As people become more health conscious, they often look for fresher, seasonal versions of their favorite foods. One easy swap that’s growing in popularity is eating squash noodles instead of regular pasta. It’s easy to see why, since squash noodles are simple to prepare, are packed with nutrients and taste great!
Followers of the paleo and other low-carb diets have popularized “noodles” made from zucchini using a special kitchen tool call a spiralizer. You can eat the zucchini noodles warm or cold, making them perfect for summer days when zucchini is in season and it’s too hot to cook very much.
In the fall, I often pick up a spaghetti squash on my weekly trip to the farmers market to roast and serve for dinner. You don’t need any special tools to make noodles out of spaghetti squash—the flesh easily comes apart in strings with a fork once it’s cooked.
While the squash-as-noodles trend was largely popularized by followers of the paleo diet, you don’t have to eat a specific way to enjoy them. I don’t follow a low-carb diet, but I still enjoy substituting squash noodles sometimes because they pack a big punch nutritionally and they’re delicious.
A one-cup serving of whole wheat spaghetti pasta has about 175 calories. The same size serving of zucchini has only about 30 calories and a one-cup serving of spaghetti squash has about 40 calories. While the whole wheat pasta has more fiber, the zucchini and spaghetti squash have more vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. Plus, you can eat a lot more of the squash and still consume way fewer calories than you’d find in a bowl of pasta.
During this busy time of year when it seems indulgent foods are around every turn, eating squash noodles is an easy way to indulge in some of your favorite comfort foods without splurging. Here’s my favorite way to prepare a hearty, healthy and delicious meal using spaghetti squash:
Spaghetti Squash Noodles with Spinach Balls
Spinach balls adapted from The Joy of Cooking
- 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeds scooped out
- 1 cup well-drained cooked spinach (can use frozen)
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 ½ cups dry bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon diced onion
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive Oil
- Jarred tomato sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rub olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on the insides of the spaghetti squash. Place squash open-sides down on glass baking dish. Roast for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, combine spinach, eggs, bread crumbs, cheese and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine, it will help if you mix with your hands. Form the spinach mixture into one-inch balls.
- Warm a little olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add spinach balls to pan, turning every minute or so until all sides are browned. Then add tomato sauce to pan. Let simmer until spinach balls and sauce are warmed through.
- Remove spaghetti squash from oven after 1 hour. Flip halves over and once they are cool enough to touch, run a fork over the insides to create noodles out of the flesh.
- Serve a scoop of spaghetti squash noodles with spinach balls and sauce. Top with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Note: If you prefer regular meatballs, simply substitute your favorite recipe in place of the spinach balls.