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Healthy Altitudes

Spaghetti Squash with a Semi-Homemade Sauce

Spaghetti Squash Featured Image

Spaghetti Squash with a Semi-Homemade Sauce

Semi-homemade meals are some of my favorites to make because they have the comfort of a homemade meal with a lot less of the work. This spaghetti squash with a semi-homemade sauce is a delicious take on spaghetti and meatballs, with a few extra veggies hidden in there.

Keep on reading to learn all about spaghetti squash and its nutritional benefits!

All About Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a delicious ingredient that looks just like the name describes. When you cut open the squash, the inside flesh can be teased out to look like strands of spaghetti. It is a winter vegetable, although you can often buy it at other times of the year as well.

Fiber

All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of fiber. Grains and starchy foods (like pasta) can also contain some fiber, but this isn’t always guaranteed. In fact, most white pastas have been processed so much that all of the fiber has been removed. So, if you replace your usual white pasta with spaghetti squash, you will instantly increase your fiber intake.

Fiber is important for your digestive health. It helps keep you regular, and it also supports the natural microbiome living in your gut (a.k.a. gut bacteria).

Vitamins and Minerals

Spaghetti squash contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. For example, it has a good amount of vitamin C; this vitamin is important for your immune system. It is also a good source of manganese. This is a mineral that you may not have heard of, but it is important for building many different tissues in your body.

We need a bunch of different vitamins and minerals for our bodies to function properly. Thus, spaghetti squash can become one small (and delicious) part of a varied diet that provides everything you need to live a healthy life.

Using Spaghetti Squash as a Pasta Substitute

This ingredient can be prepared in multiple ways, but it is traditionally used as a substitute for pasta (i.e. spaghetti). Some people with certain health conditions may not be able to enjoy the usual wheat pasta, so this vegetable allows them to still enjoy a pasta dish. Others may want to reduce their carbohydrate intake, and spaghetti squash can help with that goal.

Naturally Gluten-Free

Since spaghetti squash is a vegetable, it is naturally gluten-free. Gluten is only found in wheat, rye, and barley, which are all grains. So, people with celiac disease or another gluten intolerance can enjoy spaghetti squash as a delicious pasta substitute.

If you recently switched to a gluten-free diet, you may be a little disappointed with spaghetti squash as a true substitute. While it looks similar, it doesn’t have quite the same texture or flavor as regular pasta. Yet I still recommend giving spaghetti squash a try because it is an easy way to add an extra vegetable to your gluten-free meal and still enjoy a traditional pasta dish.

Lower in Carbohydrates

Spaghetti squash is much lower in carbohydrates than regular wheat spaghetti. One cup of spaghetti squash has about 10 grams of carbs, while one cup of regular spaghetti has around 40 grams of carbs.

Now carbohydrates are not inherently bad- our bodies require carbohydrates for energy and many other important functions. However, some people may want to cut down on their carbohydrate intake for certain health conditions, and this substitute can help with that.

When you substitute spaghetti squash for regular pasta, consider whether your pasta dish is still satisfying. You may not feel completely full after eating spaghetti squash with a small amount of pasta sauce. So, you can pair this recipe with some fresh garlic bread, or perhaps serve your pasta sauce with half spaghetti squash and half regular pasta. Do whatever works for your appetite and taste preferences!

Making a Semi-Homemade Pasta Sauce

I grew up watching The Food Network, and one of my favorite shows was Semi-Homemade Cooking. I thought it was so clever that you could make a “homemade” meal without cooking every single thing from scratch. I’ve incorporated this concept into my recipe to help you cook up a flavorful and nutritious pasta sauce without a ton of work involved.

By adding some easy ingredients to a premade pasta sauce, you can enhance the nutrition of your sauce while also adding extra flavor.

Semi-Homemade Sauce

Boosting the Nutritional Value

I added mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers to my store bought pasta sauce. By doing this, I added new vitamins and fiber into my sauce.

Adding multiple vegetables or herbs will also add new colors to your sauce. This is important for two reasons. First, it looks pretty, so you’ll want to eat your meal even more! Second, each color of ingredient offers unique nutritional benefits.

You definitely don’t have to use the same vegetables that I did. In fact, I recommend that you customize this sauce by using the vegetables, herbs, or other ingredients that you love most!

Adding Flavor

Store bought sauces taste fine, but we can make them taste even better with our own additions. Ingredients like onions, garlic, bell peppers, basil, and olives are all flavor-packed foods that will enhance the taste of your pasta sauce.

Spaghetti Squash with a Semi-Homemade Sauce

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour      Prep: 20 min     Cook: 40 min

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jar store bought pasta sauce
Spaghetti squash after roasting

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half. Then, drizzle each half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place each half flesh-side down on a lined baking sheet and roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, or until fork slides through skin with a gentle push.
  3. Preheat a large sauté pan. Add a couple teaspoons of oil and add ground beef. Cook until browned and no pink remains.
  4. Remove beef from pan. Add vegetables and sauté until soft and slightly browned. Once cooked, return beef to pan and add pasta sauce. Heat until warmed throughout.
  5. Once squash has been removed from oven and cooled, use a fork to scoop out the stringy flesh. Separate out any seeds you don’t want in with your “spaghetti.”
  6. To serve, place about 1 cup of squash on plate. Top with about ¾-1 cup pasta sauce. Enjoy!

Want to make this delicious, nutritious recipe at home?

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