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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Steamed Spaghetti Squash

Beta-carotenes are the strongly coloured red-orange pigments found in fruits and vegetables, the dietary source of provitamin A that convert to Vitamin A in the body. Think carrots, squashes, sweet potatoes,  Vitamin A tis a fat soluble vitamin needed for healthy skin, teeth, mucosal membranes, skeletal cells, an immune booster and eye health.  I've been pushing the beta-carotenes because I am facing eye health problems with possible retinal detachment in my left eye that is being checked every 3 months.  While this may be due to previous injury, a bit of extra Vitamin A is not going to hurt.  Besides aging eyes can always do with an extra dose of beta-carotene!

spaghetti squash in steamer bakset
I love squash, mainly acorn and zucchini but pretty much any squash fits the bill.  What I find a bit interesting is you seldom see squash other than zucchini on a restaurant menu.  Occasionally, they will offer a squash soup but that is about it.  Squash is always inexpensive, it's easy to bake or steam without peeling, it stores well, it's versatile in that squash can be used as a side or in breads and deserts, and it is colourful.  I would have thought restaurants would take advantage of all of the benefits squash has to offer.

I discovered spaghetti squash several years ago but it never really caught on until the last couple of years.  Next to acorn squash, spaghetti squash has quickly become a favourite.  Spaghetti squash can be baked or steamed. I have found steaming the squash gets nicer results.   Steamed spaghetti squash is very easy to prepare.  I just wash and cut the squash in half length wise, scoop out the innards then place it upside down in a steamer basket.   I put about an inch of water in the pot then cover and steam for about 10 minutes or until the squash is tender.
spaghetti squash just out of the steamerA half spaghetti squash gives a yield of 2 to 4 servings depending on the serving size.  An serving size is 100 grams (half cup).  After steaming turn it cut side up on a plate or cutting board.  At this point it looks like regular cooked squash.  It is a bit on the lighter colour side than other squashes so a  more yellow than deep orange.  It is a bit firmer to the touch when cooked.  The flavour of spaghetti squash is milder than other squashes as well.  The real beauty of spaghetti squash is the flesh pulls into strands resembling spaghetti, hence its name.  It is a lovely substitute for wheat based spaghetti or for those who need or want to eat gluten free.

using a fork to separate the spaghetti squash strands
For this step, you may want to wear an oven mitt on one hand to steady the squash as it will be rather hot.  The easiest way to separate the flesh in spaghetti squash to form strands is using a fork.  Poke the fork down near the stem end of the squash then gently pull down towards the tip of the squash.  The strands will immediately form.  Continue in this fashion until you reach the skin but try not to break through the skin as it will add a hard texture.  You will need a bit gentler touch near the skin as unlike most winter squashes, the skin on spaghetti squash is rather thin.

spaghetti squash strands ready for serving
It only takes a couple of minutes to get an empty squash shell full of delicious spaghetti squash strands.  At this point, I like to add a little butter and salt then mix.  Garlic pepper is a good substitute for salt if you want a lightly kicked up flavour or are on a sodium restricted diet.  Spaghetti squash is lower in calories than some winter squashes but higher in sodium, something to consider if on a sodium restricted diet.

I really love these lovely golden strands of yumminest!  They have the texture close to wheat based spaghetti and yet they are different.  They do have a different flavour but the strands will twirl around your fork so even kids will like them AND the flavour is really not a strong squash flavour so should be well received by picky palates.    You can use your favourite spaghetti topping as well.

spaghetti squash served
I served the spaghetti squash simply with a bit of butter and seasalt with meatloaf topped with home canned cream style corn, and one version of golden potato bake.  Despite its name cream style corn has no cream in it.  The thickened golden morsels are a result of how the cornis prepared right from the corn cobs.  It is so good with meatloaf!  The potato side dish is a mixture of steamed potatoes and carrots (good source of beta-carotenes), seasonings, plain yogurt and cream cheese. There was a lot of yellows in this meal, on purpose. It really was a simple, easy to prepare, frugal yet delicious meal that was rich in beta-carotene.  Spaghetti squash just brightens up the plate any time you serve it  It's one of those good foods for you that is wonderful to enjoy!

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