Squashing the Calories

Before we launch off on another one of our international adventures, we thought we’d share one of our favorite healthy, winter meals. We, like many others around the world, try to lighten the caloric loads after the holidays. Most of our meals are centered around vegetables whether it be salads, soups or light pasta dishes. It’s our way of making up for the holiday over-indulgences. This year, however, we have a bit of added pressure as swim suit season is coming a bit early.

Mike, through his research, has the opportunity to attend a conference in Hawaii next month (rough job right?!). His professional associations pick some mighty nice places to visit in the dead of winter let me tell you. Now typically the kids and I will tag every now and then, so as you can imagine, we’re picking this year to go! That being the case, we’ve been in healthy eating mode (well, for the most part) for the past month and this is one of our favorite go-to healthy, flavorful winter meals – Spicy Spaghetti Squash.

We start by preheating the oven to 400F, then splitting and seeding a spaghetti squash.

Next we place the squash flesh side down in a casserole dish which is then filled with about a 1/4-inch of water.

The squash is then baked for 45 minutes during which time we turn to the sauce. We like our sauce with crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms, but you can really play around with any combination that suits your taste. If you want green peppers, go for it. Some jalapenos? Why not. We’ve even gone the all squash route using zucchini and yellow summer squash. For this version, however, we went with our favorite combo.

We start the sauce by heating some oil with the garlic and a bit of cayenne pepper in a large sauce pan.

Next we toss in the onions and cook them in the oil for about 3 to 5 minutes. We then add the crushed tomatoes and more often than not a bit of red wine.

The sauce is then seasoned with a bit of sea salt and brought to a boil. Next we toss in the zucchini and mushrooms and return the sauce to a boil.

We then turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and let the sauce cook for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, we thaw our shrimp in some cold water (fresh works well too if you have it available).

After the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, we uncover it and cook it for another 15. This is also about the time the squash is finished cooking flesh-side down, so we flip the squash and cook it for the final 15 minutes flesh-side up.

The last few steps are a breeze. We throw the shrimp into the sauce and heat it through for about 2 or 3 minutes and then set it aside to keep warm. Next we turn to the squash and using two forks begin to shred the flesh into spaghetti-like strings.

We tried convincing the kids this was spaghetti once, but they didn’t buy it.

And finally we divided the squash into serving bowls and topped it with our spicy sauce.

This is an incredibly filling meal, but really very healthy – not to mention full of flavor. It’s easily a 4 spoon dinner for Mike and I (it’s one of his favorite’s in fact).

The kids gave it a few shots, but they’re just not into squash yet and it’s a bit too spicy for them. So we usually whip them up a little bit of real spaghetti which makes them much happier. Now before you think we’ve gone completely crazy…don’t worry, we still shred some fresh Parm.

I mean what’s spaghetti without some fresh cheese?!

So if you’re looking for a warming meal, a healthy meal, a meal bursting with fresh flavors, we’d recommend this squash recipe. I know it’s going to be served at our table for many years to come, and maybe someday the kids will even come around to eating it too. Until then, I think we’re just about ready for an early swim suit season…but first we have to get through a long flight with our ever-in-motion Miss A. I have no doubt we’ll have stories for you from that experience. πŸ˜‰

Print this recipe: Spicy Spaghetti Squash

46 thoughts on “Squashing the Calories

  1. Casey says:

    wowed you make these “inter nation adventures” sound quite regular! Your family sounds so fun!! You definitely wouldn’t have to ask me twice about going to Hawaii πŸ˜‰ even if it meant eating healthy! But your healthy food looks so delicious, there is something about eating nutritious stuff that makes me feel so accomplished, love it!


  2. profiterolesandponytails says:

    I’ve never seen this dish with shrimp added in. Sounds really good! You definitely have some incentive to eat healthy with a trip to Hawaii around the corner. First you won Eva’s salts and now a trip to Hawaii — you’re on a good roll! I’m happy for you!


  3. infinebalance says:

    I really like this dish. I love spaghetti squash but usually serve it as a side dish. My kids love it too. But my hubby – not so much. Just not substantial enough for him. I think he might even eat it with spicy sauce and shrimp. I’m definitely going to put this in the rotation soon!


    • Kristy says:

      Awesome! I hope it works out. πŸ™‚ It’s easily one of Mike’s favorite dishes and has become a regular meal around here year-round, but especially in the winter.


  4. Charles says:

    I’d love to try spaghetti squash – never saw it here… not once 😦 I didn’t understand once that there was an actual squash called “spaghetti squash” so I tried using a butternut squash to turn into “spaghetti” – lolz, that really didn’t turn out so well πŸ˜€

    Can’t believe Mike gets sent to Hawaii as “work”… man, I’m in the wrong line of work!

    Anyway – the dish looks great Kristy… I can’t understand the kids not liking it… squash doesn’t even really have a flavour (maybe spaghetti squash does though??)… for me it’s always been quite non-descript, though maybe if I was ~6 years old I might be thinking the same thing as them πŸ˜€


    • Kristy says:

      Oh Charles! That absolutely cracked me up! I can so see doing something like that too. I do like the idea of butternut squash spaghetti though. πŸ™‚ And yes, I’m with you – I’m in the wrong line of work. Mike attends this conference every year and it’s always someplace warm and beautiful! As for the kids, I think it’s a combination of the spicy sauce – too spicy for them – and the squash. Mr. N used to like butternut squash and then one year he just switched (which involved a not so appetizing mess on our dinner table) and now he can’t stand any squash. I will say after that incident it took me three years to want butternut squash again though. πŸ˜‰


  5. Caroline says:

    I haven’t made spaghetti squash in a while…thanks for the reminder. πŸ˜‰ I usually eat it plain with salt, pepper & olive oil or with pasta sauce, butttt your version sounds incredible and much more gourmet! Btw, I really like that bowl. Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that, haha.


    • Kristy says:

      It’s my favorite bowl too! It was a TJ Maxx find. πŸ˜‰ And if you like spaghetti squash, I think you’d enjoy this recipe. The cayenne really makes this dish in my opinion – but then again, I like things a bit spicy.


  6. Eva kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com says:

    Hawaii, are you SERIOUS? What lucky DUCKS! But, instead of being totally, insanely, out of control jealous, I will be happy that my blogging friends will get such a nice diversion in the midst of winter (OK, with a teeny, tiny bit of jealousy, is that OK?) πŸ˜‰
    I used to make spaghetti squash but for some reason I haven’t in yearsβ€”this is the second recipe I’ve come across in a few days…you think the universe is telling me something? I love the idea of tomato sauce with the shrimp and the spicier the better for me. I am putting this on the menu next week! Thanks Kristy.


    • Kristy says:

      LOL! We’ll make sure to get some good pics and new recipes to share! And I know what you mean about the universe speaking to you…broccoli has been popping up every where I look and Mike brought it up recently too. πŸ˜‰


  7. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    What a perfect warming, healthy dish Kristy – love the spicy sauce. You know, I’ve never made spaghetti squash before and looking at this view, I have no idea why. Yay for early bikini season! Please take plenty of pictures of Mr. N and Miss A in her polka dot bikini πŸ˜‰ – I just know you will all have a Fabulous time. Enjoy!! πŸ™‚


    • Kristy says:

      I think you guys would love spaghetti squash, and there’s really no end to how you can fix it up. LOL – Miss A just got her bikini yesterday. It is of course pink! πŸ˜‰


  8. joshdaddy says:

    Hurrah for winter squash recipes! I just posted an entry on golden nugget pie so we are on the same page. My kids love spaghetti squash–I like the touch of spice to keep the dish from being too single note. Thanks for sharing this.


  9. Linda says:

    Hawaii…I’m soo jealous!! Hopefully you’ll be sharing your trip and food tastings with us!! I love spaghetti squash and do frequently use it in leu of pasta. Because as you know, it’s bikini season year round where I live!! I’m going to try your topping next time, sans the mushrooms!!


    • Kristy says:

      LOL – very true! It is bikini season year-round in FL! I miss FL. We haven’t been down there in years. Mike’s parents have a house down there and we were pretty good about getting down there once a year when Mr. N was little, but haven’t been since Miss A was born. And yes, we’ll make sure to get good photos and recipes. πŸ™‚


  10. ChgoJohn says:

    Excellent dish, Kristy! I’ve only been cooking spaghetti squash for a couple years but really enjoy it when dressed with a hearty tomato sauce like yours here. Love your addition of shrimp to the mx! Give your SousChefs time. They’ll get onboard, guaranteed!


    • Kristy says:

      I love the shrimp in this dish, especially with the cayenne. πŸ™‚ And I think you’re right…the kids will come around one of these days. They do still try it every time we make it (willingly too), which leads me to believe it’s only a matter of time. πŸ˜‰


  11. smartfoodandfit says:

    I love your blog post title, very clever! Then you introduce us with a low calorie squash recipe! I love spaghetti squash! Have you tried zucchini noodles to lighten up a pasta dish? I can’t remember if I posted it or not, I did take a picture of it.

    Anyhow, how exciting that you guys are going to Hawaii! I wish my husband’s job sent him to beautiful places for work. Can’t wait to hear all about the trip and wonderful food!


  12. sallybr says:

    Oh, you know how much PHil and I love Hawaii, right? We went there by ourselves, we took the kids with us twice, and love LOVE LOVE the North Shore – if you go to Waimea Beach, have fun watching people jump off the rock on the left side of the bay, and keep in mind that Sally, the Queen of Wimps when it comes to heights, ended up jumping off the cliff too, as did everyone else in our group… what an adventure that was πŸ˜‰

    spaghetti squash, I gotta perfect that. It should have been in my cooking list for this year, I tried it twice, and messed up both times… (sigh)

    great post! (sorry I got carried away in the comments)


  13. Kay aka Babygirl says:

    This looks absolutely amazing Kristy. I’ve never spiced up squash before, but I can imagine it would taste wonderful. And the fact that I see shrimp in this dish, just makes me happy. So I’m in, I will definitely try this out. And I know you guys will have amazing fun in Hawaii. I wish my job sent me to tropical places in the winter lol. As far as Miss A, the beautiful, maybe you should try what my mom would do. She would tire out my nieces and nephews before they flew. I have no idea how she did it but they would sleep through the WHOLE flight LOL.


  14. A_Boleyn says:

    The pictures of this meal are gorgeous … so colourful.

    I’ve tried spaghetti squash with a similar type of marinara sauce some time ago but it just wasn’t the same, unfortunately. On the plus side, I tried a new vegetable so I was proud of myself. πŸ™‚


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