Sandy's Kitchen: Squash

Showing posts with label Squash. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Squash. Show all posts
I know with Winter just a skip hop around the corner and a lot of you guys will be craving soup! I know I will! Nothing beats a good bowl of soup to warm your insides when it is freezing cold outside! Okay... I know Vegas doesn't get that cold, but being a Floridian most of my life, I sure do get cold easily!

I have fallen in love with kabocha squassh! It's currently my favorite type of squash. I am sorry spaghetti squash. You were my favorite, but I have moved on to something sweeter! Don't worry... our relationship will truly never end because I need you as my pasta!

Roasted is my favorite way to eat kabocha squash. Lately, I have been roasting ahead of time and then freezing it for later uses. Make sure the squash is cooled completely before freezing. Also, I like to measure out 1 1/2 cup portions (3 Greens) and stick them in freezer Ziploc bags. That way it's easy to pull out what I need . When I need the squash, I defrost it in the fridge overnight. For instructions on how to roast kabocha, check out my recipe for Baked Kabocha.

When you have your kabocha squash prepared, the soup is a cinch to make! Just combine the ingredients, simmer for about 10 minutes and blend. It doesn't get any easier than that! This would definitely be a great weeknight lunch or dinner. Just serve with your favorite Lean. You could also prepare the soup and then freeze it in freezable containers.

Feel free to adjust the spices to your taste! There are so many types of variations. I chose to do a basic soup with onion powder, garlic powder and parsley. Gosh, I am boring! The natural sweetness of the squash blended with savory spices makes this soup delicious! You could also try garlic powder, curry powder and garam masala for more of an Indian flavor. Or how about ground ginger, ground cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg to enhance the sweetness of the squash. Maybe even some cardamom or roasted sage? The possibilities are endless if you have a great soup base.

Kabocha squash is an excellent substitute for butternut or pumpkin squash with lower carbs and calories than the other two. It's perfect for a chilly day! Give it a try! Enjoy this yummy soup!

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup

3 cups roasted kabocha squash (6 Greens)
2 cups chicken broth (2 Condiments)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk (1 1/2 Condiments)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (1 Condiment)
1/4 tsp onion powder (1/2 Condiment)
1/2 tsp dried parsley (1/6 Condiment)
1/8 tsp black pepper (1/4 Condiment)

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
This simmering will get the flavors blended. Let cool slightly.

Add mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.
Evenly distribute the mixture into two bowls.

2 servings with 3 Greens and 3 Condiments per serving

Serve this soup with your favorite Lean! I love to eat this with two Trader Joes garlic and herb chicken sausages or two Al Fresco Andouille Chicken Sausages. No healthy fats needed! I slice up the links and heat them in a skillet until they are nice and brown. Then I throw them into the soup. Another option I like is shrimp because shrimp absorbs the flavor of everything! If you choose shrimp, don't forget to add two healthy fats!

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I am fairly new to kabocha squash but man oh man... where has it been all my life? I have absolutely fallen in love with it! It tastes quite similar to butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes but with less carbs!

Kabocha squash is an Asian winter squash commonly known as Japanese pumpkins. It is slightly sweeter than butternut squash, but it has a less calories and carbs. One cup is only 40 calories and 7 grams of carbs! A great veggie for the low carb lovers or those trying to watch their waistline! Not to mention it has lots of beta carotene, iron and vitamins! The taste and texture is a combination of  both pumpkin and sweet potato. Pretty awesome marriage of flavors going on! That is why this squash makes a wonderful substitute for "pumpkin" pie and it works so well for the recipe below.

But wait... where do I find this yummy tasting veggie? I had no problems finding it at my local Trader Joes. They had tons for $2.29 each! I have also heard that they can also be found at local Asian markets (sometimes year round) and local farmers markets. Again, I am fairly new to this squash so I haven't really been searching a long time for it and I am lucky to have a Trader Joes by me.

They are usually available in late Summer to early Fall and can be stored in a cool dry place up to one month. You can extend the life of the squash by freezing it. Check out this site for Ways to Freeze Winter Squash. Try to use plain frozen kabocha squash within 3 months.

The outer layer of kabocha squash can be really tough to cut through. Microwave the squash for about a minute or two to soften it up some. Use a large sharp knife to cut the squash in half. You are really going to have to work at it to get that sucker open. It may help to cut the stem off at the top and then slice through the squash. 

Scoop out all the seeds and guts with a spoon. Guts just sound so appropriate with Halloween coming up, doesn't it?  :) 

Cut the squash into wedges. You can leave it as wedges, but I took it a step further and cut the wedges in half. Also, you can cut or peel the skin off before baking, but I chose to do it after baking since it was easier. Place the pieces on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil. Spray non-stick cooking spray on the squash. I used coconut non-stick cooking spray, but whatever kind will do. Roast the squash for about 30 minutes and then flip the squash over and roast for another 15 minutes or until softened. Let cool.

Once cooled, cut or peel the skin away from the wedges and put the squash in a bowl. Measure out 2 cups for this recipe and store the rest. Add the 2 cups of squash to a blender. Then add all the other ingredients except the walnuts because those are for the topping.

Some people have asked me my sweetened of choice. I love these little packets of stevia that I get from Amazon. There is no bitter aftertaste! We can all appreciate that!

Once you have all your ingredients in the blender, blend until it is nice and smooth. If you need to add a little bit more unsweetened almond or cashew milk, please do so. I found 1/4 cup to be enough but some may like their pies to be a little less dense.

Spray four ramekins with non-stick cooking spray. Evenly distribute the mixture into the ramekins. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Remove the pies from the oven and add the walnuts. This is only an option of course. Seven walnut halves count as one optional snack, but I will tell you this... don't skimp on the nuts! The walnuts get toasted right on the pies and their natural flavors are enhanced. It takes the place of a traditional pie crust, except it is on top of course, and you really just won't miss it. Not to mention walnuts are the only nut with a significant source of plant-based, heart healthy omega-3 fats. If you like, make one or two pies with the nuts and leave the nuts off on the others.


Let the pies cool and add a little bit of fat free reddi whip and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, if desired.

A heavenly dessert just in time for the holidays! Trust me when I say your house will smell like Fall when baking these desserts! Who needs pumpkin pie when I have this healthier version? I know I don't! Enjoy!

Baked Kabocha or 
Crustless "Pumpkin" Pie

2 cups roasted kabocha squash (4 Greens)
1/4 cup unsweetened cashew or almond milk (1/4 Condiment)
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (1 Condiment)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (1 Condiment)
1/2 tsp maple or vanilla extract (1/2 Condiment)
1 packet NuStevia (1 Condiment)
28 Walnut halves (4 Snacks)

Prepare kabocha:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with non-stick foil. If the skin is too tough to cut, place kabocha in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Cut the squash in half.

Spoon out all the seeds. You can cut or peel the skin off before baking, but I found it easier to peel after baking. Do whatever you prefer. Cut the squash into wedges. Lay the wedges on the prepared pan. Spray the wedges with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes. Flip the squash over. Spray with cooking spray. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until it is cooked.
Let cool. 

Once cooled, peel or cut off the skin with a knife. Normally I eat the skin when roasting but for this particular recipe, I like to remove the skin for a smoother richer taste.

Measure out 2 cups of cooked squash, without the skin. Use the rest of the squash for another time.

To make pies:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 4 ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.  Add 2 cups of squash, without the skin, and the rest of the ingredients, except walnuts to the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Remove ramekins from oven and evenly distribute the walnuts on top of each ramekin. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Makes 4 Servings
Each Serving provides
1 Green, 1 Condiment and 1 Optional Snack

I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys! Both the hubs and I approve and that says a lot considering hubby loves his whole wheat pasta! In the past, I would have normally made this dish with pasta, but spaghetti squash works really well for this dish. If you haven't tried spaghetti squash yet, then you don't know what you are missing! It has a nice slight crunch and packed with nutrients, but it does resemble spaghetti noodles, hence the name, "spaghetti" squash. I don't think you will miss pasta, once you try this dish. If you need a tutorial on how to prepare spaghetti squash using a microwave, you can go HERE.

I also substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream which is often found with Mexican dishes. Greek yogurt is so versatile because it can be a healthier substitute for sour cream, mayonnaise and even butter! It helps make dishes thick and creamy without adding all the calories. You gotta love that!

This casserole does freeze well so that is a plus in my book. You got to love those make ahead freezer meals, especially for those busy week nights! It will definitely be a meal found in my freezer.

Yummy comfort food and the perfect dish if you are craving Mexican!

Substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream helps lighten this dish without skimping on flavor! The sauce is a blend of Greek yogurt, enchilada sauce, with a little bit of chili powder to give it extra kick.

Adding the chopped green pepper while the ground beef is cooking softens them up some and gives the beef more flavor.

Rotel tomatoes also help add more zest to the meat with it's perfect blend of tomatoes, green chili peppers and spices. Love this stuff in my Mexican dishes.

Look at that color! Christmas anyone? :)

Drain all the fat and liquids from the eat using a strainer. Return the meat back to the skillet and add the yummy sauce you prepared earlier. Stir until all the lumps from the cream cheese disappear and the sauce becomes smooth.

Next add the spaghetti squash and give it a good stir. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.

Top with cheese and bake until the cheese is melted. Delicious!

Mexican Ground Beef Casserole

4 1/2 cups spaghetti squash, cooked (9 Greens)
1 can Rotel tomatoes (2 1/2 Greens)
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped (1/2 Green)
1.25 pounds 93% lean ground beef (3 Leans)
2/3 cup shredded 2% reduced fat Mexican style cheese (2/3 Lean)
1/2 cup 2% plain Fage Greek yogurt (1/3 Lean)
1/2 cup red enchilada sauce (8 Condiments)
3 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese (3 Condiments)
1/2 tsp chili powder (1 Condiment)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium sized bowl, combine enchilada sauce, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, and chili powder. Stir until combined. It is okay if the mixture is a little lumpy from the cream cheese. The cream cheese will eventually melt when combined with the warm ground beef and spaghetti squash. Set aside.

Over medium high heat, add ground beef, chopped green peppers, and can of Rotel tomatoes to a large skillet. Cook until ground beef is no longer pink and green pepper is tender. Drain meat of all fat and liquid.

Add spaghetti squash and enchilada sauce mixture to the ground beef. Stir until everything is combined.

Pour the mixture into a casserole dish. I used a deep 9 inch square casserole dish. Top with Mexican style cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes 4 Servings
Each serving provides
1 Lean, 3 Greens, and 3 Condiments

This is Not Your Mama's Alfredo Sauce for a reason. This recipe doesn't have all the cream, butter, flour and other unhealthy ingredients that traditional Alfredo recipes might have. It actually has only a few ingredients, but with those few ingredients, it packs a ton of flavor.

What I like most about this sauce is that it is smooth, thick and creamy. It really sticks to the squash noodles and chicken. No watery sauce for me!

I used my Ninja to blend the ingredients together but you can use any small blender you like. You just want to blend until all the ingredients have a smooth texture, resembling sauce. I added cottage cheese, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, unsweetened almond milk and black pepper. That's it! You are done! Easy peasy!

The sauce is actually a great source of protein because of the cottage cheese and it doesn't have a lot of fat! It is right up my alley!

You can kind of see the thickness in this photo. Feel free to add a little more almond milk if you don't want the sauce as thick.

Slap on that sauce!

I chose to serve the sauce on spiraled yellow squash and zucchini so that it resembled pasta. My favorite spiralizer is Paderno which I got from Amazon. Right now it is running about $35 with free shipping, but the price is always changing so check it out. They are really simple to us. You just press the zucchini against the blade of the slicer and crank the handle. As you crank the handle, the spirals come out on the other side. The best part about this machine, is that you don't have to worry about your hand coming in contact with the blade while you are spiraling. Also, this machine will take out the core of the squash which has the seeds. The seeds prevent the noodles from holding together, so you want to make sure the core isn't included.

Another option is the Veggetti which is also on Amazon but I think you can find it in some of the big box stores such as Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. This runs around $13.

You can also use any julienne peeler you like and get great results. These are easy to find and run around $10 or less. If you use one of these peelers, you would pass the peeler down the side of the squash, lengthwise. When you approach the seeds, turn the zucchini and slice another side.

Chicken Alfredo never looked so good! With added color from the squash, healthy nutrients from using veggies instead of pasta, and creamy sauce packed with protein... what more could I ask for in kick starting my weight loss? Enjoy!

Not Your Mama's Chicken Alfredo

4 oz grilled or baked chicken, sliced or diced (2/3 Leaner)

For Alternative Pasta:
1 1/2 cups yellow squash and/or zucchini, spiralized (3 Greens)
1 tsp olive oil (1 Healthy Fat)
1/4 tsp dried basil (1/8 Condiment)

Alfredo Sauce:
1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese (1/3 Leaner)
1/8 tsp salt (1/2 Condiment)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (1 Condiment)
1 tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 Condiment)
1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (1/16 Condiment)
1/8 tsp Fresh ground pepper (1/4 Condiment)

Prepare your squash. You can peel your squash so that it resembles pasta or leave the peel on to add more color to the dish. I like to leave it on because the peel has extra fiber that can regulate your digestive system. Cut the ends off and discard. Next decide which gadget you want to use to make your noodles. Measure out 1 1/2 cups.

Add 1 tsp olive oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add spiraled squash to the oil and cook until squash gets tender for about 2 minutes. Add basil and any other additional seasonings such as salt, pepper, or garlic powder if desired. Put on a plate and set aside.

To make Alfredo sauce, combine cottage cheese, salt, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, almond milk and pepper in a small blender until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a microwave safe dish and heat until warm (about 45 sec to 1 min), stopping the microwave every 15 seconds to stir. Make sure the cottage cheese doesn't get too hot because cottage cheese and heat do not mix well. It will start to separate, get stringy, and watery. Once it was mixed with the squash and chicken, I had no problems with re-heating.

Place cooked diced chicken over squash noodles and then pour warm sauce on top. Enjoy!

1 Serving with 
1 Leaner, 3 Greens, 2.5 Condiments, and 1 Healthy Fat

Do you want to make sure you are getting your water in? Then have a dish that is spicy! Well, this dish isn't extremely spicy, but it has just enough heat to make me grab my water. You can adjust the crushed red pepper as needed but don't be a wimp!

I really like this recipe. The flavors of the different ingredients taste delicious together and reminds me of a yummy Italian dish! Tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, basil and shrimp make a delicious meal. Add the little bit of crushed red pepper and oh my... it really adds some oomph to your dish.

First you need to gather your ingredients!

Heat olive oil with garlic over medium high heat until garlic is lightly browned.

Add your zucchini. I used a Paderno spiral slicer that I got from Amazon. I absolutely love it! It takes a minimal amount of time to slice the zucchini and they make the dish look so pretty :) Not too mention... clean up s a breeze!

Stir in the tomatoes. As the tomatoes cook with the zucchini, water is released from the zucchini. It will make a wonderful tomato sauce. The best part is that you don't have to add too many condiments since the tomatoes are already seasoned with Italian seasoning.

Then you add your shrimp. I used the frozen shrimp that I thawed out. It was already cooked, peeled, deveined and tails removed. I only used 7 oz because I didn't cook the shrimp long in the sauce so it only shrunk a little. If you want to add more shrimp to make sure you get the full 7 oz, please do so.

Add the fresh basil and crushed red pepper. I love fresh basil with tomatoes! Yum!

Simmer for an additional 5 minutes to make sure all the flavors fuse together.

Dinner is served!

Spicy Tomato Shrimp with Zucchini Pasta

2 tsp olive oil (2 Healthy Fats)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 Condiment)
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped or spiral sliced (1 Green)
1 cup Great Value Italian diced tomatoes (2 Greens)
7 oz shrimp, cook, peeled and deveined (1 Lean)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (1/2 Condiment)
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (1/16 Condiment)


In a medium sized skillet, add 2 tsp olive oil and garlic over medium high heat. Saute garlic until lightly brown.
Add zucchini and cook for 2 to 3 min or until zucchini is slightly soft.
Stir in the diced tomatoes and shrimp.
Sprinkle fresh basil and crushed red pepper over the mixture and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until basil is wilted and heated thoroughly.

1 Serving with 1 Lean, 3 Greens, 1.56 Condiments, and 2 Healthy Fats

 Here is a simple dish if you enjoy eating Frank's hot sauce on EVERYTHING! This recipe has cooked spaghetti squash, shredded cabbage, cooked chicken breasts, Frank's hot sauce, ranch dressing and mozzarella cheese! If you don't want to add the cheese, just use 6 oz of cooked chicken instead of the 4.5 oz so you can get a full Lean for the day. For a short cut, use the breast meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. The ranch dressing is the healthy fat, but another variation to try is using 2 tbsp of light cream cheese instead of the ranch dressing. Stir the cream cheese into the spaghetti squash mixture to give it a creamy texture. Just leave out the ranch dressing if you decide to do this. Also, this recipe only makes 1 serving, but feel free to increase the amount of servings by doubling, tripling, etc!

The spaghetti squash and chicken are already prepared. I just grilled the chicken and chopped it up into pieces. If you would like a tutorial on how to cook spaghetti squash, you can check out this post Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Pesto.

In a skillet, add the spaghetti squash, cabbage and spices. Then add the chicken and Frank's hot sauce. Mix it all up until it is combined. Top it with yummy mozzarella cheese! Then drizzle with ranch dressing. If you prefer to bake this instead, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 12 to 15 min or until the cheese is melted and the squash is heated through. Then drizzle the ranch dressing on top before serving.

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash

1 cup cooked spaghetti squash (2 Greens)
1/2 cup cabbage, chopped - Use tri color cole slaw mix and take out the carrots to save time (1 Green)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (1/2 Condiment)
1/8 tsp onion powder (1/4 Condiment)
4.5 oz of grilled, baked or cooked chicken breasts, chopped into pieces (3/4 Leaner)
2 tbsp Frank's buffalo hot sauce (1 Condiment)
1/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/4 lean)
1 1/2 tbsp light ranch dressing (3/4 Healthy Fat)

In a non-stick skillet, add spaghetti squash and cabbage over medium high heat.
Add garlic powder, onion powder, chicken and Frank's hot sauce and stir until combined and heated thoroughly.
Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and let melt.
Drizzle ranch dressing on top before serving.

Makes 1 Serving
Each serving provides
1 Lean, 3 Greens, 2 Condiments, and 3/4 Healthy Fat per serving (for the chicken)

If you prefer to bake this instead, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 12 to 15 min or until the cheese is melted and the squash is heated through. Then drizzle the ranch dressing on top before serving.

I am a huge pesto sauce lover! I usually make my own pesto using olive oil, basil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts, but I wanted to try it with an Italian salad dressing in place of olive oil for added extra flavor! It was a success!

This recipe uses all the usual ingredients when making pesto except the olive oil. In place of olive oil, I used Italian salad dressing. Ken's Steakhouse makes a wonderful basil and romano dressing that is perfect for this recipe.

Using this dressing instead of olive oil, allows you to use 2 tablespoons instead of 1 teaspoon as one healthy fat with chicken! The more the merrier!

I used my magic bullet to make the pesto sauce. First I added the dressing.

Then I added the chopped fresh basil.

Finally, I added the parmesan cheese, pine nuts and garlic.

Blend away until you get that desired consistency.

Yum! Look at that creamy goodness! Set aside until ready to use.

Spaghetti squash is one of those veggies that make a wonderful alternative to pasta. I love the slight crunch and sweetness of this veggie. Actually, I use it quite often when I am craving a pasta substitute. You can't go wrong with only 40 calories and 8 grams of carbs per 1 cup! Not to mention it is sooooo easy to prepare. The microwave is my preferred cooking method.

First, poke some holes around the spaghetti squash so steam  can be released. Otherwise, your spaghetti squash just might explode in your microwave! You can use a knife but I used a metal skewer. Place the squash on a plate and microwave in 3 minute intervals, turning the squash around between intervals so that the squash can cook more evenly. You know when it is done when it begins to get soft. Mine usually takes between 9 to 11 minutes, depending on the size of your squash.

 Let the squash cool before handling. Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard.

Make sure you remove all the excess strands and the seeds.

Scrape the inside of the squash with a fork to loosen the spaghetti strands into a bowl or plate.

Spaghetti squash noodles!

Gather all your ingredients together... 2 1/2 cups prepared spaghetti squash, grilled or baked chicken chopped into pieces, 1/2 cup Italian diced tomatoes (not pictured) and 1/3 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese (not pictured). You don't have to use mozzarella cheese but I am a firm believer in cheese making everything taste better :) If you want to leave the cheese out, then use 12 oz grilled or baked chicken.

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and add the spaghetti squash, chicken and pesto over medium high heat. Toss the squash and chicken with the pesto sauce until evenly coated. I added the diced tomatoes at the last minutes. Divide the mixture into two portions and sprinkle with mozzarella.

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Pesto

For the Pesto:
1/4 cup Kens Steakhouse Lite Northern Italian with Basil and Romano Dressing (2 Healthy Fats)
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped (1 Condiment)
2 tbsp reduced fat grated Kraft parmesan cheese (1 Condiment)
40 pine nuts (2 Condiments)
1 tsp minced garlic (1 Condiment)

For the Chicken Spaghetti Squash Dish:
10 oz grilled or baked chicken (1 2/3 Lean)
1/3 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese (1/3 Lean)
2 1/2 cups spaghetti squash strands, cooked (5 Greens)
1/2 cup Great Value Italian diced tomatoes, drained (1 Green)

To make pesto, combine all the ingredients for the pesto in a small blender or food processor. I used my magic bullet. Blend until desired consistency. Set aside.

Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti squash, chicken and pesto. Stir until combined and heated thoroughly. When heated, toss in the diced tomatoes. Divide the mixture into two portions. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese between the two portions. Enjoy!

2 servings with 
1 Leaner Lean, 3 Greens, 2.5 Condiments and 1 Healthy Fat per serving

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