Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Best Not Spaghetti You'll Ever Eat

Tonight is one of those nights you want comfort food.  It's about -11 degrees outside  with sputtering snow every few hours.  The prairie dog colony we have near the house has gone to ground.  Not a single fuzzy face to be seen above the snow.  And even The Rocket Dog does her business in a hurry to get back inside because just breathing that cold air makes you cough.  

Tonight's dinner was Spaghetti (Squash) With Meat Sauce.  I've got to thank Rik for turning me on to this!  I used to make home made pasta pretty often for my kids.  Homemade ravioli, or long thick noodles for home made chicken noodle soup that I'd can every summer to eat in the winter wasn't a rare occurrence.  But even making them from scratch, they're pretty full of carbs and don't have a ton of 'good for you stuff'  in them.  

Spaghetti squash on the other hand has only 31 calories per 1 cup serving.  It also has 0 cholesterol, no saturated or polyunsaturated fat, 9% of your daily vitamin C requirements, and 3% of your calcium, vitamin A, and iron requirements, and a whopping 109 mg of potassium which is a key player in keeping big things like heart disease and stroke at bay.  

The spaghetti squash pictured to the right is large enough to serve about 4 people a heaping helping.  And they're super easy to prepare. 

 Here's the recipe:

Spaghetti (Squash) With Meat Sauce

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash (see the picture above which will serve 4 adults)
1 small jar of prepared pizza sauce
1/2 lb. of lean hamburger cooked and well-drained

Poke holes in your squash like you would a potato before putting it in the microwave.  You're going to steam it in the microwave, and the moisture in the squash is what is going to steam the inside.

After poking the holes, place it in the microwave and set it for 2 minutes.  You'll cook it on high for about 8 minutes total, turning it over every time the timer goes off before you set it for another 2 minutes.  You'll know it's done when it starts to get squishy and steams.  

While this is in the microwave, fry up your hamburger and let it drain well.  Once you've removed the excess fat, open your jar of sauce and dump it in and set it on low to heat up while you finish preparing the squash.

When the 8 minutes are up and the spaghetti squash meets the above criteria for done-ness, take it from the microwave.  Using a towel to protect the hand not holding the knife, slice it in half lengthwise.  You'll find a few small white seeds in the middle that look rather like pumpkin seeds.  Carefully scrape them out along with the stringy still sort of gooey strings.  You'll be able to tell the difference between the guts and the actual meat of the squash.  

III.  When the seeds are removed, it will look like this (left): very similar to spaghetti noodles!  


IV.  Using a fork, scrape this directly onto your plate. It's cooked and completely ready to eat at this point!  They have a slightly sweet, slightly nutty taste and when cooked through have the consistency of an al dente noodle.  Really quite cool how it cooks up!

V. Add the sauce to the top of your noodles, and dinner is served!  Start to finish, this took me 20 minutes.  
A plate this size (about 1 cup of meat sauce and 2 cups of spaghetti squash) works out to about the following nutritionally about 480 calories with the bulk of the calories coming from the hamburger.  To make this entire meal less weighty calorie-wise leave out the meat.  Then, even with the prepared sauce, you can keep this entire meal under 250 calories.  And it took 20 minutes to fix when preparing the meat.  You can cut that time in half by omitting the meat altogether.  

I can honestly say I really do enjoy this almost as much as spaghetti.  It's one of those meals that makes you forget you're eating "healthy" and is just fun to eat!  And I don't much miss the bread anymore.  We used to buy a loaf of french bread, eat a thick slice each while dinner was cooking, and then the next thing I knew, the entire loaf was gone!  But I ate my plate of food tonight (the above picture was Rik's), and was full and perfectly satisfied without the bread.

And kids might even get on board with this one just for the uniqueness.  Have them help you prepare it. They get a kick out of watching this hard yellow ball turn into something that looks like a food with which they're quite familiar!  

Here is our food for the day:

Breakfast:  1 c. oat meal with 2 tsp of brown sugar and 1 medium banana
Snack:  Protein shake and Oatmeal Cupcake To Go
Snack:  Golden Delicious apple and a protein shake
Snack:  Post-workout recovery drink
Dinner:  Spaghetti (Squash) With Meat Sauce

Breakfast:  2 slices of seeded multigrain bread with raw almond butter and honey, 1/2 Mirandola papaya
Snack:  A couple of handfuls of dried mango 
Lunch:  The second half of last night's deli sandwich
Snack:  Larabar 'Banana Bread' protein bar (I remembered to eat it before I went to the pharmacy!)
Dinner:  Spaghetti (Squash) With Meat Sauce 

My apologies that I didn't do the food prep like I mentioned in last night's post.  Since it's already Thursday tomorrow and is Rik's last office day, I decided not to do a lot of prep this late in the week as he'll be home and can fix things fresh if he wants them.  We threw a lot of food away last week because I didn't plan well having forgotten that he was going to be traveling from the middle of the week on and I didn't finish the food I'd prepared ahead of time.  There are few things I hate more than having to throw away food that's gone bad because I didn't plan properly.  :(  But Sunday will be here shortly, and that is usually the day that I prepare the most food, and I will time myself and give a good and accurate account then that will be easy for you to follow.   It's very similar to this post here, so if you're not sure what I'm talking about, click the link.  I've also found some excellent ideas for to-go breakfasts that I know Rik (and you!) are gonna love, so we'll introduce those this weekend after I have a chance to trial some and find out which are the best.

In the mean time, Friday is coming up quickly, so enjoy your Thursday and I'll talk to you soon!      ~M

Note:  For those of you who have opted to have my posts sent directly to your inbox, I've been told that the links don't work properly.  So don't forget to visit the website from time to time so you don't miss out.  Some of those links will take you to cool new websites I've found (like this one!), or to a different page of this website like a few of the links in today's post.  But no matter how you're following the blog, thank you!  And I hope that you're finding useful and delicious information and with it, better health.  Xoxo