Ok here it is! If you follow me on instagram you will remember my post about our family dinner the other night. The one when we ate spaghetti squash as our spaghetti noodles. Oh man was it delicious! Really!! My sister Sydney can even vouch for this deliciousness. She just made this last night. Although she said she could have eaten the spaghetti squash alone, it was that tasty.
I am not entirely sure how many posts I have publish which reference why I have chosen to use this blog as a venue for mine/Ina Garten’s recipes , but here is to another post explaining why…
Eating healthy is a major part of our home. In fact, currently Casey and I are working on family guiding principles and a family mission statement, and in the guiding principles you will find a focus on healthy living . Why do we do this? What does a healthy lifestyle involve? Well, we do this for more reasons than one. The main idea is to stay healthy to be able to physically function at an optimal level, be mentally on board, and be emotionally balanced. I really think a large part of a healthy lifestyle stems from the food we eat.
I haven’t attempted the many current or past popular diets for our family, but one diet we have followed is a balanced whole food diet. We eat dairy, we eat wheat, we eat sugar, and we even eat from an In n Out Burger if circumstances permit. We don’t claim the perfect diet over here in our home, but we do try our very hardest to eat as clean and whole food based as possible. Many families living with an autistic child also live with Leaky Gut Syndrome, intolerances to gluten and/or dairy, or other various diet restrictions/intestinal complications. For us, we don’t have these. Cali’s bodily systems work just fine off of our diet, so we have chosen to stick to this route. If you go peruse through some of the products we love you will find many of the snacks and nutritional supplements we also like to add to our diet.
I think it is important for each family to identify what diet works best for them. If I could give any advice, non medical, non professional advice, I would say this…
If nothing else, make a goal to provide at least one meal dedicated to whole foods at least once a day. Little by little I bet your meals will start to transform into every meal, again if circumstances permit, being dedicated to whole foods.
Another bit of advice…don’t live an extreme diet. Only live an extreme diet if circumstances say you must live an extreme diet. I believe a balanced diet is a good way route for our family. And since our family is pretty on line with the “normal” family, with a side of autism of coarse, our balanced diet will probably bode well for many other families as well.
So there you have it. A small tidbit into why we eat healthy and what it means for our family. With all of this said, you can imagine why I would venture out and turn my spaghetti squash into an actual spaghetti dish. The girls loved it, I loved it, and I know what Casey was thinking. He was thinking how lucky he is to have the BEST WIFE IN THE WORLD who makes him good food. Side note: Casey will be reading this:)
Below the recipe you will find some helpful tips my sister gave to me after following my recipe and cooking her very own spaghetti squash spaghetti.
- FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:
- 6 medium garden tomatoes, sliced in half
- 30-35 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (I used yellow, but any work)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons + 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, (optional: I didn’t use the first time making this and it was still superb!)
- ¾ cup yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
- 2 inch square parmesan rind (or around that size)
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce (Muir Glen brand)
- 1 table spoon tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (*tip: crush dried herbs in hand before using. This helps to bring out the flavor)
- ¼ tsp nutmeg, fresh or powdered
- 1 tablespoon balsamic, your best flavor (I like a thick, syrupy kind!)
- FOR THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
- 2 spaghetti squash, medium to large size
- Olive oil (enough to coat entire squash, skin and flesh side)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup Freshly grated parmesan plus more for topping (amount to your preference)
- Directions for Sauce
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place prepared tomatoes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes start to release their juices and shrink in size. Take out of oven and pour can of tomato sauce over the roasted tomatoes. Stir to coat. The acidity from the tomato sauce will help loosen any drippings that have caramelized to the sheet pan. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat a large heavy bottom pot (I use a dutch oven pot) on the stove over medium high heat. Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the pot. Once hot, add the prepared onions. Turn heat to medium. Sweat out the onion for about 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute seconds. Do not burn!
- Add tomato paste to the pot. Stir to coat onions and garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and sauce from sheet pan to the pot. Scrape off every last dripping and flavoring from of the pan. Stir to combine. Add parmesan rind, oregano, and nutmeg. Stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. In the last five minutes of the 15 minutes simmer time, add in the basil. (Again, if you don’t have basil, no big deal.)
- Take off the heat and stir in balsamic. Cover with lid and let rest for at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes. When ready to serve, discard the parmesan rind. If using meatballs, place cooked meatballs into the sauce and let rest in the sauce for ten minutes and then serve when ready.
- Directions for Roasting Spaghetti Squash
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Prepare spaghetti squash by first cutting off end with stem. Place squash on the end that was just cut. This creates a nice flat surface from which you can stand your squash vertically to cut. Next slice the squash in half, vertically. Scrape out all seeds. and place on sheet pan, skin side down. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Use hands to coast entire squash, both sides. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the flesh of each squash half. Don’t scrimp on either the salt or pepper!
- Place in oven and cook for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. You’ll know it’s done when the edges start to brown and crisp a bit. Take out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Take fork and start scraping squash. The “meat” of the veggie will start to scrape with off with ease, looking like angle hair pasta. All you should have left are the skins.
- Place in a bowl. Sprinkle over parmesan. Toss to combine. Finish off by topping “pasta” with tomato sauce, your favorite meatballs (optional), and more grated parmesan.
*If you add more tomato paste, you may find you need to add more balsamic at the end as well. Add by the teaspoon and see what your tastebuds enjoy!
*Everyones spaghetti squash will be a different size. If you find your squash wasn’t enough for the amount of sauce you have, freeze the extra sauce for later use.
*Don’t worry about using too much parmesan!! I use the ¼ cup and then I still use a generous amout to top each individual dish as well.