By: Sara De Leeuw


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Hi Adventurers! Happy New Year! If you’re anything like me, you may have indulged a little over the holidays, sneaking extra cookies at work, having an extra glass or two of wine, helping yourself to the “last little bit” of Aunt Sally’s triple cheese, bacon mashed potatoes after you already had a big serving. It’s ok, you’re among friends. I did it too. (And those potatoes were awesome!) Now that we’ve finished the eggnog though, and the holiday potlucks are a memory, it’s time to start eating healthy again.

One of the best ways to start eating better is to take a stroll through your local farmers market. Shopping at a farmers market guarantees your fruits and vegetables will always be fresh and in-season. Plus, you can chat with the farmers who actually grow the produce you’re eating. (Little hint, they have awesome recipes!)

There are plenty of local farmers markets (Check the Inland Empire Farmers’ Market Guide for one in your area), but a few of my favorites are on Saturday mornings in Rancho Cucamonga, or Riverside and Sunday mornings in Claremont. One of the local farms you’ll find at those markets is Sage Mountain Farm. Phil and Juany Noble have been running Sage Mountain Farm since 2003. Not only do they have great produce and Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, they also offer eggs from their own free-range chickens, pure raw unfiltered honey, and from their ranch: grass-fed beef!

 

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When I visited the Sage Mountain Farm booth in Claremont, their gorgeous spaghetti squash caught my eye! Spaghetti squash is not only delicious, it's healthy, tasty and very versatile! Spaghetti squash gets its name because when it’s cooked, the inside flesh pulls out of the shell in long strands and looks just like spaghetti noodles. You can recognize spaghetti squash by its oval shape and pretty yellow color. With only 42 calories and 10 carbs in a one-cup serving, it’s a great alternative to high-calorie, high-carb traditional pasta (and we have cheesy bacon potatoes to work off!).

It's easy to cook spaghetti squash! Let’s head to the kitchen and I’ll share two different techniques with you. Baking the squash in the oven, or cooking it in the microwave. Whichever method you prefer, you’ll prepare the spaghetti squash the same way!

 

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HOW TO PREPARE SPAGHETTI SQUASH

With a very sharp knife, cut off the bottom of the squash so it will stand flat and secure on your cutting board. Slice the squash in half lengthwise. Please be careful! Spaghetti squash can be tough to cut through. Don’t let it deter you, however. Its deliciousness will be worth it!

 

To bake prepared squash in the oven:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush the inside of each half with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

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Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and put in the oven.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until you can easily pierce the outside of the squash with a fork.

 

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Let cool 15 minutes.  

With a fork, scrape out the spaghetti-like strands and prepare as desired.

 

To cook the prepared squash in the microwave:

Place squash cut side down in a microwave-safe baking dish. Fill the dish with about 1 inch of water.


 

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Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the outside of the squash with a fork. 

Cooking time will depend on the size of your squash and your individual microwave. If you have a smaller squash, check a little earlier (mine was done after 10 minutes). Consequently, if you are cooking a larger squash, it may take a bit longer.

Let cool 15 minutes, or until squash is cool enough to handle.

With a fork, scrape out the spaghetti-like strands and prepare as desired.

 

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But what do you do with your spaghetti squash once it’s cooked? Aside from digging in with a fork, and eating it straight over the kitchen sink, you have plenty of options! My favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is lightly tossed with olive oil, fresh basil and chopped tomatoes with shredded parmesan cheese and a palmful of toasted pine nuts.


Enjoy!

 

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SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH TOMATO, BASIL AND PINE NUTS
Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash, halved, then roasted
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper for seasoning

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cherry (or grape) tomatoes, diced
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Carefully slice off one end of spaghetti squash so it will stand up on a cutting board.

 

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With a sharp knife, cut squash in half lengthwise.

Scrape out the seeds from inside the squash and discard them.

Lightly brush the inside of the squash with 1/2 tsp of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place squash cut side down on a small cooking sheet and roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the outside of the squash with a fork.

Allow squash to cool for 15 minutes before handling.

While the squash is cooling, place dry skillet over medium heat, and add pine nuts.

Toast nuts until the oils begin to release and they turn a golden brown color, shaking the pan occasionally so the nuts don’t stick or burn.

 

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Remove nuts from the skillet and return the pan to the heat.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, and let it warm up.


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As the oil is warming, with a fork shred the inside of the spaghetti squash into strands. It should come apart easily. The strands will resemble cooked spaghetti noodles.

Place squash strands into the skillet with the warm oil. Add diced tomatoes and basil, toss to combine.

Allow squash mixture to heat through, about 2-3 minutes.

Place squash on a plate and garnish with shredded parmesan and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.

Serve immediately.

 

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I’d love to hear from you! Did you try this recipe? How did it turn out? Give me suggestions for where you’d like me to go. Is there a great local place I need to check out? Drop me a line, and let me know. Find me at: KitchenAdventures@outlook.com. You can also comment below to share your favorite healthy recipe!