Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps with Amazing Peanut Sauce

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

One bite of these lettuce wraps and you are never going back to those PF Changs wraps again! I love these wraps for so many reasons. Number one, I love them because they are delicious: savory, crunchy, fresh, and filling. I just had three for lunch and I feel pleasantly full, but not tired or zapped of energy, the way I often feel after eating a big lunch. Number two, I love them because they are filled with healthy high protein ingredients (heyy lentils AND tofu). Number three, I love them because they are vegan and no animals were harmed in the making of them, not even a dairy cow.

Amazing Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce

The real star of this dish is the peanut sauce. The AMAZING peanut sauce. This sauce is so creamy and delicious with the perfect balance of salty versus sweet. The red pepper gives it a tiny bit of a spicy kick and the minced shallots add a hint of garlic flavor. It’s perfect. I want to put this sauce on everything (or even just lick it straight out of the bowl)! I made the peanut sauce as the recipe calls for, and within a couple minutes the sauce was all gone. I then had to make another batch, too bad I had already washed the pan. Boo to more dishes. I’m going to give you a doubled recipe so you wont be faced with this dillema.

From a nutritional standpoint you can’t go wrong with this recipe. It’s vegan, low carb, and gluten-free, if you use gluten free soy sauce. This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light June 2012. I just made a few changes; added lentils, water chestnuts, and left out the white rice (although I do recommend serving the wraps with brown rice on the side).

lettuce wraps
Butter or Bib leaf lettuce works well for the wrap

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
Top with sauce, peanuts, and sriracha!

Nutrition Facts: Serves 4 (2 lettuce wraps and 2 Tbsp peanut sauce) 348 calories, 18 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat, 790 mg sodium, 26 g carb, 9 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 24 g protein

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps with Amazing Peanut Sauce
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Sauce
  • 2 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoon minced shallot
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange or lime juice
Filling
  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 6 thinly sliced green onions (about ⅔ cup), divided
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained, rough chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 8 Bibb lettuce leaves
  • ¼ cup peanuts for topping
Instructions
  1. To prepare sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add ⅓ cup water and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper), and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in fruit juice.
  2. To prepare filling, spread crumbled tofu in a single layer on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add ⅓ cup green onions; sauté 1 minute. Add tofu; sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, lentils, water chestnuts and Sriracha; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cucumbers, carrots, and remaining green onions.
  4. Spoon about ½ cup tofu mixture on to lettuce; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve with sauce, peanuts and sriracha if desired
Notes
If eating as a main dish serve with brown rice.
To cut down on prep time by pre-cooked lentils. I got mine from Trader Joe's.

Migas for the Amigos

Migas (eggs with corn tortillas)After giving you the green light to eat egg yolks, I knew I had to make an egg dish. Hands down, migas is my favorite way to make eggs. Migas (pronounced Mee-guhs) is simply just scrambled eggs with fried corn tortilla. I don’t know what it is, but adding that warm, crunchy, freshly salted tortilla to your eggs really kick them up a notch. It may seem weird to add the tortilla directly into the half cooked eggs, but the outcome is scrumptious! When I told my Mom what migas was, she said “eww, that sounds weird.” Sounds weird, but tastes amazing. After one bite, she was hooked.migas

Migas is the perfect breakfast for dinner dish. While it can be cooked up fairly quickly, only 10-15 minutes, I don’t expect you to make migas before you head off to work in the morning. You can serve it on top of warm corn tortillas or with rice and beans, if you want to go full Tex-Mex. Cheese is not required because the dish is so flavorful on its own, but a little extra sprinkle on top never hurt. If you are feeling really lazy or pressed for time you could also make this with store bought tortilla chips.

Cut the tortillas into strips
Cut the tortillas into strips
migas
Fry them up until they are nice and golden brown

For a healthier variation, you can bake the tortillas in the oven instead of frying them. It works fine, they just don’t get quite as crispy. Which is okay, because they are going back into the eggs and will get a little soggy anyway. Soggy in a soft chewy way, not in an unappetizing old soggy cereal way. To make them in the oven preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 2 tortillas on a baking sheet and spray both sides with olive oil cooking spray. Cook for 10 minutes, until they start to brown, but not burn.Migas (eggs with corn tortillas)

migas

Migas (scrambled eggs with tortilla)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • canola oil for frying (enough to cover large pan)
  • 2 small corn tortillas
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • 2 tbsp bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp onion, diced
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh pico de gallo
  • avocado for topping
  • cheese for topping
Instructions
  1. Heat canola oil in large pan over medium heat.
  2. When oil is hot (1 small test tortilla strip should sizzle) add tortilla strips.
  3. Fry about 1 minute. Remove from oil with spider or slotted spoon when starting to brown.
  4. Set on a paper towel to dry. Season with a pinch of salt.
  5. In a new pan, saute onions, pepper, and jalapeno in one teaspoon oil. Let cook about 2 minutes. Don't let the onion burn!
  6. Mix the eggs with the milk and a pinch of salt. Stir.
  7. Reduce heat to medium low and add egg mixture to the saute pan.
  8. When the eggs are about half- way cooked, add the tortilla strips. Mix in well.
  9. Continue cooking eggs until soft and fluffy.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste
  11. Remove from heat. Top with pico de gallo, avocado, and shredded cheese if desired.
Notes
If you prefer to not fry, tortillas can be baked in the oven. See third blog paragraph for directions.
 

 

Egg Yolks: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

Egg yolks. Love 'Em or leave 'Em?

Is it healthier to choose a three egg omelette or a six egg white scramble? For years the high cholesterol yolk has been demonized compared to the protein rich egg white, but do we have it all wrong? Could the yolk actually be good for us? Let’s take a look…

One large egg has 80 calories, 6 grams protein, 5 grams of fat, and almost zero carbs. It also has roughly 200 mg of cholesterol (all in the yolk). Previous recommendations were to keep dietary cholesterol under 300 mg for the entire day. Therefore, if you eat 2 eggs, you are already over your cholesterol limit for the day. (Darn it!) However, new research is showing that the amount of cholesterol we eat in our diet does not affect our blood cholesterol very much. Blood cholesterol is more likely to be raised because of genetic factors, a diet high in trans fat, saturated fat, or possibly too much sugar. The evidence is so strong that the recommendation for cholesterol is being taken out of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Despite its reputation as the unhealthy part of the egg, the yolk contains nearly half the protein and some healthy nutrients that you won’t get from the white. One of these essential nutrients is choline. Choline plays an important role in fetal brain development; making cooked eggs a perfect food for pregnant women. The yolk also contains the antioxidants leutine and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health and may help protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.

eggs
Are the days of separating the white from the yolk over?

Does this mean we have the green light to go egg yolk crazy? Almost. While cholesterol may not be a concern, eggs yolks do still contain a gram or two of saturated fat. The most recent studies show that consumption of one egg per day does not raise cholesterol and does not increase risk of cardiovascular disease. A few shorter term studies have even shown that it is safe to consume two to three eggs per day without any adverse health outcomes. Not to mention that the protein and fat in eggs can help keep blood sugar more stable than a carb rich breakfast like a bowl of sugary cereal or bagel. Regular egg consumption for breakfast has even been shown to have benefits in weight reduction.

Here are a few simple tips to enjoy eggs in a healthy way:

  • Make a veggie scramble with red peppers, tomatoes, onions and a small sprinkle of cheese
  • Don’t cook eggs in butter. Use a non-stick pan or olive oil cooking spray.
  • Hard-boiled eggs make a great on-the-go snack.
  • Try them in migas! Recipe coming tomorrow.
  • Top salads with sliced hard boiled eggs for a quick protein source

The final verdict on egg yolks: Love them! If you have a high risk for cardiovascular disease (high cholesterol, family history) I would stick with seven or less per week.

References:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v32/n10/abs/ijo2008130a.html

http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/lutein.htm

Greek Yogurt: Love It or Leave It?

Greek YogurtIn 2005 the only choice we had to make when choosing yogurt was what flavor to buy. Oh how times have changed. Today there are a plethora of choices in the yogurt aisle. Non-dairy, Greek, German, and the newcomer, Icelandic Yogurt. German and Icelandic Yogurt are very similar to Greek, nutrition and taste wise. The popularity of Greek Yogurt has skyrocketed since 2007, when Greek Yogurt accounted for less than 1% of total yogurt sales. Today, over 40% of all yogurt sold is Greek.

Yogurt is made from milk with healthy bacteria added, which ferment it and make it thicker. Then the yogurt is strained. Greek yogurt is triple strained, leaving it thicker and with a higher protein content than traditional yogurt. Greek yogurt also tends to have a lower sugar content. However, all brands are different so it’s best to read the label to find out how much sugar is in your yogurt. Originally, Greek yogurt was almost always a better choice as it was low in sugar and high in protein. However, now that it’s becoming more main stream, added sugars and artificial sweeteners are working their way into Greek Yogurt. Here are a few tips for buying a healthy yogurt.

  • Look for the protein content to be higher than the sugar. (or at least close) Siggis Icelandic Mixed Berry Yogurt has more protein than sugar.
  • Look for a short ingredients list without a lot of additives or artificial sweeteners (some low sugar yogurts use artificial sweeteners like sucralose (splenda), xylitol, erythritol, and aspartame.
  • Choose plain yogurt when you can and add your own fruit or a small drizzle of honey. FYI plain does not mean vanilla.
Siggi's Icelandic Yogurt
Siggi’s Icelandic Yogurt is a good choice. It is one of the only flavored yogurts which has more protein than sugar.
Icelandic Yogurt
110 calories, 14 grams protein and 11 grams sugar
Yoplait Yogurt
Original Yoplait is not a good choice because it is very high in sugar
170 calories,  5 grams protein, 26 grams sugar
170 calories, 5 grams protein, 26 grams sugar

Aside from just having yogurt as a snack, plain Greek Yogurt can help you make some healthy swaps when cooking. In some recipes it works well as a replacement for sour cream or heavy whipping cream. You can also enjoy it as a dip for vegetables, just add a seasoning packet to it. This recipe from Rocco DiSpirito is one of my favorite ways to make a healthy fettucine alfredo. You can also try making my pistachio pasta with Greek Yogurt or a yogurt parfait.

Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese
Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese

Due to the success of Greek Yogurt some company’s are adding it into other dairy products like cream cheese, as a way to woo you in with that big fat GREEK label. Is this just a marketing scheme or is it actually better for you? In most cases, if the yogurt is replacing a high fat food, it is a healthier option. The Greek cream cheese I found at the grocery store was lower in calories, fat, and slightly higher in protein than traditional cream cheese (think 3 grams of protein instead of 2). Nutritionally, this would make it a better option.

The final verdict on Greek Yogurt: LOVE IT!

Are there any foods you would like to see featured on Love it or Leave it? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Caution: This Food is Natural

Caution: This Food is NaturalYesterday as I was strolling down the beverage aisle of the grocery store, I spied these little princess and superhero-shaped water bottles. It’s a bit sad that marketers would have to put water in a princess container for kids to enjoy it; but if that’s what it takes for kids to drink water, it’s cool with me.  I picked up the bottle for further examination, and come to find out; it’s not actually water. It’s a “Naturally Flavored Water Drink.” Yep, it’s “natural water” with sodium hexametaphosphate, stevia extract, malic acid, potassium sorbate, and a heap of added B vitamins. The label proudly states “Water, Only Better.” I have a new slogan for you Aquaball, “Water, Only Worse.” I should work in advertising, right?

There is that lovely list of natural ingredients
There is that lovely list of natural ingredients
Flavored water is not good for you
Water, Only Worse!

Why, oh why on earth do we need to put stevia in children’s water drinks?  Why is there even such a thing as a “water drink?” I’d rather have my (non-existent) kid drink water out of the hose than drink that stupid crap. Sure, stevia is derived from a plant, but after a child gets a taste for sweetened water, do you think they are ever going to want plain, actual water again? Probably not.  Not to mention that Stevia is not produced just by grinding up a leaf. It undergoes quite a bit of processing to get the sweet flavor, and knock out the bitter fl

Noah’s First Birthday Party

This past weekend we celebrated my nephew’s first birthday. It was a doggy themed party, complete with puppy chow (coco puffs), doggy goodie bags, and of course, a doggy cake. I made the doggy cake using this recipe. It was actually pretty easy. The only thing I did differently was used cookies for the eyes instead of spice drops. I also added the pink ears with the fruit roll up. If you ever plan on throwing a doggy themed birthday party, I highly recommend this cake.

Doggy Goodie Bag
If there is a stick anywhere near, Noah is sure to find it!

Puppy Dog Cake

It was such a beautiful day filled with adorable kiddos, lot’s of jumping in the bounce house, and delicious food! We had some of the food catered from Ali Baba cafe in Simi Valley. They have really good made from scratch Mediterranean food and they are always very friendly. The rest of the salads were homemade by my family. It was lovely to see real adult food being served to children, instead of the standard pizza, chicken nuggets, or hot dog. Death to the Chicken Finger sums up perfectly how I feel about children being offered only certain “kiddie” foods all the time. It ruins what little food culture we have and makes childhood obesity sky rocket all at the same time. End Rant.

P1030995

Overall, it was a great day. My sister planned everything perfectly and we all had a wonderful time! Now for a barrage of friends and family pictures.

Yes, that’s a tear drop rolling down his cheek. There was just a little drama with the candle blowing out.
With Mommy and Daddy
With Mommy and Daddy
It's not a party at the Mason's unless there are two Elsas!
It’s not a party at the Mason’s unless there are two Elsas!

P1180840

P1180835

P1180768

We tried to get all the babies together looking the same way. Nope, not gonna work!

P1040017

P1040012

Babies in a wagon!
Babies in a wagon!
The whole gang
The whole gang!
I hope you had a Happy Hirthday Noah! Auntie Heath loves you!
I hope you had a Happy Hirthday Noah! Auntie Heath loves you!

 

Israeli Couscous with Hearts of Palm

Warm Israeli Couscous

Happy President’s Day Everybody! How exactly do you celebrate this holiday? Weekend of snowboarding perhaps? Sleeping in and going to brunch? Making this amazing Israeli Couscous salad? That’s patriotic for sure!

Have you ever had Israeli Couscous? It’s also called pearl couscous. I don’t know why but it is so much better than the regular kind! There is something about the shape and texture of those little balls that I just really love! The way they feel in your mouth… ok, I’m going to stop here. But seriously you should try it. Next time you want to make couscous, go for Israeli!

Usually couscous is served cold with tons of parsley. This couscous is best served warm with just a smidgen of parsley for garnish. If you’re not into parsley (like myself) you could even use basil. Another reason this couscous is so amazing is the addition of coconut milk! It makes it creamy, almost like risotto, but without all that time slaving over the stove!

If hearts of palm are new to you, try them out! They taste a little bit like artichoke hearts.
If hearts of palm are new to you, try them out! They taste a little bit like artichoke hearts.

P1030948

Unfortunately, couscous is not much of a gem nutritionally. It’s a grain with barely any fiber. However, the other ingredients are very nutritious and all fairly low-calorie. If you are wanting to make this recipe lighter, get the coconut milk in the carton in the dairy section, not the coconut milk in the can. If you want to make it heavier or creamier, go for the canned kind.

I have a confession. I didn’t actually use coconut milk when I made this recipe. I intended to, but that can of coconut milk which I thought was hiding in the back of the pantry seemed to disappear. Going back to the grocery store just for one item is such a bummer. So I created my own coconut milk from coconut water and evaporated milk. I thought this was pretty clever myself. The flavor and texture were actually very similar to the real deal. So when you make this recipe (and I know you are going to) you can make it either way.  Warm Israeli couscous

Warm Israeli Couscous

This recipe is adapted from Amanda’s Apron. 

Warm Israeli Couscous with Hearts of Palm
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces Israeli Couscous
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • ½ tsp salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ½ green or red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 14 oz. can hearts of palm, chopped
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • fresh chopped parsley to garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add olive oil, onions and carrots. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add salt, pepper, and garlic.
  4. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Pour in Israeli Coucous and cook for 8 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Reduce heat and pour in coconut milk, bell pepper, hearts of palm, and cayenne. Stir well to combine
  7. Turn off heat. Garnish with chopped parsley.
 

Sea Salt, Kosher, Pink Himalayan: What Salt is Best?

Salt is an essential component of a balanced diet. Sodium chloride (salt) is needed to maintain fluid balance and proper cardiac functioning. Consume too little salt during intense exercise and you’re at risk for dehydration and hyponatremia. If you consume too much your destined for a life of high blood pressure and swollen ankles. So what is the right amount, and is there a certain type of salt that’s better than the other?

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
From left to right: Sea salt, table salt, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, Kosher Salt

The recommended amount of sodium for healthy Americans (those without hypertension) is 2300 milligrams (mg) per day. That’s equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. On Average, Americans consume between 3000 to 4000 mg per day. Keep in mind that table salt is not our only source of sodium, many processed foods and fast foods contain large amounts. One In-N-Out Double-Double has 1500 mg of sodium and one package of Top Ramen Noodles has 1600 mg of sodium.

Sea Salt. In a recent survey by the American Heart Association 61% of people incorrectly responded that sea salt had less sodium than table salt. By weight, table salt and sea salt have the same amount of sodium. Both are roughly 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The main difference between sea salt and regular salt is how it is produced. Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water, usually with little processing. Table salt is mined from salt mines and is more heavily processed which removes trace amounts of minerals. Table salt also has added iodine (to prevent goiter) and may contain anti-caking agents (calicium silicate) to prevent clumping. For culinary purposes, sea salt has a courser texture and may impart a stronger flavor than table salt.

Kosher Salt. All salt is Kosher. Kosher salt got its name because it was originally used for religious purposes. Jewish law required that the blood be extracted from meat before eating it. The flaky, course structure of Kosher salt is particularly efficient at extracting blood. You can use kosher salt to extract blood or you can use it to provide flavor and a flaky texture to your food, your choice.

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. Pink Himalayan Sea salt is the new pure maple syrup. Every “nutritionist” cough, salesperson, is promoting it, and it will probably cure all of your ailments. Just do a quick internet search and you will find that the pink salt can detoxify your organs, lower your blood pressure, improve circulation, and help you sleep. I’m skeptical. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt is mined from salt mines in Pakistan. It is less processed because it is stone ground and does retain some trace amounts of minerals likes calcium, iron and potassium. There is some evidence that pink salt is slightly lower in sodium than regular. Spectral analysis show that it contains roughly 38% sodium, compared to the typical 40%. This is not a big difference. Not enough for me to pay double or triple the price of regular salt.

The bottom line is that all salt contains similar amounts of sodium. If you prefer one type over the other for cooking purposes go ahead and use it. Nutritionally, the differences are miniscule.

References

http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/sodium-411/sea-salt-vs-table-salt/

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/pass-the-salt-but-not-that-pink-himalayan-stuff/

 

Dietitian Approved Eats at Starbucks

Some days there is just no time to pack a healthy lunch. On those days, I often turn to my friend, Starbucks. It’s located everywhere, you can get in and out fairly quick, and it smells great. Although they do offer many high calorie drinks and pastries, it is possible to get a delicious and healthy meal that will leave you feeling energized for the rest of your day. Here are a few of my favorites!

Best Lunch Item: Hearty Veggie and Brown Rice Salad Bowl. I’m slightly obsessed with this salad. Not only is it great tasting and filling; nutritionally, it’s a thing of beauty. Kale, orange and red veggies, whole grains, I really couldn’t ask for more. Even with the dressing it only has 430 calories. It also offers over 100% of your daily value of vitamin A and vitamin C. Just from one meal! I highly recommend this salad. If for some reason you are not within a 5 mile radius of a Starbucks you can find a copycat recipe here.

My favorite kale and brown rice salad. Image from blogs.starbucks.com
My favorite kale and brown rice salad. Image from blogs.starbucks.com

Runner Up: Protein Bistro Box. The bistro box is also a good choice. Despite it’s name, it’s not that high in protein. It has 13 grams of protein, which is not even a fourth of the recommended 65 grams per day. But overall, I like it. The box includes grapes, apple slices, 1 egg, small nut butter packet, white cheddar and 1 multigrain bread. The total calories come in at 380, which leaves you a little room for a drink.

Best Drink: Iced Coffee or Tea. It may not be as exciting as a frappucino, but it’s a heck of a lot better for you. The closer your coffee is to real coffee, and the less it resembles a milk shake, the better it is for you! If you want to add a little extra excitement to your coffee or tea get it with nonfat milk or soy. It’s best unsweetened. If you prefer sweetened ask for just 1 or 2 pumps of sweetener. Each pump of sweetener or teaspoon of sugar adds twenty calories.

Runner Up: Skinny Vanilla or Hazelnut Latte. A tall skinny latte only has 100 calories, which makes it a decent choice calorie wise. The main calorie savings come from using non-fat milk and an artificially sweetened syrup instead of the classic sugar sweetened syrup. I’m okay with artificial sweeteners in small amounts, but if you prefer to avoid them then don’t order “the skinny.”

Best Treat: Petite Vanilla Bean Scone. I love that Starbucks actually offers a small pastry, so many times I want a little treat, but I’m not about to order a 400 calorie muffin. The little sign in the display counter encourages you to order 3 petite scones, but you don’t have to. Just go for one and enjoy your 120 calorie treat.

Delicious vanilla bean scone. Image from bakingbites.com
Delicious vanilla bean scone. Image from starbucks.com

Runner Up: Cake Pop. Again, I chose this as a good treat because it is a small serving which has built in calorie control. BUT, keep in mind that cake pops are very dense so the calories are not as low as one might think. My favorite kind (salted caramel cake pop) is still 180 calories. Sigh. A cake pop is essentially made by taking a fluffy piece of cake and then smooshing it down to form a dense ball with frosting. Is this healthy? No. Is it delicious? Yes. In comparison to the other pastries the cake pop still wins because it’s less than half of the calories of the other “treat foods.”

What are your favorite healthy Starbucks eats?

P.S. Did you notice any changes? What do you think?

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Roasted Garlic

Spaghetti squash with roasted garlicThe first time I ever had spaghetti squash I was less than thrilled. I was told “it tastes just like spaghetti.” Nope, it definitely does not. It basically tastes like crunchy water. The shape is spaghetti-like, but the texture and flavor are quite different. If you make spaghetti squash with regular marinara, you’re probably in for a disappointment. If you make this spaghetti squash, you’re in for a real treat! The squash absorbs all the wonderful flavors of the leeks and transforms into a delicious main dish or side.

spaghetti squash
Look for a medium to small size squash, otherwise it’s impossible to cut in half
Find your sharpest chef's knife and hack that baby in half
Find your sharpest chef’s knife and hack that baby in half
scoop out the sides, don't worry if it's not perfect
Scoop out the seeds, don’t worry if it’s not perfect

Why spaghetti squash? Because it’s fun, it’s in season, and it is super low carb. Not that I follow a low carb diet, (like ever) I just like to experiment and try different things. If you are following a low carb diet or doing the paleo thing, give this recipe a try! Just for a little number comparison, a one cup serving of regular spaghetti has 43 grams of carbohydrate, while a one cup serving of spaghetti squash only has 7 grams of carbohydrate. The other veggies in the dish contribute minimal carbs, with the exception of the garbanzo beans. If you are serving this as a side dish, you could go bean-less. For a main dish I like to keep them as a good source of vegetarian protein and iron.

roasted garlic
Chop off the top, hit it with some olive oil and salt and pepper, and wrap it in tin foil
When its done it should spread like butter
When its done it should spread like butter

The roasted garlic is one of my favorite parts of this dish. It cooks right along side the spaghetti squash so there is no extra work or pans to dirty. Just pop it in some tinfoil and roast for forty minutes with the squash. When it’s done its soft and fragrant, but not quite as pungent as raw or sauteed garlic. If you need more detailed instructions on the roasting process see here.

spaghetti squash
Once roasted, scrape the squash out with a fork

spaghetti squash

spaghetti squash with roasted garlic
If you look real close you can see the steam

spaghetti squash with roasted garlic

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Roasted Garlic
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 heads garlic, roasted whole
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • black pepper
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 3 big handfuls fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegan butter
  • red pepper flakes
  • parmesan cheese to top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cut spaghetti squash in half with very sharp knife. Remove seeds and wet fleshy part.
  2. Place halves face down on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes. Squash should be tender and easily pierced with a fork when done.
  3. Cut off tops of whole garlic head. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper. Wrap in tin foil and roast with squash.
  4. Saute leeks in olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes until browning slightly. Add garbanzo beans, green onions, and salt.
  5. Add spinach and roasted garlic. Chop one head of garlic, leave the other garlic cloves whole. Add both garlics to the pan.
  6. Add slivered almonds.
  7. Scrape spaghetti squash into a bowl. Mix with 1 tbsp butter.
  8. Add spaghetti squash to saute pan and mix.
  9. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  10. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.