Many of you may have gleaned from my past articles that I lean towards lower-carbohydrate foods in my personal life. As an athlete, I need my calories to sustain my lifestyle. But years ago I discovered that when I ingest large quantities of refined carbs—the kind that are converted to glucose quicker than their complex counterparts—my performance goes way downhill. My muscles feel stiff and weak. I’m mentally and physically sluggish and fatigued. I feel bloated, and I get mood swings. Unsurprisingly, most of the carbohydrates in the Standard American Diet are refined carbs, and they’re used in copious amounts—a fundamental reason why the country’s health is in severe decline. Since my personal discovery years ago, I’ve significantly decreased the amount of simple carbohydrates I eat, preferring more nutrient-dense carbohydrates and fats to keep me fueled.
Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite “swaps.” Though in my opinion, it cannot be considered a true substitute for a delicious bowl of perfectly cooked pasta. (Yes, I still eat stuff like that, just not every day.) The only similarity is that it’s stringy and somewhat resembles spaghetti in shape. With that said, I don’t pretend spaghetti squash is something it’s not, rather I just think of it as a delicious vegetable to treat as a base in the way I might treat pasta.
Spaghetti squash is unique from its other winter squash companions in that it’s comprised mostly of water. In other words, it really doesn’t have a whole lot to it, besides a nominal amount of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It may even be considered a negative-caloric food, meaning you burn more calories digesting it than you do by eating it. But I find it delicious nonetheless. When I use spaghetti squash in a recipe, I add lots of protein and healthy fats for a calorie-dense meal that will sustain me.
Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash with Feta and Olives
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 handful basil, roughly chopped
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper
Grilled chicken, meat, or seafood (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place flesh side down on a baking sheet. Bake about 45 minutes, or until just tender (overcooking will make it get mushy). Remove from oven and cool slightly. When you can handle it, separate squash strands with a fork.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, cook onions and garlic in a few tablespoons olive oil until tender. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spaghetti squash strands to pan. Toss to combine. Add tomatoes, basil, and olives. Season with a bit more salt and pepper.
- Spoon into serving dishes and top with crumbled feta and grilled meat, if using. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products