What’s for Dinner: Spicy Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squash plate

I love experimenting with new recipes and I especially love when it involves new foods I’m not used to cooking with (as opposed to sugar, butter, chocolate and vanilla!).  This recipe is sure to impress the taste buds!

I was looking for something healthy with a lot spice that looked, well, fun.  I think I found a winner when I came across Spaghetti Squash on Pinterest from Whole Foods.  I’ve changed up the recipe a little for my liking and you can do the same.  I didn’t add any meat to this but I bet grilled chicken strips on the top would make it even better!  Or maybe a grilled shrimp skewer!

What you will need: 1 small/medium spaghetti squash, olive oil, 1/2 cup onion, 1 small jalapeno chili (told you I wanted spicy!), 1/2 cup red pepper, 1 can black beans, 1 can sweet corn, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/3 cup cilantro, 1 tbsp lime juice and 1 tsp sea salt.

spaghetti squash cooking

Cook the spaghetti squash:  There are many ways to cook a spaghetti squash, but I found the easiest is the microwave.  Cut the squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Cutting it was tough though – notice my uneven cutting job.  Then put open side down in a microwave safe bowl filled with 1/2 cup water.  Cover with plastic wrap and cook for 10 minutes.  Cook both halves.

spaghetti squash

Once cooled, use a fork to scrape out the flesh from the squash into noodle-like pieces (hence name “spaghetti” squash). 🙂

spaghetti squash fillingCook the filling: Chop up the onion and red pepper and mince the chili.  Saute all 3 in the oil for about 5 minutes until onions are tender.

Drain and rinse beans and corn.  Add both with chili powder (optional) and heat thoroughly.

Finally, add the squash noodles, cilantro (finely chopped), lime juice and salt and mix for about 1 minute.

Fill the halves of the shells with the mixture.

This is a low fat, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian dish!  Even though all that good stuff is omitted, the spaghetti squash tastes amazing and is very spicy.  If you don’t like spice, don’t add the chili powder or jalapeno chili.  To me, spaghetti squash doesn’t taste like anything when plain but it ends up tasting like whatever you cook it with.  It really added great texture to the veggie mix.  The lime juice also adds a hint of cool, sweetness that combines great with the spice!

spaghetti squash zucchini chipsContinuing with my healthy vegan dinner, I wanted to try Zucchini Chips.  I have recently discovered that I really like zucchini.  Zucchini boats are one of my favorites.   Let’s also not forget the chocolate zucchini cupcakes!  MMMM!

So for the Zucchini Chips, I took a fairly straight, level zucchini, washed it and cut into very, very small slices.  The slices should be less than a quarter in thickness.

Next lay on a single layer on parchment paper and spray with olive oil cooking spray.  Then season with your favorite seasoning.  I used sea salt and creole because I wanted a spicy chip flavor.  Don’t over do the seasoning because the chips will shrink.

Bake at 225 degrees for 45 minutes.  Rotate and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes until crispy.  I know this is a long time but make these first, then the spaghetti squash.

Next time, I will experiment with a higher temperature and less time because there were soo  good I kept taking samples to “test the done-ness.”  They definitely taste better when they were crispy!

Do you have any other favorite zucchini recipes worth sharing?

Bon Appetite!

Antioxidant Cupcakes

Blueberry Spice Cupcakes display

Blueberries rank among one of the highest sources of antioxidants of all fruits, veggies, spices and seasonings.  As one of my favorite fruits, I decided to try a Blueberry Spice Cupcake recipe from WeightWatchers. 1 cupcake has 5 PointsPlus and is very yummy, frosting not needed!  I had leftover buttermilk from the red velvet cupcakes and instead of letting it go bad, I put it to great use!  How resourceful, I know!

I actually had all the ingredients except blueberries so after a little R&R at the pool, I stopped into Publix and picked up frozen blueberries.  Two things about frozen: First, studies have shown that frozen raw fruits and veggies don’t lose any nutrients as the fresh stuff.  Secondly, frozen blueberries are so much easier to work with that fresh ones.  I wanted to make sure my cupcakes had whole berries in them, and frozen was the only way to go.  Instead of looking like blueberry cupcakes, the cupcakes would have just looked blue.  I’m not a graceful baker.  Actually, I can make the argument that I’m not a graceful anything.  So naturally, the frozen ones were perfect for me!

Blueberry Spice Cupcakes wheat flourAnother interesting ingredient the recipe called for was whole wheat flour.  I don’t usually use whole wheat flour in baking (not sure why) but I had this on hand.  This flour got me in the mood for homemade pizza!  I haven’t made homemade pizza in a while and it’s one of my favorite things to make so I’ll have to put this on the dinner menu soon!  Thank you Italians!

If you’re looking for a sweet treat, a yummy breakfast side or just a semi-healthy (it’s all relative!) dessert, this one is for you!

Blueberry Spice CupcakesWhisk the following dry ingredients in a large bowl: 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup fat free buttermilk, 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup canola oil and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Combine the wet and dry mixtures until just combined.  Add 2 cups frozen blueberries and fold into mixture.

Line 24 regular cupcake tins and spray with cooking spray.  Fill tins to a little more than 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Blueberry Spice Cupcakes rawBlueberry Spice Cupcakes done

I’m always up for trying healthier options to desserts (note: I say healthier not necessarily healthy…).  WeightWatchers has great recipes with good serving sizes and the recipes I’ve tried have been yummy!   1 cup is 5 PointsPlus for these blueberry spice antioxidant cupcakes. 🙂

Other WeightWatchers recipes I’ve made are the Cappuccino Cupcakes and Zucchini Cupcakes, Brownie Bites and Carrot Spice Cake.  ALL have  proven to exceed my expectations!

Have you tried any healthier option desserts that were delicious?!

Bon Appetite!

Zucchini + Chocolate go together like PB + J

zucc cocoHave you ever put zucchini, or any veggie for that matter, in a dessert? Well after making these chocolate-zucchini cupcakes, I’m convinced that if you add anything to chocolate, it’s bound to taste good!!

Another WeightWatchers recipe success! I’m a huge fan of portion control. I’m a fan but I might not be a committed follower when it comes to portion controlling desserts which is why I LUV CUPCAKES. Have you ever eaten another piece of cake to “take the last cut piece” or “fit it in the container” or “even it out”? Well.I.am.Guilty. Being an accountant, things need to equal, to balance, so it’s only natural for me to want the cake to be cut straight or evened out, right? This is why I love cupcakes. You really can’t make excuses to having to eat more since they are already portioned out! 🙂

So here’s my attempt success with chocolate-zucchini cupcakes, a 4 PointsPlus value per cup. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes/servings.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat four
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb zucchini finely shredded (2.5 cups)
1 tbsp confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper and lightly coat with cooking spray. Whisk together flours, sugars, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture and stir until just combined.

zucc coco4Shred zucchini. I used a cheese grater then cut it up even further (seriously, I was skeptical about this). Stir zucchini into chocolate mixture until just combined. Fill cupcake tins to a little over 3/4 full (they won’t rise that much) and evenly to fill all 24 cups.

zucc coco3

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until center comes out clean. Tops will look moist.

Sprinkle with confectioners sugar to follow the official recipe or add fat free cool whip or whipped cream and grated chocolate for decor.

I tested these out with some friends from church and they are approved!!

Again, I must say I was a huge skeptic on WeightWatchers recipes. They look good, sound good, but do they really taste good and are they filling and satisfying? Well after a few recipes (check on this one on brownie cups, and this one on cappuccino angel food cupcakes), I’m surprised and happy to say yes, they are filling and satisfying!! And WeightWatchers lifestyle approved!!

zucc coco5

Bon appetite!