Listen up pasta lovers! If you are looking to keep Italian inspired dishes on your weekly menu but need a low-carb alternative from time to time, spaghetti squash recipes should be your go-to. “What’s so great about spaghetti squash is that it’s less than a quarter of the calories and carbohydrates contained in regular pasta. You still get to enjoy a great substitution,” says Danielle Pashko, holistic nutritionist and author of Breaking Your Fat Girl Habits. Read on for more reasons to incorporate spaghetti squash in your meals and get started with some spaghetti squash recipes below.
Pasta’s Healthier Cousin
Kelly Boyer, founder and chief executive officer of PALETA and executive chef and licensed integrative nutritionist, is constantly finding new ways to give dishes a healthy makeover. Boyer loves incorporating squash, because of the bold, bright, and rich taste, as well as the number of nutrients you can reap per serving. “Spaghetti squash is superior when it comes to health benefits, compared to your pantry pasta. One cup of squash totals 42 kcal and ten grams of carbs, compared to pasta’s 220 kcal and 42 grams of carbs. Squash gives you just as much fiber for significantly fewer calories, which means feeling full without eating hundreds of calories,” says Boyer. One cup of spaghetti squash contains 9 percent of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, as well as a range of nutrients, including vitamins C and A, potassium, and calcium.
Spaghetti Squash Benefits
Eating squash regularly has also been linked to improving colon health and aiding in weight loss. Robyn Youkilis, an AADP certified health coach and author of Thin From Within, lists a spaghetti squash recipe as one of her go-to suggestions while on a successful weight loss journey. “When I’m craving pasta, I often find that what I really want is heaps of tomato sauce, so I’ll make spaghetti squash in the style of classic bolognese. I switch the ratio so [that] there’s about twice as many veggies as meat, and suddenly, what used to be a classic “diet no-no” food becomes a comforting weight loss–friendly weeknight dinner,” says Youkilis.
Below are two simple recipes (plus a few recipe hacks) that will get you excited about swamping out the pasta, without sacrificing the taste.
Lunchy Brunchy Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats
By: Kelly Boyer
- 2 small/medium spaghetti squash, or 1 large (approximately 1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
- 6 strips of cooked nitrate-free bacon or Canadian bacon, chopped
- 4 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2 scallions, chopped on the bias
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Poke several holes lengthwise around the squash. This marks where you will split the squash in two after heating.
- Roast the squash on a sheet pan for 15 minutes or until the skin is soft enough to cut. Remove from heat.
- Cut the squash in two and remove seeds with a large spoon.
- Brush the insides with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast your the two halves face down for 30 minutes or until fork tender.
- Scrape the squash meat with a fork to simulate spaghetti-like strings.
- Top with gruyere and bacon. Make two indents in each half and crack a whole egg in each.
- Return to the oven, and bake for ten minutes or just until egg whites are set.
- Serve with chopped scallions and freshly ground black pepper.
- Optional: Serve with salsa, replace bacon with cooked ground turkey or sausage, and add your favorite cooked vegetables.
Spaghetti Squash Bolognese
By: Robyn Youkilis
- Coconut oil
- 1 spaghetti squash, halved
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- Rosemary leaves from two sprigs, finely chopped or left whole
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped 1 1/2 pounds ground meat (such as turkey, beef, or lamb)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rub coconut oil on the cut sides of the squash and season with salt and black pepper. Set the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until fork-tender. Use a fork to scrape the squash flesh into strands. Discard the skin.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, with a pinch of salt and cook, and stir until the onion is translucent (about ten minutes).
- Add the rosemary, celery, and carrots, and season with a bit more salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring, for five minutes more. Add the ground meat and cook until browned, seven to ten minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and season with salt, black pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Simmer the sauce for five to ten more minutes.
- Serve the sauce over the cooked spaghetti squash immediately, or reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and keep warm for up to 20 minutes before serving.
Robyn’s Other Variations to Try
Vegetarian: Swap the meat in the recipe for some vegetarian-style meatballs or crumbled tempeh.
Pesto Perfection: Mix roasted spaghetti squash with one to two spiralized zucchini. Toss with pesto and top with sauteed shrimp.
Put an egg on it: While you’re roasting the spaghetti squash, roast a tray of cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil in a separate pan. Top the squash with the tomatoes, a poached egg, some snipped chives, and black pepper.
The beauty of spaghetti squash is its versatility. You can really use it as a substitute for pasta and pair it with your favorite ingredients and sauces. Get creative with spaghetti squash recipes and enjoy the low-carb alternative.