Spaghetti Squash Casserole

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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.

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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.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:IMG_4007

Base

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 container cottage cheese (3 cups)

Top Layer 

  • 4 cups broccoli flowerets
  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 large carrots, chopped

Sauce 

  • 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.

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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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.

 If you or someone you know are in need of nutrition services, please contact me via blog email for more information on prices. Thank you for visiting!

❤ Rebecca Raymundo, RD, LDN

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%.

Pumpkin Turkey Bean Chili

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Crock pot recipe, woo hoo! When I see the words “crock pot” my mind already says yes, yes, and yes.

Throw in the ingredients, turn on the heat, and indulge. Yes, you can come home for dinner to a house filled with delectable smells and a ready to eat meal? Yep, like I said before, yes.

Now I know it has been a couple week since I have made a post and all my recipes are starting to pile up. With the weather changing from blistering hot days to chilly grey, I think we can all benefits from an appropriate change in our diet. Some people may not particularly like chili, but I have always been a chili and soup kind of girl. It is one of my favorite things when the fall and winter months sneak upon us. If I did not get the crazy stares when I order chili in the middle of June, I would.

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Chili is the best type of food! It warms you right up on a cold night, can be acceptably eaten for days because you always have leftovers (what person makes homemade chili for one?), is one of the best foods to make for football Sunday (Bear Down), makes you feel better when sick, and it is just absolutely delicous. Wow… you would think I am a sponsor for a chili company or something, I just love it so much. Specially, I love my chili ;).

I have turned the original staple meal into a healthy, convenient, fall themed delight. If you asked my boyfriend, he would classify me as “one of the pickiest costumers ever” when it comes to ordering chili or any food for that matter. I rather bypass the disappointing meal and just make my own because I know I can make it exactly how I want it, hearty. (Not that every single place is bad, because I have my favorite spots) My biggest thing, I don’t skimp on the meat people, that’s one of the best parts!

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I also love to play with all my recipes and even though pumpkin chili sounds a bit funky, trust me. I have been making it for years and it is always a hit. I might even go far enough to say I think it’s better then chili without pumpkin.

Adding pumpkin makes your recipe fun and perfect for fall, but it doesn’t stop there.

Just 1 cup of pumpkin puree provides:

-3.4 grams of iron

-contains more than 2x your daily recommended amount of vitamin A

-provides about 15% of your Daily needs for vitamin E

All of which are supportive for a strong immune system. Sounds like a vital quality to have in your food during the common sick month doesn’t it?  Vitamin A also keeps your eyes, bones, and teeth healthy and vitamin E protects your body from cellular damage that can lead to certain types of cancer.

You can add pumpkin to a variety of recipes from sweet to savory making it perfect for so many things. Personally, I have been using it in basically every recipe and I will do my best to get all the recipes up on the blog ASAP.

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Please do not get intimidated because of the ingredient list.

To be honest is may look long, but it is not that bad. Chili has a funny way of needed tons of ingredients, but most are spices or common items you might all ready have in your home. Plus, you can take my recipe loosely and improvise/play with ingredients yourself if need be. You do not always have to go running to the store to spent more money. See what will work for that meal out of the items you already have.

The recipe below is my version including tips and tricks, however, chili is a super easy uncomplicated thing to make. Through everything in a pot and heat. I need to make this more often?

Now it’s time for you to run to the kitchen and whip up a big batch to see just how good this is for yourself.

Pumpkin Turkey Bean Chili        

Preparation time:

-15 minute

Cook time: 

-6-8 hrs

Serves:

~12-14 (2 cup servings)

Ingredients:

-1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)

-1.5 lbs grass fed, lean ground turkey

-2 Tbsp olive oil

-16 bean soup mix, uncooked

-1/4 to 1/2 large yellow onion, diced

-4 cloves garlic, chopped

-3 cups chicken broth (fat free)

-2 medium tomatoes, diced

-1 tsp chili powder

-1 tsp oregano

-1 tsp ground pepper

-2 tsp cumin

-1/4 tsp cayenne powder

-1 bay leaf

-1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

-5 sprigs fresh thyme

Toppings (optional): chives, cilantro, shredded cheese, avocado slices, plain greek yogurt (in place of sour cream).

Directions:

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Place turkey in skillet and cook until brown. Transfer turkey into slow cooker, add all other ingredients, turn heat on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.

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There is the shortened version for all ya’ll. Now for what I did…
I used the bullet to chop garlic cloves in 5 seconds, transferred it into the crock pot along with all other ingredients expect turkey. I bought grass fed organic turkey from Mariano’s.
Did you know they cook the meat for you right in front of you? If you live by a Mariano’s save time by getting your meat cooked in the store. They even season it how you want with a variety of seasonings available. If it’s convenient for you, kill two birds with one stone like I did. The turkey I used was cooked in store and I walked off to finish my grocery shopping for the week, came back in 15 minutes, and it was done. When I got home I added the turkey in the crock pot, stirred and allowed to simmer for another ten minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
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This chili is dairy free, but feel free to add cheese. It is also gluten free and can easily become vegan friendly if you omit the turkey and use veggie broth. Vegan or not this recipe will provide you with a good source of protein and energy. If using meat, choose lean protein like turkey, it’s less fatty than beef typically used.
 Thanks for visiting and keep visualizing nutrition with me. Bon appetit!
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❤ Rebecca Raymundo, RD, LDN

Per serving: Calories: 225; Total Fat: 4.9 g (Saturated Fat: 1.3 g); Cholesterol: 40 mg; Sodium: 450.9 mg; Potassium: 103.8 mg; Total Carbs: 35.1 g; Dietary Fiber: 17 g; Protein: 21.8 g; Calcium: 5%; Vitamin A: 32.7%; Vitamin C: 9.2; Iron: 18.2%.