Have you ever had spaghetti squash? It’s a terrific vegetable to try! I received this giant one in a mystery produce box from a produce rescue delivery service. It’s easy to roast and enjoy its stringy goodness.
Nutrients in Spaghetti Squash
People like to use this spaghetti squash place of pasta, like “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) or cauliflower in some pizza crust and mashed potato recipes. Usually, the goal is to reduce carbohydrates or calories. I have mixed feelings about this.
Carbohydrates are not the enemy. They are a great source of energy and our bodies’ preferred source of fuel! In fact, 45 – 65 percent of our calories should be from carbohydrates, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. If you like to exercise, it’s especially important to eat enough carbohydrates.
However, limiting refined carbohydrates from all-purpose flour can be a good idea. I recommend using whole wheat or other grain flours or just more intact grains, like barley, wild rice, farro, and quinoa. Starchy vegetables like winter squash, sweet potatoes, and corn are good sources too.
One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has only 42 calories with 10 grams of carbohydrate (Source: Food Data Central). Reducing the calories in a meal may help someone on their journey to a lower weight. Less carbohydrate may mean someone with diabetes needs less insulin to cover their meal, and insulin can be expensive in the U.S. Spaghetti squash would also be a convenient swap for pasta for people who need a gluten-free diet.
Spaghetti squash is a fun way to eat more vegetables! There are 2 grams of fiber in a cup: not super high, but it’s something. It does not seem to be very high in vitamins and minerals, despite the glowing articles I found on the internet. It does provide a little vitamin C, folate, manganese, and other nutrients.
There are also some phytonutrients: disease-fighting substances found in plants. This huge spaghetti squash was the basis for several meals, so it was pretty economical.
How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash
First, slice it in half with a chef’s knife. Then, scoop out the seeds with a spoon (like cleaning out a pumpkin, but easier).
Brush each half with about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Then, place the halves right side up on a cookie sheet and bake them in a 350 F oven for an hour to an hour and a quarter for a large one.
The next step is to scrape through the squash flesh with a fork, and ta da: spaghetti-like strands!
I had some with a little olive oil, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and nutritional yeast. That was very tasty and has a texture similar to al dente pasta. I also tried it mixed with some whole wheat rotini.
Then, for my lunch, I packed the spaghetti squash with a few vegan meatballs, marinara sauce, herbes de Provence, crushed red pepper, and nutritional yeast. (Yes, the meatballs look a little frosty here because I just pulled them out of the freezer to pack my lunch.)
Then I thought, what else can I do with this if I’m not pretending it’s spaghetti? Maybe it would work in other foods, like salads, or as a topping for tacos?
For breakfast, I cooked it with kidney beans, caramelized onions, and chili powder. Then I made a burrito with these in a whole wheat tortilla, topping with avocado and sriracha sauce.
Spaghetti Squash Recipes
Here are some creative recipes from some Registered Dietitian Nutritionists:
Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Idea: use tofu in place of the egg
Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT
Idea: for the cheese, substitute with a mix of vegan cheese and silken tofu
Dara Gurau RD
Idea: skip the eggs for a plant-based meal
I hope you have enjoyed learning more about spaghetti squash and will give it a try!
Here are some more recipes and posts you may enjoy:
- Savory Butternut Squash and Walnut Flatbread
- Kabocha Squash with Collard Greens and Whole Wheat Pasta
- Stuffed Peppers with Butternut Squash and Quinoa
- How to Cook Acorn Squash
Wondering where to find more recipes? Here are some websites, blogs, and books I recommend: 15 Fantastic Sources for Vegetarian Recipes.
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Originally published 10/12/19. Updated 8/19/2020