Spaghetti Squash – A Treasure Trove Of Heart Healthy Nutrients

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Spaghetti squash, also known as vegetable marrow, vegetable spaghetti, fish fin melon or golden string squash, is a hard winter squash that derives its name of the characteristics of the flesh. When cooked, you can use a fork to easily strip the meat into golden-yellow strands resembling cooked spaghetti noodles. No, it doesn’t taste like spaghetti, but it does make a great vegetarian, gluten-free substitute for pasta in a diverse array of tasty dishes.

About the size of a football, an average spaghetti squash will provide several servings. Although the rind can be white or pale green, most spaghetti squash are a pale creamy yellow or orange. The center of the squash contains an abundance of large seeds and the fleshy meat is yellow to dark orange. The seeds can be washed, dried, tossed with olive oil and herbs and roasted. The roasted seeds are a crunchy addition to salads or a nutritious, guilt-free snack.

Spaghetti squash is a flavorful addition to a variety of dishes, such as casseroles, soups, and stews, or eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. When served as “spaghetti,” it can be topped with a variety of pasta sauces.

Origin Of Spaghetti Squash

zucchini-572542__180The savory and satisfying squash was first introduced in China in 1921 but was not brought to the United States until the mid-1930’s. During World War II, spaghetti squash was widely planted as a food staple, but only recently experienced resurgence in culinary popularity. Once a novelty squash found only in Asian markets, spaghetti squash is now available year-round in food markets across America.

Health Benefits Of Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a “super food” veggie. Not only is spaghetti squash low in carbohydrates, it is also a rich source of vitamins, beta-carotene, essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, minerals, and has outstanding antimicrobial properties.

A single serving of this versatile squash contains approximately 457 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A and over 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.

B vitamins include niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and folate. Folate is required for the formation and healthy development of new cells and may help prevent birth defects, making spaghetti squash a healthy food choice for pregnant women.

Antioxidants found in spaghetti squash include beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein, which are all supportive of optimum eye health. Heart healthy nutrients found in this bright-colored vegetable also include potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes With Spicy Pepper Sauce

Serves 8 to 10

Pancakes

  • 2 cups baked and chopped spaghetti squash
  • ¾ cup finely diced red sweet pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 small sweet white onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 Teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ -cup milk

Pepper Sauce

  • 1 small fresh chipotle, jalapeño or habanero pepper chopped.
  • 1 cup pepper jelly – melted over low heat on the stove top
  • ½ Teaspoon sea salt

Preparation

It’s easy to bake a spaghetti squash. First pierce the rind several times with a sharp fork or knife point to allow steam to escape during the baking process. Place the squash in a baking pan with 2 inches of water in the bottom and bake for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Split the squash in half and cool. Scoop out 2 cups of the strands and chop into 1-inch pieces.

While the squash is baking, combine the sauce ingredients in a glass bowl, mix well, cover and refrigerate.

Next, sauté the red pepper, garlic, celery, and onion, until tender but not brown, in 5 tablespoons of the coconut oil, reserving the remaining oil to coat the pan. Add black pepper and cumin and sauté for another minute. Let cool.

Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt and place in a bowl. Blend the milk and eggs and add to the dry ingredients. Stir well to dissolve all lumps. Fold in the vegetable mixture.

Cooking

Heat a heavy cast-iron skillet to the point that a bead of water dances on the surface. Add remaining coconut oil to coat the skillet. Add the pancake batter in large a spoonful. Cook until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately, topped with a generous dollop of the pepper sauce. Enjoy!

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