When I walk into my kitchen to make dinner, I am usually craving a certain flavor. Is that normal?! Some flavor combinations that I crave, in case you are thinking I am crazy, are syrup and a glass of milk, sauce and cheese, and of course, my beloved veggie omelette and sweet potato. Although I guess that last one is technically a meal and not a flavor. But do you see what I’m saying?! Sometimes, there is just one flavor that you know that you want! One of my favorite flavors is sauce and cheese. 🙂
One of my classic favorite meals. So exciting, I know.
I don’t profess to be a food blogger, and for that you should be thankful because I literally have no idea what I’m talking about. It irritates me when the ingredient list includes more than five items, I typically cook when I’m hangry therefore I am very impatient, and I own probably 7 spices and never have the one that the recipe calls for. On the flip side, I am always trying to find something new to love making and eating and I tend to search for healthy alternatives. I like to know that I’m eating a variety of food to help me be my healthiest, because if left to my own devices, I would try to survive on chips, queso, oatmeal, and yogurt. #keepingitreal
There was a time when I wouldn’t eat any pasta within a ten-mile radius. Pasta = carbs and that was one of the things I wasn’t “allowed” to eat…according to my own ridiculous standards. The plate of deliciousness that you see above is buffalo chicken parmesan from The Macaroni Grill and yes I ate every last bite of it (although I did eat it in two different meals…so. much. food)! However, buffalo chicken parmesan, especially in this quantity, is not a meal I would add to my regular rotation of lunches or dinners throughout the week. Two ways that I eat “pasta” without actually eating pasta are in the form of zoodles and spaghetti squash. For the record, I do not think carbs are the devil (your body needs them) and I do actually eat real pasta now. 🙂 I am just always trying to add vegetables to my meals because they are easy to skip (in my opinion), but they are nutrient dense and I need them!
Cook Time: 2 minutes (microwave)
Need: Zucchini, spiralizer, pasta toppings of your choice
First, we have zucchini noodles, or as you might see them called on Pinterest, “zoodles”. I buy zucchini every week at the grocery store to cook with or eat in some way, and yet this is the best picture I could find of my zoodles. Probably because every time I make them, they look pretty unappetizing even though they taste great. 🙂 Here, I just topped the zoodles with sauce of my choice, some mozzarella, and turkey meatballs.
To make zoodles, you need a spiralizer. This is the easy-peasy spiralizer that I own, and while there are much more complicated ones out there, for $14.99 this one does the trick just fine. You have the option of moving the white cap on the top to either end, depending on whether you want thick or think zoodles. With zucchini in one hand and spiralizer in the other, you just twist your zoodles into a bowl. I am lazy and make mine in the microwave (though the stove is always an option, too). Cover your zoodles with a paper towel to soak up moisture and you have the base of your meal ready to go in two minutes!
Cook Time: 10 minutes (microwave) OR 35 minutes (oven)
Need: Spaghetti squash, knife and fork, pasta toppings of your choice
This one is a little more complicated than zoodles. Spaghetti squash is pretty easy to find in the produce section of the grocery store. Once you find it, you will wonder how you ever missed it. 😉 If you are lucky, the produce sticker on your squash might also have directions on it! I have cooked spaghetti squash in the microwave and in the oven. One night I had more time (and patience) than I had on another night. Ha!
Don’t worry, you aren’t going to eat this part. 😉 No matter how you are cooking your squash, you must first use a fork to poke holes in the squash. I forgot this step when I cooked my squash this past weekend in the oven, and it took FOREVER to bake. Don’t omit this step! Once you have done that, then you can cut it in half.
Just like a pumpkin…you have to get all the strings and seeds out of the squash. Once you are left with two “bowls”, you can season it with whatever spices you have on hand. I used pepper and red pepper flakes.
When I took this picture, I was cooking this squash in the microwave for ten minutes.
Once your squash cooks, you will be able to get your “spaghetti”. I used a fork to pull it all to the middle.
I had a plate nearby for all the spaghetti…
…and when I was done getting all the “noodles”, this is what my squash looked like! There should be nothing left. 🙂
I added chicken and this delicious sauce from Trader Joe’s!
If your TJ’s hasn’t gone Christmas crazy on you yet, try to find this Autumnal Harvest pasta sauce before it’s gone for the season!
So the real question: do zoodles or spaghetti squash actually taste like REAL spaghetti noodles? Well…no. Carbs are magical and vegetables are vegetables. If you are expecting the flavor and consistency of pasta, you won’t find that with these two options. But of course, zoodles and spaghetti squash are flavorful and filling, so what more could you ask for? When you are searching for healthy alternatives, these are two great choices. Happy cooking!