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Lose Weight Eating Spaghetti

You think I’m kidding?  Not Spaghetti pasta, spaghetti squash.  I love this vegetable as a seasonal transitional food.  I’m pretty much ready to give up the winter squashes in favor of lighter spring foods, but compared to others this one  has a light and sweet flavor, delicate texture, is incredibly versatile and can actually substitute pasta in many dishes.

Spaghetti squash is low in calories, but high in vitamins and antioxidants.  One cup of cooked spaghetti squash is only 10 grams of carbohydrates and 42 calories compared to regular spaghetti pasta, which is around 43 grams of carbohydrates and 221 calories per cup.  It ranks very low on the glycemic index, so will not cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop suddenly.  This vegetable is an excellent source of beta carotene, also known as vitamin A which helps to boost the immune system and maintain healthy eye function.  Spaghetti squash also contains significant amounts of niacin, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, fiber and vitamin C.

To cook spaghetti squash cut the whole squash in half and remove all the seeds.  You will need a large sharp knife, as she skin and flesh are tough.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan, or glass baking dish along with half an inch of water.  Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on size, until it is tender but not mushy.  You can also microwave it, but I have not tried that method.  Take a fork and scrape the stingy squash out onto individual plates and top with the food you would normally place on top of spaghetti or place in a bowl and toss in other ingredients.

Each squash will provide at least 6 servings so make each meal a little different.  Treat it just like pasta and top with a homemade tomato sauce, meat, and sautéed vegetables.  Serve it cold and toss like a salad with lightly steamed vegetables.  Use it as a base for a meal that is a little saucy that you would typically serve over rice.  You can treat it like a side dish and toss with olive oil, a little nutmeg, ground pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Take the components of a Greek salad and cook them (onion, garlic, tomato, olives, feta cheese), replace the greens with spaghetti squash, toss and serve warm

Roasted Harvest Vegetable Medley

Someone asked me recently how I roasted the vegetables for a dinner and I laughed.  I thought everyone knew how to roast root  vegetables to make a sweet and savory side dish,  so I decided to share this one.  This is a very flexible dish for fall or winter and most of the ingredients can be gathered at a local farmer's market.  You can switch up the veggies and select whatever is available (focus on root vegetables).  If you end up with more cut vegetables than what the recipe requires just add some extra olive oil and herbs (the herbs and garlic are key).  Keep in mind that the Brussels sprouts and potatoes are the most dense and will take longer to cook, therefore make sure those are cut to an appropriate size.

Serves about 8

1 lb small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

1 small butternut squash, halved, cut into chunks (1 1/2 lb)

1 head cauliflower, separated into 2 inch florets (1 lb)

4 medium leeks, white parts only, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

1/2 lb baby carrots

1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut to about the same size as the baby carrots

24 cloves garlic, peeled (2 heads), plus 3 garlic cloves minced (1 Tbs) divided

1 Tbs chopped fresh sage, plus 24 leaves, divided

1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary

2 red bell peppers, in chunks

Adjust oven rack so it is close to the heat source.  Preheat oven to 450 deg.  Bring saucepan of water to a boil.  Add Brussels sprouts and cook 3 minutes, or until bright green.  Drain, rinse under cold water, then pat dry.

Toss squash, cauliflower, potatoes, leeks, carrots, parsnips, garlic cloves, 3 Tbs. olive oil, chopped sage, sage leaves, and rosemary in large roasting pan.  Season with salt and pepper and spread into single layer.  Roast 25 minutes, tossing vegetables twice.  Add bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, minced garlic, and remaining 1 Tbs oil.  Roast 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are browned on edges and tender.

If you have a lot of leftover you can also make a soup.  Just take vegetable stock, add the leftover vegetables and puree.

Spicy Asian Stir-Fry with Whole-Wheat Linguine

This recipe is a good way to make the switch from white pasta to whole-grain varieties that offer more fiber and protein.  If your diet requires additional protein you can add chicken or salmon.  The dish also tastes great as a cold noodle salad which you can easily transport to work.  If you do not have hoisin or garlic-chile sauce just substitute another sweet and spicy combo. Serves 4 (2 cups/serving) Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients: 8 oz whole-wheat linguine noodles 1 Tbs. peanut oil 1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup) 2 garlic cloves, minced (2 tsp) 1 small head bok choy, chopped into 2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups) 1 1/2 cups broccoli floret 1/2 cup frozen or fresh snow peas (thawed) 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced 2 Tbs hoisin sauce 1 Tbs garlic-chili sauce 1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water, and set pasta aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, and saute 5 to 7 minutes, or until onion is golden.

Add bok choy, broccoli, snow peas, and bell pepper.  Stir continuously for 5 minutes.  Add a 1/2 cup of water, cover, and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in hoisin and garlic-chili sauces.  Stir in noodles, adding 1/2 cup reserved cooking water.  Add more water if mixture seems too dry.  Garnish each serving with 1 Tbs. chopped peanuts.

Per 2-cup serving: 330 calories; 19g protein; 9g fat (1g saturated); 55g carb; 10g fiber; 205mg sodium; 7g sugars

compliments of vegetarian times magazine