I absolutely love the fact that winter squash is in season because I’m kind of obsessed with it. Technically, you can find winter squash August through March, however, buying it during October and November is the time it will be at its best.
Shopping seasonal is in fact the best way to get the most for your money, this is the time when you should try to use squash the most. I bought all of this for just under $20 from the farmer’s market last week. It is most likely one of the last times I will be able to go to a farmer’s market because the days are turning extremely chilly quickly and they will all soon be closed, but it was still a steal.
Squash is considered a starchy vegetables, but research has shown it also provides many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients protecting our immune system against colds.
The fantastic carotenoid profile squash contains provides an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C (both immune supporting antioxidants). The fantastic health benefits seem to be endless including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, B vitamins supporting blood sugar and insulin regulation, and a combination of nutrients that promote optimal health.
Squash is one of the vegetables it is extremely important to buy organic because studies have shown squash is a crop that is likely to be grown in contaminated soil. Making a special point to buy organic will eliminate your chances of buying something grown with contaminated soil.
For this dish I made a hearty spaghetti squash casserole for dinner. I like to replace starchy pasta recipes with squash because it is much more forgiving and provides nutritional value. This allows a person who may have a bigger appetite to eat more with out the guilt. It is still just as filling and delicious. Truthfully, I would pick squash-based recipes over pasta based any day because they are not only healthier and more nutritious, but they are more flavorful and do not leave you feeling bloated. I jam packed my casserole with a layer of fresh organic vegetables and topped it with my special creamy butternut squash sauce. (P.S. The sauce was so good, it could definitely be eaten alone. It’s addicting so if you can I would advise you to double my recipe, I mean triple!)
Make this for parties, family gatherings, or holidays. Everyone will be raving about your dish for the entire night!
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Preparation time: 40-45 min to bake squash, 20 minute for veggies, sauce, and to bake casserole.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 container cottage cheese (3 cups)
- 4 cups broccoli flowerets
- 1 cauliflower head
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- ½ butternut squash
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 5-7 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ¼ cup veggie stock
- ¼ cup almond milk
- salt and pepper to taste
Toppings (optional): 1/4 cup Chives and feta cheese.
- Bake spaghetti and butternut squash accordingly. I always cut them in half, scoop the seeds out, and lightly brush 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste on the inside. Bake on 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or under tender. Next, use a fork to scrap out the spaghetti squash into non-stick casserole dish. Mix container of cottage cheese in the squash and press firmly onto dish to form bottom layer.
- Wash and cut veggies. Place all veggies in a large sauté pan with 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté until tender. (5 minutes) Evenly spread veggies in casserole dish as second layer.
- Scoop butternut squash out of skin and place in food processor along with, onion, garlic, cilantro, oregano, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Transfer content into a medium size pot over high heat and add remaining ingredients (milk, stock, thyme, bay leaf). Stir together for 1-2 minutes. Half of the butternut squash plus sauce ingredients will yield 5 cups.
- Once blended, pour 3 cups of sauce evenly over veggies. Top with feta and chives. Bake in oven for another 10 minutes to allow the top to crisp. Everything in the dish is already cooked at this point; baking again for 10 minutes is optional.
Another great thing about squash it the seeds. You can lightly roast them and eat them as a healthy snack for days. Be sure to roast for a short period of time, 15-20 minutes, and at low temperature, 120 degrees, to avoid destroying the healthy fatty oils.
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Per serving (with toppings): Calories: 105; Total Fat: 3.4 g (Saturated Fat: 1.8 g); Cholesterol: 14.2 mg; Sodium: 470.3 mg; Potassium: 380.8 mg; Total Carbs: 15.3 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 8.5 g; Calcium: 11.9%.