For those of us who have to watch our calories, especially if you watch your calories closely, you probably have given up calorie-dense pasta. I know I have. 1 tiny cup of pasta is 220 calories. 220 calories! And who do you know that eats just 1 cup of pasta? If you are on a 1,200 calorie per day diet, then 1 lousy cup of plain pasta with no butter or sugar-laden spaghetti sauce is half the calories of 1 meal! I don’t know about you, but 1 cup of pasta doesn’t fill me up nor is it fulfilling. So what if you’re dieting and you need an Italian fix?
Don’t go to the Olive Garden or put a box of pasta in boiling water, go to the store and buy a “Spaghetti Squash”! I had just recently learned of spaghetti squash while perusing recipes. The inside of the squash tears into spaghetti-like strands, so hence the name. While out grocery shopping, I found a spaghetti squash at a Kroger, at the checkout, I found that they were charging $1.99/lb and my squash was going to cost $6.00, so it went back to the produce section. Later I found a spaghetti squash at Trader Joe’s and it was $1.99 for the squash, so Trader Joe’s got my money.
Easy to Cook!
All you have to do is slice it length-wise and clean out the seeds and the strings. It is just like a pumpkin… in fact, like a pumpkin, I separated the seeds and toasted them in the oven with a little Pam on top to toast them. Not sure what the calorie count is for the seeds, but they were delicious. The calorie count for the seeds is not included in the numbers that I will mention below.
After you clean out the strings and seeds, put the squash cut side down in 1 – 1.5 inches of water in a microwavable dish. Microwave for 12 minutes. Drain the water, pick up the squash with a potholder watching out for the steam, then get a fork and run it across the inside of the squash. It will shred effortlessly into spaghetti-like strands. 1/2 of a squash will feed one person. I’m single, so I cooked 1/2 and put the other 1/2 away for a later meal. If you cooking for more than one person, then you can cut it in two and place both halves face down in some water in a pan in your oven. I have not cooked it this way yet, but it is similar to cooking acorn squash in the oven: preheat to 350 degrees, put squash cut side down into a pan with water, and cook until tender, about 45 minutes.
Spaghetti Squash – 1 cup: 41 calories & 10g carbs
Regular Spaghetti – 1 cup: 220 calories & 40g carbs
Look at those numbers: what is not to like?
For my dinner this evening, I had 1/2 of a spaghetti squash which yielded between 2 & 3 cups (82-123 calories). I added about 5 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Italian Bruschetta with a little added Basil for more a Italian kick. The Bruschetta was 25 calories for 2 tablespoons, so for simplicity, let’s say I had 75 calories. This is just 200 calories for something that tasted every bit as good! Pasta has very little taste anyway and it has to be jazzed up with sauce or butter.
3 cups of spaghetti squash 123 calories
5-6 tablespoons bruschetta 75 calories
2 slices 35 calorie bread 70 calories
1 TSPN Vegan butter (spread very thin) 100 calories
Comparing “pasta” for “pasta”: 3 cups of regular pasta @ 220 calories per cup = 660 calories. 3 cups of spaghetti squash @ 41 calories – 123 calories. Right there you can save 537 calories. Have your Italian fix and save calories by using spaghetti squash!
I urge you to read the labels for your sauce, most of the store-bought kind I found has a very high calorie and high sugar content. There are lots of sauce that includes meat and cheese adding all kinds of fat and calories. If you buy one of these, you will defeat the purpose! I used bruschetta, for its rich taste and low calorie content, I also added extra basil to add even more taste. For those of you who are vegan, this recipe should work for you also. Most importantly, this recipe is filling and fulfilling and is low calorie as well. So next time you need an Italian fix, then have some spaghetti squash, it tastes even better when you take away the guilt!