flip so the flesh side is up
-With a fork, you’ll basically want to “rake” from one side to the other to remove the “spaghetti”
-Now you can either stir your veggie mixture right in with the squash, or keep separate for each dish that you plate and add the mixture on top! Nutrition information is based on having 1 Cup of spaghetti squash and 1/4 of the veggie/sauce mixture.
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Spaghetti Squash isn’t going to provide you with tons of one specific nutrient but it will contribute a balanced amount of most vitamins and minerals to your diet especially Vitamins C & B6. What shines for spaghetti squash is the fiber & healthy carbohydrate content as well as the carotenoid antioxidants.
Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. But people forget that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.
Great Northern Beans are going to give you a good amount of the B-vitamins Thiamin, Folate and B6 but they are also an amazing source of most minerals. Beans provide good amounts of phytochemicals and phytoestrogens which may aid in protection against breast & other cancers.
*Purchasing tip: If I am purchasing canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free.
Red onions are a good source of Vitamins C & B6, folate and even provides potassium & magnesium. Onions are packed with phytochemicals known to promote cardiovascular and respiratory health.
Garlic provides a lot of the same benefits as onions including the phytochemical allicin as well as sulfides. Research on garlic links it to an improved immune system.
Servings: 4 (You’ll likely have some squash leftover)
Total Fat: 4.5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 34 g
Fiber: 9 g
Protein: 10 g
Sodium: 175 mg 11%(as long as you rinsed those beans!)
Potassium: 950 mg 20 %
Vitamin A: 23 % Thiamin: 15 % Riboflavin: 12 %
Niacin: 13 % Pant Acid: 16 % Vitamin B6: 25 %
Vitamin C: 38 % Vitamin E: 15%
Calcium: 14 % Iron: 23 % Zinc: 20%
Magnesium: 28 % Copper: 40 % Selenium: 4 %
Manganese: 50 % Phosphorus: 18 % Omega 3: 30% (0.5 g)
**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more
than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns
Other fun spaghetti squash recipes:
One of my favorites is this Southwest Style Spaghetti Squash from Whole Foods
Bonus Recipe: Roasted Squash Seeds
We always think to roast our pumpkin seeds but why discriminate against other squash seeds? No matter if its pumpkin, spaghetti squash, butternut or acorn squash seeds, they provide protein, fiber, iron, potassium & zinc with less fat and calories per serving than nuts. Add to a trail mix or eat on their own for a fall themed snack.
-Take the seeds from your squash and rinse in water until they aren’t so sticky
-Place in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of agave or honey
-Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
-Mix well and spread on a non-stick baking sheet
-Pop in the oven while your squash is cooking for about 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes