Squash champion

Get your fill of the season's big winner: Spaghetti squash.

There may be a chill in the air and waning hours of sunshine, but that is hardly license to hibernate and indulge in “comfort” foods all day. And yet, it should be said that not all comfort foods are “bad” for you. Exhibit A: Spaghetti Squash.

You might be somewhat confused by the name of this fabulously delicious winter squash. Spaghetti? That’s right. When cooked properly, it actually resembles both the shape and consistency of pasta, and with your favorite sauce it can be eaten in lieu of the refined carbohydrate.

Similar to its winter squash counterparts, the rich color of spaghetti squash makes it a great source of antioxidants, including alpha and beta-carotene. Both nutrients turn into vitamin A, which helps to improve eyesight, especially in low light settings (nighttime readers, rejoice.) But the health benefits of this slimming squash don’t stop there. It's a good source of folate, which has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects, when eaten both prior to and during pregnancy. It's also high in soluble fiber, which helps us stay fuller for longer. So warm up with this spaghetti squash recipe for dinner — it's healthy comfort food at its finest.

Spaghetti and Spice Squash
Serves 4 people

1 spaghetti squash
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1½ c. chopped tomatoes
½ chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 c. spinach leaves
1 tbsp. rosemary
1 tbsp. thyme
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. You may choose to place the whole squash inside of the oven during the preheat phase for ease while cutting.
2. When temperature is reached, cut squash down the middle to produce two equal halves. Lightly grease baking sheet. Remove the seedy insides of both halves and place squash on baking sheet insides down, rind up. Bake for 35 minutes.
3. While squash is baking, add olive oil and chopped onion to pan. Sauté for approximately three minutes or until golden brown. Add minced garlic and spinach. Stir until soft. Add in the tomatoes and gently stir. Turn off stove once tomatoes are warm.
4. Remove squash from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash from top to bottom and allow spaghetti-like insides to fall into serving bowl. Add tomato, garlic, and onion mixture. Season with rosemary and thyme. Mix together, and add grated Parmesan. Serve warm.

Nationally recognized nutrition expert and author Keri Glassman (@KeriGlassman) is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City.