Spaghetti Squash: a Low Carb Pasta Substitute

— Written By Ann Simmons and last updated by

Spaghetti SquashWhen cold weather starts to settle in, it is easy to revert back to those eating habits that pile on the pounds. However  when spring arrives, the numbers on your scale might look a little different if you add more fall and winter vegetables to your meals. Spaghetti squash is a great one to try if you like pasta.

Once spaghetti squash is cooked and you scrape out the seeds, you are left with strands that resemble spaghetti noodles. Spaghetti squash has a mild, earthy flavor and pairs well with any pasta sauce for a main dish. It also works as a lighter side dish when dressed with pesto or marinara sauce.

Do you need to watch your carbohydrates but enjoy eating pasta? Spaghetti squash is the best of both worlds. You might find that you like this low-carb option better than pasta. You can cook spaghetti squash in the microwave or in a conventional oven. If you have never prepared it, try cooking a smaller squash the first time. If you cook the squash whole, allow it to stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it—and be careful of the steam. The rind can be tough, so be cautious as you pierce the squash prior to cooking it.

Spaghetti Squash Cooking Methods

Whole Spaghetti Squash (Oven): Preheat oven to 400°. Pierce squash with a fork. Place squash on a baking sheet; bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands to measure 4 cups. Serve with warm pasta sauce or your favorite additions for pasta. Source: Cooking Light

Baked Squash (Halved or Cut): Wash and cut squash lengthwise or into pieces. Remove seeds and strings. Place in baking dish with a few tablespoons of water and bake until tender. If using a conventional oven, bake uncovered at 350 ºF. about 30 minutes. Oven temperature and time can vary. If using a microwave, cover and bake on full power 6 to7 minutes. Rotate. Bake another 6 to 7 minutes. Serves 4 per pound. Serve with warm pasta sauce or your favorite additions for pasta. Source: Clemson Extension

Whole Spaghetti Squash (Microwave)

1 spaghetti squash

1 small jar of prepared pasta sauce

Wash outside of the spaghetti squash thoroughly. Pierce in several places with a fork. Place squash in a microwave safe dish. Microwave on High about 3-4 minutes per pound until outer shell pierces easily with a fork. Carefully remove from the oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes. While squash is standing, warm pasta sauce in a microwave safe dish. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Then pull a fork through the middle to reveal the spaghetti strands. Serve with warm pasta sauce. Serving size is ½ cup. A two-pound squash yields about four half-cup servings.

Calories: 42, Total Fat 0.4 g., Saturated Fat 0 g., Carbohydrate 10 g., Fiber 2.2 g.,  Sodium 28 mg. (Recipe analysis is for squash only. Check the brand of pasta  sauce used for additional nutrition information. Source: Kids Café: A Menu of Options (N.C. Cooperative Extension)