Spaghetti squash RULES — it’s a perfect pasta swap that’s completely natural. Once cooked, you scrape out the noodle-like strands, which are remarkably similar in color, width, and texture to regular spaghetti! It can be a little daunting to prepare, though, so I’m giving you a step-by-step Hungry Girl guide to making healthy meals with spaghetti squash. Trust me, it’s worth it
First things first: Why spaghetti squash?
The biggest advantage of using spaghetti squash instead of regular pasta? It’s much lower in calories. One cup of cooked spaghetti has about 210 calories. The same amount of cooked spaghetti squash strands, on the other hand, has just 42 calories! Add a cup of spaghetti squash to a cup of spaghetti, and you’ll DOUBLE your portion but add only around 40 calories. Or you could have three cups of spaghetti squash for just over 120 calories.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not!
P.S. Cauliflower is another good starch swap/meal expander. Check it out!
Step 1: Choose a cooking method
Before you turn your squash into noodles, you’ve gotta cook it until the inside is tender. Most people cook spaghetti squash in the oven, but I’ve also got a fast microwave method and an easy slow-cooker method.
Oven instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave squash for 6 minutes, or until it’s soft enough to cut. Once cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Then fill a large baking pan with ½ inch of water, and place squash halves in the pan, cut sides down.
Bake squash until tender, about 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s finished when you can easily pierce a fork all the way through the flesh. Be careful not to overcook – if you do, the texture will be off.
Microwave instructions: Microwave squash for 6 minutes, or until it’s soft enough to cut. Once it’s cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise, then scoop out and discard seeds. Place half the squash in an extra-large microwave-safe bowl, cut side down, and add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, or until soft. Repeat with another half.
Slow-cooker instructions: Prefer to set it and forget it? Use a slow cooker! Place the whole squash in a slow cooker (4-qt. capacity is best), and add ½ cup water. Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ hours, or until squash is tender (check on the squash after 2 hours – if it’s small, it might be finished). Then cut it in half, and scoop out and discard seeds.
Step 2: Turn the squash into spaghetti noodles
Once cooked, use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands from the squash halves. Place in a strainer to drain excess moisture. Thoroughly blot dry – there will be a lot of moisture! The more liquid you remove, the better your pasta swap will taste.
For more low-carb pasta swaps, check this out!
Step 3: Make it into a meal!
While you can definitely use spaghetti squash as a side dish (just add a bit of light butter and salt!), it makes an amazing main attraction. Here are some Hungry Girl favorites…
Spaghetti Swap & Meatballs. Let’s start with a classic! You can’t go wrong with homemade spaghetti sauce, lean meatballs, and a big mound of noodles.
Creamy Kale Spaghetti Squash. It doesn’t get much trendier than this: spaghetti squash and kale! Plus, you get chicken and cheese. Mmmmm…
Veggie Primavera Spaghetti Squash. You get the fresh taste of primavera pasta, but with a fraction of the calories!
Noodle-Free Chicken Tetrazzini. All the comfort of creamy chicken tetrazzini, and just 334 calories for almost 2 cups! This stuff is out of this world.
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