Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Autumn brings cooler air, fall colors, comfort foods and, of course, pumpkins. While pumpkins usually take the spotlight as the traditional fall food, there are several other varieties of savory winter squash. (Yes, pumpkin is indeed a type of squash!) One very unique type of squash is spaghetti squash, which actually produces thin, translucent spaghetti-like strands that can easily be scraped out with a fork after cooked. So, why seek out this golden gourd?

  • Nutritious & Delicious. Spaghetti squash is low in calories (only 40 calories in one cup cooked), fat, sodium and carbohydrates, making it a tasty, naturally gluten-free alternative to pasta. In addition, spaghetti squash is high in fiber and loaded with potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidants. It is also an effortless way to add one to two servings of vegetables at a meal.
  • Simple to Select. Choose firm, well-shaped squash that is heavy for its size with hard, tough skin, free from blemishes. Look for spaghetti squash with a nice lemon color (if it’s green it is under ripe). Don’t forget to get kids involved in selecting the perfect squash!
  • Easy to Prepare. Start by washing the squash with a vegetable brush under running water, and dry with a towel. The gourd can either be cooked whole by poking several holes around the surface, or sliced in half lengthwise using a large kitchen knife. If cut before cooking, scrape away the seeds and stringy bits using a spoon until the inside is clean; this step can also completed after cooking if cooked whole. Spaghetti squash can be roasted in the oven or cooked in the microwave with no apparent difference in taste or texture. After cooking, simply slice the squash in half and remove the seeds and stringy bits (if not already done prior to cooking). Next, shred the squash flesh with a fork, and spaghetti-like strings of squash will form. Strain the squash to remove excess liquid, and viola, you have succulent spaghetti squash!
  • Endless Substitutions & Pairing Possibilities. Substitute spaghetti squash for pasta in recipes, or for rice in tacos and burritos. Try mixing with pesto or pasta sauce, olive oil, herbs, spices, sautéed vegetables, ground beef or turkey, grilled chicken or shrimp, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Add spaghetti squash to soups, chili, stir fry, salads and casseroles to increase the overall vegetable content.
  • Seeds for Snacks. Just as you would roast pumpkin seeds, toss cleaned squash seeds with a little olive oil and seasonings of your choice. Spread seeds on a baking sheet and bake at 300° F for 8-10 minutes. Squash seeds contain protein, vitamins, minerals, heart healthy fats and dietary fiber, making them a smart and satisfying snack.

Just in time for comfort food season, try this flavorful fall spaghetti squash recipe!

Recipe

Cheesy Veggie & Spaghetti Squash Bake
Serves: 6

Ingredients

    • 1 whole spaghetti squash
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 red pepper, diced
    • 1 zucchini, diced
    • 1 carrot, shredded
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tomato, diced
    • 16 oz. tomato sauce
    • 4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
    • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Poke spaghetti squash all over with a knife and cook in the microwave for 8- 12 minutes until soft. If you don’t have a microwave, place the poked squash on a baking pan and bake at 375° F for 45 to 60 minutes. While squash is cooking, add the oil, garlic, pepper, zucchini, and carrots to a pan, cooking over medium heat.
  3. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and scrape the flesh from the peel with a fork. It should flake off easily in strings, resembling spaghetti. Place the spaghetti squash flesh in a casserole dish. Add the cooked veggies, diced tomato, sauce, and most of the cheese and mix well. Sprinkle leftover cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
  4. Allow to cool for five minutes, serve, and enjoy!

Serves: 6

Recipe & Photo Adapted from PopSugar®

Lauren Lindsley, RD
Corporate Nutritionist
Skogen’s Festival Foods

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