It’s winter squash season!
As the season changes from summer to autumn, winter squash begins to show up at farmer's markets and grocery stores.
One type of winter squash is the spaghetti squash, which comes in many varieties like the Primavera, a fruit with vibrant yellow skin, and the Small Wonder, a more compact golden-orange fruit that easily serves two (1).
This winter squash is low in fat and calories, but nutrient-packed containing vitamin A, beta carotene, and B vitamins like folate, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin as well as minerals like potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus (2).
Rich in antioxidants, spaghetti squash can help to protect our cells from damage and reduce our risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer (3).
Health Benefits of this Dish
Spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a fruit that is typically served as a vegetable and is harvested from late summer to early fall (1).
The fiber in spaghetti squash adds bulk to the stool and helps to keep the digestive tract moving to avoid constipation and the diseases that can result from chronic constipation (4). To learn more about constipation and related conditions take a look at our November blog post entitled “Healthy Bowel Habits”.
As a source of vitamin C and beta carotene, spaghetti squash provides antioxidants that can reduce our risk for chronic disease and all-cause mortality (5).
The essential vitamin pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) in this winter squash helps turn food into energy for the body and is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells and adrenal hormones (6).
Spaghetti Squash & Chicken Casserole Recipe:
1 medium spaghetti squash, baked
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
¼ - ½ pound mushrooms
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. (each) basil and oregano, dried
¼ tsp. thyme, dried
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
sea salt, and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds (these can be salted and roasted for a treat later 😉). Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the skin is browning and the squash is cooked.
While the squash bakes, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, onion, mushrooms, basil, oregano, thyme, and salt/pepper. Saute until the onion is tender and add the chicken breasts. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 3-5 more minutes. Dice the chicken breasts.
When the squash is cooked, scoop out the stringy flesh and combine it with the sauteed mixture and diced chicken.
Stir in the ricotta cheese and parsley, and transfer to a baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top, about 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!