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Spaghetti Squash Pasta Recipe

January 21, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

As a child of two Italian parents, I can tell you that one of the most difficult dietary changes I’ve made is to eliminate pasta from my life. The one thing that capellini, fettuccine, linguine and spaghetti all have in common is that they’re traditionally made from wheat flour. That, in and of itself, excludes them from my menu plan. Even reduced-carbohydrate pastas and countless others don’t work for me because they typically contain gluten – a protein found in grains that can provoke allergic reactions and other health consequences. But rather than give up on pasta altogether, I’ve opted to rediscover it in a slightly different form.

No matter what type of diet you’re on, calories matter to some extent. Spaghetti squash is an excellent way to reduce the caloric content of a pasta dish. In fact, a one cup serving of cooked Cucurbita pepo only contains about 40 calories. The carbohydrate count is also quite reasonable at 10 grams per cup. Two grams of the total carbohydrates are calculated as dietary fiber. Perhaps more importantly, the estimated “glycemic load” of spaghetti squash is only 2. This means that it has a negligible impact on blood sugar and insulin production. But there’s yet another reason to reach for squash instead of wheat-based pasta: it gets its yellow color from important dietary antioxidants known as carotenoids. These pigments provide health benefits ranging from the promotion of cardiovascular health to more attractive looking skin. (1,2,3,4,5)

Healthy Fellow Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio
a medium, organic spaghetti squash
organic, extra virgin olive oil spray
organic, extra virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes (optional)
Parmesan cheese (grated)
organic, unsalted butter
organic garlic cloves
organic black pepper
NutraSalt to taste

Nutritional Content – Calories: 320. Protein: 7 grams. Fat: 28 grams. Fiber: 2 grams. “Net” Carbohydrates: 8 grams.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Spray both sides of the exposed flesh of the squash with olive oil. Season cut squash with black pepper, salt or salt-substitute to taste. Place the squash halves cut-side down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool, then run a fork through the “meat” of the squash from end to end to remove the strands that will look like capellini or thin spaghetti. Place the squash “pasta” into a fine mesh strainer and drain for about 15 minutes. Shake out any excess moisture prior to dressing the spaghetti squash.

While the squash drains, add a combination of organic butter and olive oil to a saute pan over low-medium heat. Grate one clove of garlic (or more if you like) into the butter and oil using a mircoplane. If you don’t have this kitchen utensil, finely dice the garlic instead. Add the desired amount of spaghetti squash to the saute pan with the garlic butter/oil and heat it through for several minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, and add the red pepper flakes (if you like some heat). Just prior to serving, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Celiac Disease’s Clinical Manifestations

Classic Form Symptomatic intestinal malabsorption. Chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, weight loss,and flatulence may occur.
Atypical Form Occasional diagnosis, histological or serological, in asymptomatic individuals.
Silent Form Patients with previous CD diagnosis who responded to gluten-free diet and presented a normal histology or only intraepithelial lymphocytes increase.
Latent Form Absence or few gastrointestinal symptoms, presence of a typical symptoms, such as anemia due to iron deficiency,osteoporosis or osteopenia, infertility, low stature. lt is the most common presentation.
Individuals with normal intestinal mucosa, underdiet including
gluten, who will subsequently develop CD.
Refractory Form Patients with CD who do not respond to gluten-free diet.

Source: Rev. Assoc. Med. Bras. vol.56 no.1 São Paulo  2010 (link)

While researching today’s column I came across a rather curious finding. It seems that food scientists from around the world are hard at work trying to discover new ways to improve the health effects of pasta. The goal is to make the much beloved, conventional pasta into a more nutritious dish. A few of the techniques they’re experimenting with include: a) adding unripened banana flour, a rich source of resistant/indigestible starch to the wheat flour; b) fortifying semolina pasta with legumes such as chickpeas, mung beans, red lentils and soybeans – in order to increase the pasta’s protein quality; c) adding a special white bean extract (Phaseolus vulgaris) to help limit the digestion of the starch via the inhibition of the enzyme alpha-amylase. (6,7,8)

When it comes to improving upon a dish, I prefer a much more direct route. By exchanging wheat based spaghetti for spaghetti squash, we replace a source of refined grains with a nutritious vegetable that is considerably lower in carbohydrates. Admittedly, the mouth feel and texture aren’t identical to the original. But, in our household we’ve found that spaghetti squash “pasta” makes a winning meal or snack whether it’s prepared quite simply, as in the recipe above, or paired with a tomato sauce, turkey meatballs and Peccorino Romano cheese. Ultimately the most important difference you’re likely to find is how this re-imagined Italian classic makes you feel. It’s lighter than the original and helps you to meet your daily vegetable quota. That’s something that you just can’t say about conventional pasta.

Be well!


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Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes

13 Comments & Updates to “Spaghetti Squash Pasta Recipe”

  1. Davide Says:

    What’s your thoughts on butter and AGE’s? To me, butter seems just as nefarious (if not more) than whole grains.

  2. Nina K. Says:

    Good morning, JP 🙂

    the recipe came just in time: we have a big spaghetti squash here, and didn’t know how to eat him because he is soo big. Will try your recipe and with the rest i make a delicous soup 🙂

    Wish you 2 a wonderful relaxing and inspiring weekend ☺

    Greetings from your fans from the faaaar side 😉
    Nina K.

  3. anne h Says:

    Guess what is on my counter top this very moment,
    Waiting for me to cook it!
    Spaghetti Squash!
    Now I’ll use your recipe.
    Our minds are linked together, JP!
    Love it! Thanks!

    Banana flour? Who knew?

  4. JP Says:


    I’m not terribly concerned about good butter sources (grass fed and/or organic). It doesn’t top my list as a fat source but I’m not particularly worried about it either.

    Based on what I’ve read, it seems as though endogenously produced AGEs are something to be mindful of. Exogenous AGEs, such as those found in food, are unlikely to be a major health factor – especially if they’re not coming from “junk food”. Many highly-processed, poor sources of nutrition are also high in AGEs.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Thank you, Nina! Timing is everything! 🙂

    I hope you enjoy the “pasta”, soup and your weekend!

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    What a coincidence, Anne! It was meant to be! Cook that bad boy up and enjoy it! 🙂

    Be well!


  7. Mark Says:

    I have always loved Spaghetti Squash. Instead of baking, a quicker way to get it on the plate is to steam it. Our steamer was the best purchase I made. I like to balsamic vinegar with a little hot sauce for a topper, gives a good kick!

  8. JP Says:

    Sounds great, Mark. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us! 🙂

    BTW, we discovered (just this morning) that spaghetti squash makes an excellent potato-alternative when making breakfast hash.

    Be well!


  9. Jacqui MacNeill Says:

    What a great idea! Pasta is so often one of the “bad carbs” that people struggle to eliminate from their diets. I can’t wait to try this recipe myself! 🙂

  10. Vegan Version Says:

    I love spaghetti squash! Have you tried the soy shiratake noodles? I really like them too!

  11. Sarah Says:

    My sister actually introduced me to spaghetti squash. I never knew about it before hand. She made it in a pasta type dish. She told me there would be the squash. I had to ask where it was because I really like squash. I was quite surprised when I found out that the squash was the pasta. It was a good dish. I am going to have to try this recipe out now. Thanks.

  12. JP Says:

    Vegan Version,

    I’m sorry that I missed your comment. I haven’t tried shiratake noodles yet. Maybe I’ll give them a shot once squash season is over. 🙂

    Thank you for the suggestion!

    Be well!


  13. JP Says:

    Update: Chickpea flour helps to moderate increases in post-meal blood sugar …


    Br J Nutr. 2014 Dec;112(12):1966-73.

    The acute effect of commercially available pulse powders on postprandial glycaemic response in healthy young men.

    Whole pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils) elicit low postprandial blood glucose (BG) responses in adults; however, their consumption in North America is low. One potential strategy to increase the dietary intake of pulses is the utilisation of commercial pulse powders in food products; however, it is unclear whether they retain the biological benefits observed with whole pulses. Therefore, the present study examined the effects of commercially prepared pulse powders on BG response before and after a subsequent meal in healthy young men. Overall, three randomised, within-subject experiments were conducted. In each experiment, participants received whole, puréed and powdered pulses (navy beans in Expt 1; lentils in Expt 2; chickpeas in Expt 3) and whole-wheat flour as the control. All treatments were controlled for available carbohydrate content. A fixed-energy pizza meal (50·2 kJ/kg body weight) was provided at 120 min. BG concentration was measured before (0-120 min) and after (140-200 min) the pizza meal. BG concentration peaked at 30 min in all experiments, and pulse forms did not predict their effect on BG response. Compared with the whole-wheat flour control, navy bean treatments lowered peak BG concentrations (Expt 1, P< 0.05), but not the mean BG concentration over 120 min. The mean BG concentration was lower for all lentil (Expt 2, P= 0.008) and chickpea (Expt 3, P= 0.002) treatments over 120 min. Processing pulses to powdered form does not eliminate the benefits of whole pulses on BG response, lending support to the use of pulse powders as value-added food ingredients to moderate postprandial glycaemic response. Be well! JP

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