Counting calories, ignoring the forbidden slice of bacon when you are really hungry, keeping your distance from chips at the Super Bowl party—those New Year’s resolutions are no fun.
Skip the diet. Make positive choices like these: Eat an apple a day for the next two weeks. Go meatless every Monday. Prepare one dinner a month featuring spaghetti squash. See the little phrase in my apple green Letty’s Kitchen banner at the top of the page? Change your life—one bite at a time.
In the winter of my 12th year my mother joined Weight Watchers. That’s the diet program where you meet for pep talks, share recipes and tips and get on the scale to monitor your progress. For Mom it worked. She changed her food habits and by way of nightly meals changed mine. Lucky. At the same time my teenage butt was blooming I was gaining lifestyle tips for weight management.
One week Mom came home from her meeting psyched to make spaghetti squash “pasta”, a recipe she’d picked up from the weight-loss “teacher.” For my younger sisters and me it was a new vegetable. We were suspicious it would taste like acorn squash, which we thought was awful, even doctored up with butter and brown sugar. Thanks Mom for introducing us—we like spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti-like strands separate when the insides of the squash are raked with a fork, therefore the name. Spaghetti squash serves as a low calorie, low carb base for tomato sauces, or any sauce good on pasta. Caution when served—this recipe with pinto beans and homemade enchilada sauce is so fetching it will cause purring noises while eating.
Today I am grateful for winter squash and Fuji apples and sunshine. What are you grateful for? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
- I usually make Quick Enchilada Sauce with prepared chili powder that includes spices and salt. See photo. Other times I use a pure chile powder like ancho chile powder. The vegetable juice addition isn’t traditional either but it sure brings a wow factor to the sauce, balancing the simplicity of the squash and beans.
- Use home-cooked beans OR open two (15 ounce) cans pinto beans. (You may substitute black beans if you prefer.) Either way, drain off most of the liquid from the beans, reserving the broth for soup if beans are home-cooked. Truth be told, my “pintos” are Anasazi beans—I still have a larder full of them.
- You can prepare the three components ahead of time. If you bake the spaghetti squash a day ahead refrigerate it overnight, before or after the strands are raked.
- Good Idea: Put the squash seeds in a strainer. Rinse, pick out and remove any pieces of squash clinging to the seeds. (You don’t need to get the seeds completely clean: the little rogue strands will practically disappear in the oven.) Toss the seeds with a bit of oil and kosher salt and dump onto a baking sheet. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, until the seeds are crunchy and very slightly golden. Snack.
- More spaghetti squash recipes:
- Spaghetti Squash and Black bean Mexican Bowl: Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Italian Bean Balls & Spaghetti Squash Noodles: Oh She Glows
- Green Curry Spaghetti Squash with Apple Chutney: Naturallyella
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 to 3 cups cooked pinto of Anasazi beans
- Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled
- Chopped cilantro leaves
- Sliced avocado, optional
- Enchilada Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 cup hot water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal
- About 12 ounces vegetable juice (Very Veggie Juice or V-8 juice)
- ½ teaspoon Real Salt, or to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 375° F. Poke a few holes in the squash with a knife or carving fork and place in a pan. Bake about one hour, until the squash skin is soft. Let cool.
- Meanwhile heat the beans and prepare the enchilada sauce.
- When the squash is cool enough to touch, cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and stringy parts. Rake the squash meat with a fork, transferring the strands to a casserole dish. Make a nest in the middle for the beans. Ladle the beans into the nest.
- Homemade Enchilada Sauce:
- Stir the chili powder into the hot water. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in your favorite skillet over medium flame. Stir in the garlic; cook a minute or so. Add the cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly for a few more minutes. Stir in the chili powder water and the vegetable juice, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Add the salt and adjust the seasoning. The sauce should easily drip from a spoon; thin with more hot water if needed.
- Heat the casserole of squash and beans until hot, about 20 minutes.
- Dish the squash and bean onto plates. Let everyone garnish as they wish, with sauce, cilantro, cheese and avocado, if using.