Thursday, October 18, 2012


The other day I had this intense craving for spaghetti and meatballs. I think I will blame the change of season, a very hungry baby, and a rough week. That being said, a good hearty, "feels like home" meal was in order.

Now I know what your thinking. Me too. Squash? In place of pasta? Really? But it's true, spaghetti squash really can handle it's own when it goes up against it's carb-packed opponent. 


If you are looking to cut down on your carb intake, this is the perfect place to start. Pasta is one of those sneaky places you can pack in the calories without even knowing it. Rarely is a serving size enough. Spaghetti squash allows you to forego those rather empty calories. This squash has 42 calories per cup vs. a popular GF pasta brand's 200 calories per 2 oz! Instead this squash provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals.


If I told you that lentils don't produce gas [you know, the embarrassing kind] would you give them a try? What if I said they are super high in soluble fiber which is known to reduce many common Western diseases? How about if I mentioned that they help keep you feeling full longer? Not sold yet? Okay, well they contain a good amount of protein, are high in folate and at least seven minerals [including iron], and need no pre-soaking which makes them quick and easy to cook [although soaking will make them even more digestible and sprouting prior to cooking adds additional health benefits]. If you have never tried lentil I urge you to give them a try. Health benefits aside, they are delicious!


For the Squash:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half, lenthwise, and scoop out seeds. Set seeds aside to roast later. Place squash cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and add about 1/4 inch of water. Bake at 375 degrees until the squash is soft when poked with a fork [this could range anywhere from 20 minutes to and hour depending on the size of your squash]. Remove and let cool until you are able to handle it. Using a fork, gently scrape the squash from the outer edge down towards the center [across not lengthwise], pulling the squash to create "noodles". Repeat on second half. Place squash "noodles" on a plate, sprinkle with a little salt and cracked pepper, and top with pasta sauce and meatballs [see recipes below]. 

For the Meatballs:
Recipe adapted from "Veggie Balls", Natural Health Magazine, April/May 2012 Issue, p. 30

2 c. green lentils [pre-soaked, optional]
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh thyme, finely chopped or 1 tsp. dry thyme
2 tsp. sea salt
3 T. tomato paste
10 - 12 button mushrooms, finely chopped
3 T. ground chia seeds mixed with 9 T. pure water to create gel
1/2 c. ground oats
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley or 3 heaping tablespoons of dried parsley
1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts
Bring lentils and 2 quarts of water to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft, 20 - 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. 

Saute onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt in the olive oil over medium to high heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for 15 more minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl and set aside. 

When vegetable mixture has cooled enough to touch, add in the lentils, chia gel, ground oats, parsley, and walnuts. Mix well using hands. Refrigerate for 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using your hands, form the mixture into balls and line on baking sheet leaving about a 1/4 inch space between them. Lightly coat balls with either olive oil spray or dip your fingertips in a little olive oil and dab. Roast for 30 - 45 minutes or until browned and firm.

Note: You can also top millet, quinoa, or rice with these veggie balls. I like cooking 1/2 part quinoa + 1/2 part millet in vegetable broth and 1 - 2 T. of ground turmeric root powder [don't even get me started on the benefits of this!]. Top with veggie balls and cherry tomatoes and season with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

For the Sauce:

I use homemade canned pasta sauce. I love the recipe found in The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving. You can also use any store bought pasta sauce but please purchase an organic variety in a glass jar to reduce your exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and other toxins. 

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