Tag Archives: healthy eating

How to: Spaghetti Squash

7 Mar

Most recipes I find on the internet for spaghetti squash say to put it in the oven but it takes an hour or so to get it perfectly shreddable. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Anyone ever see that YouTube video? They play a remix of it at the hockey games now when someone gets a penalty – ain’t nobody got time to put a remix together of a news story and make it one of the top viewed videos on YouTube…crazy people. 

Instead of putting the squash in the oven, I steam it in the microwave for about 11 minutes depending on the size of your squash. It works perfectly and makes for an easy dinner!

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If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash, I strongly urge you to! David and I love it. We will sometimes portion out half of our plate with squash and half with whole wheat spaghetti noodles and then put the sauce on top. I have made it instead of hashbrowns in cheesy hashbrown casserole. I’ve made it with just some olive oil and parmesan cheese. I’ve made it as a spaghetti stuffed boat or even a mexican stuffed boat – which we had this week, recipe at the end of this post!

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The texture of spaghetti squash when it’s perfectly done shreds into strands very similar to spaghetti pasta. It doesn’t have much of a taste but is less ‘carby’ tasting than pasta. It’s low in calorie, full of vitamin C, and a fair amount of fiber (Livestrong.com). More benefits of spaghetti squash.

Start by picking out your squash. Spaghetti squash does get cheaper as it’s in season late summer/fall but you should be able to find it year around. They price by the poundage. Pick your size, I usually try and get a medium sized squash because we will each attempt to eat half, but it’s great leftover too!

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When you go to make your squash, I recommend pealing the sticker off and sticking the whole squash in the microwave for 4-6 minutes or enough to make it slightly easier to cut in half lengthwise. Like most squashes (<– is that the right word or is there a plural word for squash? It reads funny for me, like saying geeses), it’s really hard to cut in to. The hardest part of this whole task is cutting it so anything to make it easier for you.

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After you get it cut in half, take a break because you’ll be needing one after all the work it takes to cut that sucker! Then remove the seeds and the gooey hairs, as you would a pumpkin.

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Once each half is ready to go, put one half or both depending on the size and lay cut-side down. Fill the pan with about 1 inch of water. Cover your dish and place in microwave.

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Cook the squash halves for 11 minutes or so. Depending on the size, you might want to check it after about 8 and then you will probably have to check at 11 and possibly even put back in for a few more minutes. Usually mine seems to be just about perfect after 11 minutes though.

This squash was too big to fit in my pan so I cooked each half separately for 11 minutes each.

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You will know when the squash is done when you can take a fork and dig in, shredding all the way to the hard shell fairly easily. It’s overdone if it turns mushy as you do this. It should have a nice spaghetti-like hold to it, but not be too firm that it’s slightly chewier or crunchy – then it’s not done enough, turn back over in your pan, cover, and cook for a few more minutes. So no mushy, no overly chewy.

Once it’s done, enjoy! There are so many wonderful spaghetti squash recipes out there and this cooking method makes it so much easier and faster!

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Last night I tried this recipe for Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.

It turned out very good BUT after sauteeing the vegetables and adding the spices and thinking 1 tbs of each spice it calls for seemed like a lot yet going ahead and adding that amount of spice to it, I realized it was just too seasoned for us and dumped it. So after starting over, I decided I don’t really like ground cumin anyways so I’m leaving that out (I also hate cilantro so I left that out as well). I spiced mine with a little garlic powder, s & p, salsa, a little bit of chili powder, and a little bit of chipotle seasoning. I also added some ground burger that we had on hand, some tomatoes, and instead of a jalapeno pepper, I sliced up a few pepperoncini peppers.

There are so many awesome recipes on Pinterest for what to do with your spaghetti squash! It’s very versatile and delicious as well as very nutritious. I don’t think it should be a replacement for pasta – still love my carb fixes! but it is nice to stretch portions without the extra calories or to just have something different!

Have you ever tried spaghetti squash?

How do you cook yours?

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The Tooth Book with a side of the best alfredo ever

21 Feb

I am waiting, hoping, and dreaming of a snow day tomorrow….it hasn’t started snowing here yet but it’s coming! I don’t think it will end up getting bad enough here for my work to close but it never hurts to dream right?!

**Side note: I volunteered at work to read to some students at an elementary school in town next week during Read Across America week. This year’s theme is brushing your teeth so the Dr. Seuss book that was chosen is The Tooth Book

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It’s a cute book until I got to the last page…

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Nice Dr. Seuss…nice!

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Anyways, I was really feeling like alfredo this week and with Lent on Friday’s for us now I try to make something without meat on Thursday so that David has a lunch for Friday so that we don’t have to resort to packing him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each week.

Bad thing about alfredo is that it’s not that great for you with all of the butter and in the past I’ve purchased jars of alfredo but have yet to find one that I really like the taste of. What I really wanted was Olive Garden’s alfredo…but not the thousands of calories!

So I turned to Google. I Googled (don’t you love that Googled is a verb) “healthy alfredo sauce” and I came across HealthyFoodforLiving.com’s Light Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce.

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I won’t lie, I got a little scared and kept looking but didn’t find a whole lot of anything that interested me. I felt brave and decided I’d give it a shot.

Sunday when I got groceries for the week I put a jar of alfredo in my cart JUST in case my sauce didn’t turn out but before I got to the register I put it back on the shelf trying to boost my confidence that it would turn out just fine and if not, I just won’t make it again.

First of all, it was SUPER easy. I didn’t change anything except for not having real garlic so I just used some garlic powder. I had neufchatel (1/3-less-fat) cream cheese leftover in our freezer from my Hungry Girl’s crab meat rangoons recipe and I always have pumpkin on hand so I really didn’t need to get anything for the sauce which saved us money too!

Second of all, it was DELICIOUS! I’ve never had (except for Olive Garden) such creamy, rich alfredo. It was filling and plump full of nothing but goodness. I didn’t use the nutmeg as I thought it may get too seasonal tasting and really didn’t want David to know that it had pumpkin in it. I still have not ‘fessed up so unless he’s actually reading this today, he still won’t know. (He doesn’t like pumpkin and I was really clever by making sure I had the sauce done before he got home and good thing because he seemed to really like it!)

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Sorry for the dark, bad lighting picture…I need to work at multitasking in the kitchen and trying to take good quality pictures while I do it!

Don’t let the pumpkin ingredient scare you, I am a pumpkin lover but I could not taste any pumpkin in this. The only thing the pumpkin does in this recipe is makes it rich and creamier with the garlic, and a little bit of salt and pepper, you just taste good old alfredo. The alfredo sauce, although heavy like alfredo sauce should be, was light in calories and fat.

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I put in some shrimp and asparagus over whole wheat thin spaghetti noodles with some garlic bread and a little extra steamed asparagus on the side. I will never buy another jar of alfredo sauce and will repeat this recipe for years to come. Thank you HealthyFoodforLiving!

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And do you see that? The other day I woke up to the sun being up! Before 7 AM finally! I am looking forward to summer so so much that even the smallest signs help! Ok, back to wanting that snow day…

My First Trader Joe’s Experience

18 Feb

Happy Monday! This past weekend, David and I road tripped to the nearest (about an hour and a half drive) Trader Joe’s. We made a day out of it and went to the mall and did a little shopping and then headed to stock up on a few items I’ve been wanting from Trader Joe’s and see what all the fuss is about. Around here, not to many have heard of Trader Joe’s before so I wasn’t really sure on what to expect and we had a lot of people ask us what Trader Joe’s was when we told them we were going there.

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In case you aren’t familiar with Trader Joe’s, it’s a smaller sized grocery store that carries a variety (mostly Trader Joe brand) all natural, wholesome, organic food for a fraction of the price of the same product found in your grocery store’s organic section.

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What I really wanted was some Cookie Butter (my friend, Priscilla, sent me some a while back and it’s almost gone! It doesn’t really have any nutritional value to it, the calories are less than peanut butter but there isn’t as much protein in it because it doesn’t have nuts BUT it’s pretty awesome on top of ice cream or with pretzels dipped in it…I’ve also seen some dessert recipes that call for it as well.

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We started at one end of the store and worked our way to the other end. It was a bit overwhelming the whole time we were in there because of course we went on a Saturday early afternoon and I swear it was the day to go to Trader Joe’s because the place was packed! Carts, people flying around…a zoo! Unfortunately, this made our whole experience a little less relaxing than I had hoped. I felt like everyone knew what they were getting and where to find it and it never failed that we happened to be in their way looking at all of the products.

Some of the stuff they had I can get back home so I passed over some that I may have gotten if we had a Trader Joe’s closer to us but I got stocked up on some specialty items that I wanted to try or knew I couldn’t beat the price back home (like their Hummus salad dressing, some salsa, Quinoa and black bean chips, frozen chicken breasts, etc.)

With our cart loaded up, we checked out…but not before stopping and getting a few TJ’s bags and candy bars. The PB&J chocolate bar that I’ve seen on a lot of blogs lately was devoured by David and I before we hit the highway to head home.

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I’m excited to try all of the items we got and share with you my thoughts on some of the products. I wish we had a Trader Joe’s closer to us but it was a nice day trip together and fun to experience Trader Joe’s for myself!

I lost my sun glasses! I'm sure I'll find them somewhere (my friend's wouldn't exactly explain me as organized...) So my Color Run obnoxious green sun glasses road tripped with us!

I lost my sun glasses! I’m sure I’ll find them somewhere (my friend’s wouldn’t exactly explain me as organized…) So my Color Run obnoxious green sun glasses road tripped with us!

Our weekend ended with my Mom’s birthday! (Happy Birthday Mom!!!!) We had a very nice dinner together Saturday night at a restaurant called Houlihan’s (it’s a chain, have you ever ate there? They have THE best fish tacos and pretty good chocolate martinis!). The weekends always go by so fast!

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What’d you do this weekend?

Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? What are your favorite products?