I used to be a pretty terrible cook. After a long day of work, my go-to recipe was pasta with red sauce. If I was feeling particularly healthy, said pasta would be whole wheat. The red sauce always came from a jar, and was usually whatever was cheapest or on sale. It’s no wonder I usually ended up going out to eat in those days! Nowadays, I love cooking healthy meals at home. I’m still not a fantastic chef, but by sticking to simple recipes with high quality ingredients, I have fooled a few people. Today’s winter squash recipe includes a spaghetti that is a veggie – not a pasta – and a healthier version of red sauce. Here are the three healthy highlights from the ingredients in this dish:
- Red Sauce: This version is packed with fresh veggies and is healthier than most jars of sauce from the store which can be highly processed, loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup and high in sodium.
- Spaghetti Squash – This winter squash is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which helps protect against heart disease and certain cancers. The omegas also help promote healthy brain function, which is one reason why everyone should be taking a high quality fish oil supplement!
- Navy Beans – These legumes are an excellent source of cholesterol lowering fiber, and minerals such as phosphorus, copper, magnesium and iron.
Baked Spaghetti Squash with Red Sauce
Ingredients – 4 to 6 servings:
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (mostly drained)
- 1 14 oz. can of navy beans (drained)
- 1 large carrot
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2-4 fresh basil leaves – optional
- salt & pepper
- Pour in the navy beans and keep on low until squash is ready
- Pour in diced tomatoes and oregano and keep on medium high heat until it starts to simmer, then turn to low
- Pour into saute pan and heat on medium for about 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper
- Chop the carrot, red pepper and onion into pieces small enough to fit into your food processor – throw it all in there along with your garlic and pulse until everything is easily chopped
- While your squash is roasting – make your red sauce
- Roast for 40-60 minutes, checking and turning every 15 minutes; it is done when you can easily slice a knife all the way through it
- Place in baking dish with about 1/8 inch of water
- Pierce the squash several times on all sides with a fork or knife
- Set oven to 350 degrees
- Once squash is cooked and cooled enough for you to be able to handle it, slice off the end with the stem, then slice in half length-wise
- Use a fork to gently pull out any seeds
- Then, use a fork to scrape out the flesh of the squash – it should come out as strands and look like spaghetti noodles
- Place the squash into a casserole dish and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Pour red sauce over squash
- Sprinkle cheese evenly across the top
- Bake for another 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted, garnish with fresh basil then enjoy!
Health Coach’s Tips:
- The squash process is a little time-consuming, so start roasting it as soon as possible in the evening in advance of dinner. It helps to have help with the seeds and scooping, so tackling that with 2 sets of hands makes it go faster.
- The easy red sauce is a great replacement to store-bought sauce that often contains a lot of added sugar. You can sneak in extra veggies; try different combinations and see what you like best.
Questions for you: What was your go-to dish when you first started cooking? What is it now?