Check out the guest blog I did for the University Health Network earlier today:
Here’s a tasty, and not to mention healthy, twist on a classic Italian dish! If you’re in the mood for pasta but want to aviod eating something starchy, you can try opting for spaghetti squash instead. This lighter, low-calorie substitute amounts to approximately 42 calories per cup and contains several essential nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and B6.
Of course, spaghetti is not spaghetti unless it’s served with meatballs! Being a vegetarian, I decided to try making meat-free meatballs for the first time. I found a simple recipe online and made a few small modifications of my own. I have to admit I was a bit worried that the meatballs wouldn’t stick together well and would just end up crumbling, but this recipe worked out fantastically! The meatballs were firm on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. The added pinch of red pepper flakes gave them a bit of a kick as well.
With a few minor modifications, this recipe can also be vegan-friendly. Regardless of your dietary preferences, this dish is sure to please your palate :) Enjoy!
Spaghetti Squash & Spicy Black Bean “Meat”balls
Makes about 12 “meat”balls (each roughly the size of a golfball). Serves 2-4.
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half length-wise, seeds scooped out
1 can no-salt added black beans
1 egg (vegan substitute: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (vegan substitute: try this vegan-friendly worchestershire sauce recipe)
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese (vegan substitute: nutritional yeast)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion power
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1.5 cups of your favourite low-sodium pasta sauce
1. Place the squash, cut side down, in a large pot filled with a couple of inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Allow the squash some time to cool, then scrape a fork across the flesh to separate the strands. Season with a bit of pepper, sea salt, or herbs such as basil and oregano.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Pour the beans into a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until almost smooth. Mix in the egg, breadcrumbs, worchestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, and seasonings with a fork.
4. Use a tablespoon measure or spoon to form meatball-sized portions, using your hands to roll them into ball shapes.
5. Arrange on the baking sheet, spray with a bit more cooking spray (this will help them develop a bit of a crisp on the outside), and bake for about 20 minutes.
6. Divide the spaghetti squash into bowls. Combine the “meat”balls and pasta sauce in a sauce pan and gently stir until heated through. Divide the warm “meat”balls and sauce over the spaghetti squash. Garnish with some parmesan cheese or freshly chopped basil. Dig in!