I’m always in search of quick weeknight dinner ideas and this is a great one that I have in my rotation, especially this time of year when spaghetti squash is readily available. This meal is a great way to pack in the vegetables. It can be a quick weeknight meal, but the squash should be prepared the night before in order for this to be considered a quick weeknight meal. The squash can be roasted the night before and the remaining veggies chopped up and all you’ll need to do is to quickly throw this together when you want to eat it. Preparing healthy meals unfortunately takes time. With a little bit of planning it’s very feasible, but I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy. Like I tell my clients, being healthy is simple, but it’s not always easy because it actually requires you to do work. But trust me, it is well worth it. Your health is the most important asset you have, so you better take the time and invest in it. Spend a little bit of time in the kitchen and your life will improve because you will begin to feel better, have more energy your mood will improve, you’ll sleep better and the list goes on.
This meal is simple and tastes great! But my favourite part of the meal has to do with the fact that I can pack in the vegetables with this simple dish. I am on a mission to increase my veggie intake and to inspire my clients to do the same. Most North Americans don’t eat enough veggies. When you look at most North American health or weight loss “diets” they are far too focused on eliminating certain foods such as grains or increasing protein, increasing fat, reducing fat, eliminating fruit and the list goes on. But most diets seem to miss the mark. Truly the point of eating is to nourish our bodies. Therefore to improve our health we NEED high quality foods that will provide our bodies what we so desperately need – micronutrients which are found abundantly in veggies! Most of us are starving. We’re not starving from a deprivation of food but from a deprivation of nutrients and an excess of stuff that our body has no idea how to deal with! And so much nutrients are packed into veggies! Please join me and make it your mission to increase the consumption of veggies. Your body will feel AMAZING when you do this. I have seen it time and time again.
This recipe is quite straight forward. The only thing I want to point out is the roasting of the squash. Many people don’t like spaghetti squash mostly because they don’t cook it properly. I’ve provided some instructions below on how I like to cook it for the best tasting and healthiest version of spaghetti squash. My mom traditionally roasted the entire thing without cutting it. It tastes fine to me but it sort of steams on the inside and doesn’t bring out all the flavours of the squash. Here’s my method.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 on the bake setting. Cut the squash in the center widthwise as noted below. Cutting it this way will provide for longer “spaghetti” strands.
Step 2: Place squash face down and place on baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven until some of the juices from the squash begin to release.
Step 3: Flip the squash over and roast for another 25-30 minutes until the squash begins to caramelize and the strands can be separated with a fork.
Step 5: Remove the seeds and fluff the squash strands and place in a large serving dish. If using the next day, allow to cool and place in an airtight container. This can be reheated in a pan or placed in the oven to warm for 10-15 minutes.
- 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 medium sized onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 bell peppers
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 lb of cremini mushrooms
- ½ cup of fresh basil leaves
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 red chilli pepper (optional)
- salt to taste
- 8 tablespoons of hemp hearts (optional)
- 1 cup of almond meal (or slivered almonds/cashews)
- 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 425
- Cut squash into half widthwise. Place face down on baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Flip the squash right side up and roast for a further 25-30 minutes until the squash is baked through and begins to caramelize. Remove from the oven, set aside and allow to cool down enough to handle. Once cooled, remove the seeds and begin to scrape the squash and fluff up the strands of spaghetti. Place in a large dish and set aside.
- Place avocado oil into a deep pan and heat over medium heat. Crush garlic cloves and cut onions into thin slivers. Once the oil is heated, place onion and garlic into the pan and sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Meanwhile, chop up the remaining vegetables. Bell peppers can be julienned into ½ inch thick slices, zucchini can be julienned or sliced diagonally into ¼ inch slices, cremini mushrooms should be thinly sliced and the basil roughly chopped.
- Once the onion has become translucent, place sliced mushrooms, lightly sprinkle with salt and sauté for a few minutes util some of the liquid is released. Next place the peppers and zucchini, sprinkle with salt and oregano and sauté for a few minutes further until the veggies are a bright colour. You don't want to overcook these veggies, you want them to be crispy still. Once the vegetables are removed from the heat, top with chopped basil leaves.
- Place all ingredients into food processor and pulse until combined and finely ground if using slivered almonds or cashews. You will have extra parmesan and this can be kept in the refrigerator stored in the fridge for a few weeks.
- Place cooked butternut squash into a plate and top with cooked veggies, a couple of tablespoons of vegan parmesan and thinly sliced chilli peppers (optional). You can also add a couple of tablespoons of hemp hearts if you want additional protein.