Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vegetable Versatility

It's no surprise that vegetables are an important tool in weight loss. They are low in calorie, high in fiber, vitamin rich, filling, and just plain good for you. I mean, Weight Watchers has assigned most vegetables as a zero-point food and experts tell you to load your plate up first with veggies before anything else.
I love going to the farmer's market on a Saturday morning and walking through the rows and rows and rows of fresh produce and letting my mind wander through all of the great ideas of ways to prepare all of those delicious vegetables. Summertime is such an easy time for vegetable consumption. It's hot out, we're all eating a little lighter, and a wide variety of veggies are plentiful. But what happens in the winter when all of the corn, tomatoes, zucchinis and so on have disappeared? I have rarely met a vegetable that I don't like or won't eat but that doesn't mean that I don't get bored of the same old stir-fry or salad. I have found it difficult to be as vegetable-friendly in the winter when it seems like the options are squash and peppers.
I was talking to a co-worker awhile back and she mentioned that there's a veggie out there that can be substituted for spaghetti. Wait, WHAT?!?! You mean I can substitue a VEGETABLE for spaghetti and still have the joy of cuddling up with a bowl of "pasta?" The answer was a resounding "YES!" Enter a new vegetable into my arsenal: spaghetti squash. With this vegetable you can create so many different things:

There are a couple of steps you have to take prior to incorporating your spaghetti squash into your favorite dish.
1. Cut your squash length-wise. Be really careful....they are very tough and difficult to cut open
2. Scoop out the seeds on the inside much like you would a pumpkin
3. The next step is to cook the squash and you can do this one of several ways. You can put it in a baking dish with about 1/4 inch of water, cover with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. You can boil it in a large pot on top of the stove. In my opinion, the easiest and fastest way is to cut it up enough to fit into a microwavable dish, fill the dish with 1/4 inch of water, cover, and microwave for 12-15 minutes until it's really tender
4. Remove from water and let cool slightly
5. Gently pull apart the inside of the squash with a fork.

After those steps, you have the squash ready to prepare or continue cooking anyway you'd like.

You can find some GREAT spaghetti squash recipes here. Try some and let us know your favorites!!  I'd love to hear your healthy winter vegetable ideas!

Until next time...

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