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Using Spaghetti Squash as “noodles”

baked-spaghetti-squash-modified

Like many parents, I sometimes struggle with feeding my kids healthy food. Overall, we are fairly healthy eaters, but there are times when either I get in a rut (so that we are eating the same things over and over) or I have a nagging feeling that my kids aren’t eating enough variety.

I mean, how do you take food that kids love and modify it a little to make it even healthier but still really yummy?  Most parents out there know that as soon as you try to sneak something green or healthy into your child’s diet, they will find it in a heartbeat and protest (loudly).  I’m pretty lucky in that out of three boys, I have one who is a fairly adventurous eater, one who will eat almost anything as long as it’s covered in ketchup, and one who will walk out to the garden, pick some kale and eat it right then and there (although he eats very little variety otherwise).  With so much variety in preferences between my kids, finding dishes that they will all eat without complaint can be a challenge.

Spaghetti is one food that all three of my kids will eat without complaint!  I used to make it with purely store bought ingredients: white noodles, sauce with tons of ingredients, beef, etc.  Over the last several years, I have been working to change our diet so that we are eating less processed ingredients.  For example, now I buy whole wheat or whole grain noodles with only one ingredient (100% whole wheat).  I now also either buy organic sauce with few ingredients (when I’m in a hurry) or make my own spaghetti sauce so that I know exactly what is in it.

I thought it was a pure stroke of genius about 5 years ago when a friend of mine suggested to me that I bake a spaghetti squash and use the flesh as noodles for our family spaghetti dinner.  I had never used a spaghetti squash before and had no idea how to cook or use one.  I mean, look at this winter squash – it is tough!

After some research and experimentation, I finally figured it out!  And the best part: I combine whole wheat noodles and spaghetti squash noodles in our family spaghetti dinner to provide even more health benefits to my family.  The kids love it!

Here’s how to cook and use spaghetti squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Slice the squash in half: use a sharp knife to slice the squash in half lengthwise (from stem to tail). Spaghetti squash are very tough, so work slowly and cautiously. I find it easier to cut the stem off width-wise to create a flat end. Then I stand the squash up on the flat end and cut lengthwise from the tail down.
     
  3. Scoop out the seeds. Use a sturdy spoon (I usually use our everyday tablespoons) to scoop out the seeds and stringy part of the flesh. Be careful not to scoop into the flesh itself because that’s what we want to bake and use.
  4. Place the squash in a roasting pan. Take the squash halves and place them cut side down in a roasting pan.
  5. Add a little water to the roasting pan. This is optional, because the squash will cook without the water (be sure to spray the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t stick). However, I find that adding just enough water to cover the bottom of the roasting pan helps the squash steam and be more tender. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Smaller squash cook faster, so check on it about halfway through cooking time to gauge how quickly the squash is cooking. The squash is done once it’s tender and easy to poke with a fork down to the peel.  If cooked too long, the “noodles” become soggy and lose their texture.
  7. Use a fork to pull the flesh away from the peel and to separate the strands.
  8. Serve immediately. I like to throw in some spaghetti squash with some spaghetti noodles and cover with spaghetti sauce. Yum! Any leftovers of the squash can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Baked Spaghetti Squash
Print Recipe
Baked spaghetti squash has flesh similar to spaghetti noodles, and due to it's mild flavor, fits well with hearty dishes and sauces like spaghetti sauce.
Servings Prep Time
4-5 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
50-60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-5 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
50-60 minutes
Baked Spaghetti Squash
Print Recipe
Baked spaghetti squash has flesh similar to spaghetti noodles, and due to it's mild flavor, fits well with hearty dishes and sauces like spaghetti sauce.
Servings Prep Time
4-5 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
50-60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-5 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
50-60 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Slice the squash in half: use a sharp knife to slice the squash in half lengthwise (from stem to tail). Spaghetti squash are very tough, so work slowly and cautiously. I find it easier to cut the stem off width-wise to create a flat end. Then I stand the squash up on the flat end and cut lengthwise from the tail down.
  3. Scoop out the seeds. Use a sturdy spoon (I usually use our everyday tablespoons) to scoop out the seeds and stringy part of the flesh. Be careful not to scoop into the flesh itself because that's what we want to bake and use.
  4. Place the squash in a roasting pan. Take the squash halves and place them cut side down in a roasting pan.
  5. Add a little water to the roasting pan. This is optional, because the squash will cook without the water (be sure to spray the bottom of the pan so it doesn't stick). However, I find that adding just enough water to cover the bottom of the roasting pan helps the squash steam and be more tender. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Smaller squash cook faster, so check on it about halfway through cooking time to gauge how quickly the squash is cooking. The squash is done once it's tender and easy to poke with a fork down to the peel. If cooked too long, the "noodles" become soggy and lose their texture.
  7. Use a fork to pull the flesh away from the peel and to separate the strands.
  8. Serve immediately. I like to throw in some spaghetti squash with some spaghetti noodles and cover with spaghetti sauce. Yum! Any leftovers of the squash can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
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3 Comments:

  1. Super informative. I was always wondering how spaghetti squash worked. Definitely need to try this!

  2. Linda Manns Linneman

    This is such a great idea. My family loved it. Thank you again for sharing this

  3. Linda Manns Linneman

    We have really been working on eating healthier. This sounds so good. Thank you for sharing this recipe. God Bless

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