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Posted on Oct 20, 2011 in Food | 62 comments

A Worthy Replacement

There’s no denying the fact that I am a pasta lover.

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Rigatoni, farfalle, rotini, spaghetti, linguini, rice noodles, egg noodles…

Take a bite!

Just give me some sort of noodle and some kind of sauce to go alongside it, and I am a happy, happy girl. Unfortunately, eating tons of this carb-y goodness isn’t exactly conducive to the whole weight loss thing I’m still attempting to complete. Especially when the aforementioned sauces generally tend to be buttery and creamy and oh-so-artery-cloggingly delicious.

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While I do have a few healthy pasta recipes that are delicious and nutritious in my arsenal, I still have a big problem with proper portioning. A mere two ounces of spaghetti is supposed to be a serving, and that’s simply never enough.

Day 206 - Pasta in a Jar.
(photo by ben)

So a couple nights ago, I finally decided to bite the bullet and try out yet another fad I’ve been seeing grace the healthy living blogosphere for a while: spaghetti squash!

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I recognize that these photos look like ish because I forgot to swap lenses, but please just bear with me. After all, I’ve got a MIRACLE to share here!

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Because surely nothing less than a miracle could be responsible for a vegetable tasting almost exactly like pasta, right? Label me officially flabbergasted.

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I split a spaghetti squash in half, de-seeded it, and sprinkled salt & pepper over it. I then threw both halves onto a baking sheet and baked/roasted/whatevered them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes… but then got really, really impatient when it wasn’t cooked by then. Soooo, I put them on a plate and finished them in the microwave – 5 minutes on high with a paper towel draped on top. Obviously if you were a non-crazy person, you might actually look up appropriate cooking times and/or methods, but hey, it worked out!

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Once cooked through, the flesh becomes soft and the spaghetti-shaped strands (hence, er, the name. Duh.) just pull away from the sides. You get a TON of “noodles” out of a single squash. The picture above shows the amount I got from only one of the halves!

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I cooked up a sauce with ground turkey, onion, garlic, broccoli, and spinach — in a tomato sauce + alfredo sauce base. Then I added a splash of almond milk to thin it out, seasoned it, and voila! I won’t lie: of course the texture is a bit different than real pasta. But the squash tastes SO much like spaghetti, I honestly could NOT believe my tastebuds! It barely has a squashy (haha) flavor at all, and pairs SO well with sauce. I was hesitant at first to jump on the spaghetti squash bandwagon, but now? Well, consider me a convert.

spaghetti squash
(source)

Want to hear the best part? A cup of spaghetti squash has — are you ready for this? — 42 calories. FORTY-TWO CALORIES! Compare that to the 200+ calories you’d likely be looking at with the same amount of whole wheat pasta, then go try this magical vegetable for yourself. I may still need to work on my portioning problems, but at least with this I can overeat guilt-free, hahaha.

Have you tried spaghetti squash before? Have you used it as a pasta replacement/substitution? There are only a few substitutions that are really worthwhile (plain greek yogurt for sour cream is one of them), but this has definitely made the list.

62 Comments

  1. Ugh your post realllly makes me want to try it but I have a visceral reaction to sqaush (except yummy zucchini). I just can’t bring myself to do it.. maybe smothered in sauce? I am such a wuss.

    I’m anti-substitution in general because I harp on what I’m missing, but I try most of them at least once… even sour cream/greek yogurt was not close enough for picky me.

    • I mean… I’ve always pretty much used pasta as a vehicle for the sauce. So just smother it good and give it a try! If you like zucchini I can’t see why you wouldn’t like this! πŸ˜€

      • Fine, I’ll try it πŸ™‚

  2. I am also shocked and amazed! I have heard of spaghetti squash before but I didn’t know anything but its name. Congratulations on finding this delightful miracle!

      • Come prepare some for me to eat:)

  3. I recently had the same experience, I was eating my spaghetti squash “spaghetti” and thinking, no way can I be this satisfied from something that isn’t pasta! But I was, it was amazing and I’m definitely hooked now and tell everyone about the wonders of spaghetti squash! And like the previous commenter, I am not a fan of squash at all generally!

    In other news, I just found your blog last night and I find it really inspirational, I am just starting my WLJ, down 14.6 lbs w/ a lot more to go, so reading other ppl’s blogs definitely helps. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Jes! Congratulations on your weight loss so far — 15 lbs is no joke! And like you, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be extolling the virtues of spag. squash to EVERYONE I know, hahahaha.

  4. I love it. Everyone else in my family hates it. So, I can usually find a few small squash(es?) and make myself one at a time and get two to three servings from it. Great for leftovers! I just made a great dish with spaghetti squash, spinach, artichokes, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Delicious!

  5. I have been eating spaghetti squash for the past three years. I love it. You can throw anything on it!!!!

  6. “Label me officially flabbergasted.” No better way to put it. My exact sentiments the first time I tried it, and now it’s my favorite winter squash! LOVE this stuff.

    • I don’t know why I put off trying it for so long!

  7. It’s not my favorite squash, but I buy one every week and always end up eating it. I can’t stand the texture of gluten-free pastas and it is WAY better than those for sure.

    • I’ve tried gluten-free pasta before and I agree, although I’m not allergic/intolerant/scared of gluten so I might have been biased going into it. Either way, this stuff is awesome. I feel like I can’t even compare it to traditional squash (butternut, summer, etc.) because it’s just so different!

  8. I wonder if I could trick Dan Into thinking it is real pasta… Have you tried any dried squash or spinach pasta? Do those exist?

    • I don’t know about squash noodles, but I’ve had spinach noodles before. They’re really good! But of course, they’re still just like regular noodles with the flour and all, just with some spinach added. I think he’d be more likely to try this than a green noodle! Hahaha.

    • Gina’s recipes are the BEST. That looks amazing. Definitely going on the list.

  9. I did not even know such a thing existed!

  10. Much like sushi, I could eat pasta and red sauce every day of MY LIFE!

    Spaghetti squash is very tasty…and one of those dishes even better left over. Doesn’t replace pasta in my life necessarily, but I dig it nonetheless!

    PS – Great thought adding a meat sauce. I shall try!

    • I’ve never tried those, although I’d be willing to give them a shot. I’ve never seen them in the store before though — where do you get them?

      • Also, they are found in the refrigerated section. They come in a liquid. Which, being the food connoisseur that you are, you were probably smart enough to realize that given that they’re tofu. I, on the other hand, struggled with this :).

        • Haha, you give me too much credit. I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought about that at all!

    • Ok, after your glowing review of spaghetti squash, I have to try it! Sounds yummy.

      I was going to post about the Tofu Shirataki noodles too! Yes they are super low calorie (only 40 cal for the whole bag) and make a lot (my husband and I can split a bag). You have to rinse them really well first, cut them, then I use them in stir fries (just throw in towards the end like you would rice noodles). They taste completely normal as long as you have at least a little sauce. The texture is softer than regular pasta but it doesn’t put me off.

      Gretchen, look for them in the organic refrigerated section. My store has them way up high on the shelves.

    • Spaghetti squash CAKE?! I guess that makes sense, cause I’ve baked with zucchini before. I foresee much more squash in my future, so I’ll definitely have to give this a try!

    • Thank you for sharing my recipes! And Gretchen.. you HAVE to try the cake. It is dense like a carrot cake and sooooo delicious!

  11. I love spag squash! I usually eat about 1 a week! I always just nuke it in the microwave and cover it in marinara sauce and nutritional yeast. YUM!

  12. I absolutely love spaghetti squash! Sometimes I actually crave it. I buy small ones so that I can eat half of it guilt-free. The only part I hate about any squash is trying to cut it. Apparently my knives aren’t very sharp because it takes me a long time to get through those suckers.

    • I noticed that when I was hacking apart this sucker too! Maybe they’re just an especially thick-shelled squash? I had to break out my BFK (big frackin’ knife) to get through it.

  13. I’ve been wanting to try this for sooo long! There is a restaurant here in Phoenix that serves spaghetti squash like spaghetti and I always want to order it, but then choose something else. I didn’t realize that it was THAT low in calories either–I mean I knew it was better than pasta, but now I REALLY need to make this ASAP!

    • I didn’t look up the caloric information until AFTER I had already eaten it, either! So it wasn’t a case of me trying to force myself to like it just because I knew it was good for me and low in calories, I loved it regardless. πŸ˜€

    • PS: I totally bought that sushi shirt. Plus another one. I blame you for this! πŸ™‚

      • YAY!!! Their clothes are so cheap and so cute and so SMALL. I remember when I was first able to fit into anything there, I went a little nuts with it–so it is an accomplishment, therefore the money spent is justified! Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that the $40 I blew there the other day is justified πŸ™‚

  14. I have tried it, but I have never made it myself. Delicious!!

  15. I like to mix in a serving of angel hair pasta with a cup of spaghetti squash. Gives it that starchy pasta taste but you get a ton of it.

  16. Isn’t it the greatest? I usually avoid pasta because a real serving is so little food, but you can load your plate down with spaghetti squash (plus other delicious veggies) and have a filling, big dinner.

    Reminds me to get another one at the farmers market this weekend!

  17. Love me some spaghetti squash. I’ll roast or microwave mine, then throw it in a saute pan with some marinara sauce, seasonings and protein of choice: grilled chicken for a “fake” chicken parm, or with ground turkey for my healthier version of a meat ragu sauce. I used to pair it with Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs before going gluten-free. SO GOOD.

  18. I was squash-resistant my whole life… seriously, I think it drove my mom nuts that no one in my house would even consider eating squash when I was growing up. Last year, I decided to foray into spaghetti squash after having banned pasta from my life (we had to break off our relationship cold turkey because one serving was not enough for me to ever feel satisfied!). Anyhow, love, love, love spaghetti squash and I’ve ventured forward to butternut squash too…. awesome cubed and roasted in the oven, cut skinny and baked like fries, or mushed up in ravioli (if you can afford the carb fest!). Also, I now like sweet potatoes too.. I wonder what kind of new squashes I will be trying this winter/fall? : )

    • Mmmm, butternut squash is deeeelicious. And so comforting in the cold winter months!

  19. I remember being actually a tad disappointed when I tried spaghetti squash! sure, it tasted good and all, but it didnΒ΄t taste like pasta at all to me!
    But as I said, its still yummy!
    (loved yesterdays vlog :D)

  20. I LOVE spaghetti squash! And really, my favorite parts of eating pasta are the sauce and the CHEESE, so it’s a totally perfect replacement for me because I don’t really miss the actual pasta itself all that much (if at all).

    I also do the greek yogurt for sour cream swap in certain things (soups, chili, etc)…but if I’m eating a baked potato, I want REAL sour cream, so I get the light stuff.

  21. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS WAS POSSIBLE!!!!!

    In a hilarious twist of events, one of my coworkers thought it was strange that I didn’t know when I told her in my most fascinated voice about this. Looks like I’m behind on the times. :s

  22. I love spaghetti squash!!! It’s so easy (in the micro) to cook and really does take the place of pasta. I’ve even mixed it with pasta so that the afformentioned 1 oz really does feel like a lot. Try it in a stir fry! Soooooo good!!! And holds up well for left overs πŸ™‚

  23. Hi!

    My name is Martha Jane adn I blog over at toopuffyduffy.blogspot.com.

    I’ve been lurking for a while on your blog and decided to introduce myself! πŸ™‚

    That looks delicious! I’m pretty sure I need to try spaghetti squash, like, THIS WEEKEND!

    Have a good one!

  24. I’ve been resistant to try spaghetti squash because I’m not a huge squash fan. But now reading your post and the comments I feel like I should be a grown-up and try it. So thank you!!

    • Psh, being a grown-up is overrated. But you should definitely still try the squash! πŸ˜€

  25. I’ll be honest, I had one sitting on my counter and it went bad, so I bought another and THAT one is just sitting there. Maybe I’ll cook it up tonight along with the artichokes that are going bad in my fridge.

    • Hahaha, I play that game all the time. “How much of this produce that is about to go bad can I use all in one go?”

  26. I always see healthy living bloggers eating spaghetti squash, but I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Thanks for the honest review! I’ll have to check it out, because I have the same problem with portion control and pasta!

  27. I have to give this another shot, maybe i need to add more on top of it. Hey what did you decide to wear for the themed shower?

    • Haven’t decided yet, but I need to figure something out soon! Party is a week from tomorrow!

  28. I love spaghetti squash! I use it as pasta too – with marinara and parm, and with cheese, broccoli, and shrimp!

  29. I saw the spaghetti squash out in the produce section at TJ’s tonight and thought of you.. and bought it! I feel like kind of a numbnuts though, for some reason I thought I would be able to see the spaghetti-ish strands when it was raw and I mistook the yucky stringy-seedy stuff for the good stuff and didn’t remove it and THEN tried to eat it after only roasting for 30 min. do not recommend! But I get it now. I was too impatient to wait for it so I cooked a replacement fast dinner but I’ll be saving this for later! Thanks for reminding me that I’ve been meaning to try this veggie! πŸ˜€ Also, one of my fave substitutes is tempeh, have you ever had it? I sub it in for meat a lot and I think it has a more yummeh texture/flavurr than tofu. And it’s way easy to work with; that was my quickie meal while I roasted the spag squash! Also, I thought of you when I walked into TJ’s and there was a giant display of stalks of brussel sprouts! I’ve never seen them sold like that before, so coooool!

    • I’ve been seeing those everywhere lately. SO cool right? They stay fresh way longer that way. Also, I totally hear you on the impatience thing. I mean… I couldn’t even wait for mine to finish in the oven so I microwaved them hahaha.

  30. The only thing I do different with my spaghetti squash is I misto it with olive oil and also put garlic powder on it too. But then, garlic is a condiment in my house not a spice!
    I absolutely love sphaghetti squash under my sphaghetti sauce! And so much more filling then regular pasta!

  31. Hi Gretchen!
    I love your blog…. So much interesting stuff and it’s very inspiring to look at your weight loss journey. I just stumbled on your blog and will be taking advantage of all of your knowledge.

    Sarah

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