Sunday evenings growing up, we would always make macaroni and cheese. Pasta was a special treat in our house, so my sister and I would always look forward to this tradition. My parents used to call me the “pasta queen” as I would always choose a plate of pasta over anything else! When I got diagnosed with diabetes, and cut out all grains and sugars, I discovered spaghetti squash. This vegetable-turned-pasta quickly became my new favorite. I still remember the first time my husband, then boyfriend, was served a plate of squash “noodles” at my parents, needless to say, he has been happily eating it since!
I was so confused when I heard of turning squash into spaghetti so I wanted to provide step by step instructions for cooking a spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is a household favorite and can be eaten as a grain and gluten free alternative to pasta. My favorite way to eat it is with fresh basil pesto (try my arugula basil pesto) and parmesan cheese shavings. Sometimes I even turn spaghetti squash into baked mac and cheese! Spaghetti squash is very simple to make and you can add any of your favorite pasta toppings to make a nutritious, yet delicious meal. With fall and winter approaching, this is comfort food at its best!
Spaghetti Squash Baking Essentials
Choosing a squash
- Firm and heavy, considering the size.
- Oblong in shape, rather than round.
- Small spots or marks are fine throughout the squash, but large blotches or marks are not preferred.
- Squashes will range in color but a golden, yellow squash will be the best. A creamy white colored squash is usually out of season or bad quality.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Wash and rinse spaghetti squash.
- Using the tip of a knife, make about 10 (depending on the size) slices in the skin of the spaghetti squash. This allows heat to escape during baking.
- Place the squash on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 35-50 minutes, depending on the size of the spaghetti squash.
- Remove from the oven and allow squash to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Cut off both ends of the squash. Slice in half, lengthwise.
- Use a spoon to remove seeds and "stringy" insides.
- Once squash is "cleaned" of seeds, use a fork to scrap the sides, moving from top towards the middle of the squash.
- The squash will flake into spaghetti-like strings.
- Top or sautéed with desire sauce or flavors.
- Spaghetti squash will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Squashes range in size, therefore giving an accurate baking time is difficult.
- It is better to undercook the spaghetti squash originally, baking for a second time if necessary. Overlooked spaghetti squash will be mushy, resembling the consistency of a mashed potato versus spaghetti noodles.
- If your spaghetti squash does not flake easily after baking, simply place it top down on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (depending on the size).
- Many recommend cutting the squash in half before baking. Although this will shorten the cooking time, it will also produce a drying squash and many times it is difficult & dangerous to cut a hard squash.
- Buying squash in season will give you the best flavor and “spaghetti” like qualities!
Why eliminate grains?
Grains even those marketed as “healthy whole grains” are processed and refined. Processing removes the bran, fiber, vitamins, minerals & enzymes necessary to digest the gluten and metabolize the glucose in grains. Flours, even those that are gluten-free, are still highly processed and full of carbohydrates.
Foods high in carbohydrates (measured in grams) greatly spike your blood sugar creating a need for more insulin. Excess insulin is stored in the body as fat.
Glucose cannot enter into the cells without insulin. Insulin is like a gate keeper, opening the door to allow glucose into the cells to maintain life and energy. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar overloads the body’s capacity for taking in glucose. When too much glucose is consumed, insulin cannot manage it fast enough. The cells finally give up becoming insulin resistant—eventually leading to diabetes, obesity, etc.
Insulin is the master fat storage hormone. A person with high levels of insulin, created by an over-consumption of carbohydrates and sugar, will not be able to loose the weight. The consumed carbohydrates instantly turn to glucose which is stored as fat—no, butter does not make you fat!
Choosing to eat foods low in carbohydrates and sugar, but high in quality fats in and proteins, will satisfy your appetite and greatly improve your health and future!
Nutrition of spaghetti squash versus pasta
Eating a live food is always a good choice over something eating something packaged or processed. Live foods are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.
- 1 cup cooked spaghetti squash—10 g carbohydrates
- 1 cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti—37 g carbohydrates
- 1 cup cooked spaghetti—43 g carbohydrates