Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our Favorite Healthy Weeknight Dinner

Is one of your new year's resolutions to eat healthier?  I have been trying to help my family eat more "real food" for the past year or so.  We've always eaten what I thought was pretty healthy, but I've recently started paying attention to the ingredients list more than the nutrition information.  If I can't pronounce an ingredient or don't use it to cook with it, most likely I'm not putting it in the shopping cart.  We are about 90% there.  One of the big stumbling blocks is the hidden sugar.  You know it's going to be plentiful in cookies and juices, but why is it in crackers or tomato sauce?!


I have had such a hard time finding a tomato sauce at the grocery store that has real ingredients and no sugar.  And then I saw this awesome feature in Southern Living magazine.  Soon I saw Nello's Sauce available in my Produce Box delivery and was finally able to try it!  Absolutely delicious.  Like, who needs pasta delicious, just get a spoon.


And look at that clean ingredient list!  Plus vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, real USA grown tomatoes from a 44-farm cooperative, and an awesome company that gives back through "Our Hearts Beat Hunger."  Where can you get this jar of literal awesome sauce?  Here's a list of retailers or you can order online.  I was excited to see the Charlotte-area Publix stores on the list!

So, I have a special announcement:  I'm going to be a Brand Ambassador for Nello's Sauce!  For full disclosure I am not being paid for this post, but I was given free sauce and all opinions expressed are mine - I wouldn't do this with something I didn't love!


Now, onto the easy weeknight recipe.  You will need three things, I know, tough! A large spaghetti squash or two, a jar of Nello's Sauce (I used the Piedmont Pomodoro because I was dying to try the lavender, and it didn't disappoint, plus my house smelled heavenly), and some good quality ricotta.  Again, we're subbing out all the "low-fat" high processed food in favor of the real stuff, so I used whole milk ricotta which packs a protein punch.

I am going to show you how to make spaghetti squash in the oven, which takes almost an hour with about  five minutes of hands on time.  You can also make your squash in the microwave, just prick it with a fork a LOT, and microwave it whole for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the size and the microwave (if it starts hissing vigorously, turn it off!).  Or if you are gone in the day and want it ready when you walk in the door you can cook it in the crock pot, on low for 6 hours with 1.5 Cups water and, again, lots of pokes with a fork or knife.  Exploding squash is not as fun as it sounds.


1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  I find the squash hard to chop, so I put it in the warm oven, whole, for 20 minutes and then I easily can chop off the stem, and slice it in half lengthwise.  Make sure to scoop out the seeds.  Now you can place the halves on a cookie sheet and if this is just so easy you feel like you have to do something else, you can brush it with a little olive oil, but it's really not necessary.  Return the squash to the oven for about 20 minutes or until the strands easily separate from the skin and are al dente.  When you have about 5 minutes left, heat up your Nello's Sauce on the stove and enjoy that lovely aroma.



Before I made a spaghetti squash this was the step that intimidated me "use a fork to remove the strands."  I guess I thought the scraping motion of the forks created the spaghetti-like strands and maybe there was some technique I wouldn't be able to figure out.  No.  Absolutely not.  The easiest part. The squash already has strands and the fork just pulls them away from the skin.  Pile them up on your plate.  Top with the Nello's Sauce.  It's wonderful already, but add that ricotta.  Trust me, this is filling, but without the ricotta you're looking at a 100 calorie dinner, so you need the protein and fat from the ricotta to round it out and keep you full.


This pairs really well with a nice salad.  But sometimes I am so rushed during the week that all that chopping and rinsing seems daunting. Enter broccolini, or broccoli or asparagus or whatever veggie you like.  Since your oven is already on a nice high heat, just add some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast the veggies for the last 5-10 minutes the spaghetti squash cooks.  Easy, peasy.  And look at all those veggies in one meal!


Sean had a second bowl which he gleefully ate with his hands as fast as he could shove it in, no time for the cast aside fork.  Notice Bettis, the dog, on high alert for any spills.  No such luck today, Sean was uber careful not to let any drop!





















1 comment:

  1. I'll have to look for this sauce. I'm always hoping to keep my food intake healthy.

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