“Spaghetti” Squash with Healthy Meat Sauce is a great alternative to high-calorie, high-carb traditional spaghetti and meatballs. Roasted squash coated with a light layer of olive oil and Italian Seasoning is topped with a simple homemade Italian meat sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and parsley to create this simple family dinner.
FACT: I LOVE creative healthy food trades. You know, cauliflower instead of rice type stuff.
FACT: My family isn’t always appreciative of my “creative culinary skills” when it comes to dinner time.
Sooo.. when I find a HEALTHY recipe, ( you know.. the kind that are made with vegetables and stuff) and they eat it (even if under duress)… well, I count it as a victory.
Getting a toddler to eat vegetables is no joke, friend.
So with that said.. I kinda have a thing going with spaghetti squash. How can you not love a vegetable that tastes like pasta?
With only 42 calories and 10 carbs in a 1-cup serving of cooked spaghetti squash, this vegetable is definitely “resolution friendly”. The texture is tender, the flavor is subtle… and most importantly, it looks like spaghetti (crucial when attempting to “trick” a 2 year old into eating spoonfuls of veggies).
“Spaghetti” squash with meat sauce is the perfect weeknight meal when you want something healthy and not too heavy. The homemade turkey meat sauce gives “staying power” and both the sauce and the squash are loaded with protein.
Pasta like Veggie + Homemade Turkey Marinara Sauce = Match (it’s science).
This recipe is simple, requiring only 1 pot (you can eat right out of the squash.. how cool do we feel about that?). Note: When attempting to make a healthy food swap in a clandestine manner.. don’t serve your kids “spaghetti” inside of a squash… they WILL get suspicious.
The marinara is full of flavor and EVERYTHING good (lean turkey, fire roasted diced tomatoes, garlic, onions, and fresh herbs). I could eat it on the daily, and probably will be since I made 4 versions before declaring it perfect. Hazard of the job. I’m not mad…
Full disclosure… prior to making this recipe I placed a spaghetti squash into my shopping cart, wild visions of healthy food swap domination running rampant. The spaghetti squash rotted in my pantry (and that takes a long time?). Twice. Slicing the thing up, cleaning it out, and googling how to go about preparing it just seemed like a lot of work.
Don’t be intimidated… it’s SO easy. Use a sharp knife to slice the squash in half. Remove the seeds/strings with a spoon (channel your inner pumpkin carving skills), spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roast at 400 until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove squash from the oven and scrap the edges gently with a fork.. that’s it.. “spaghetti.”
Time Saving Tips and Tricks:
Prep: The marinara sauce can be prepped ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Make Ahead: You can assemble the entire recipe ahead of time. I like to make 6 servings (3 spaghetti squash) at at time. Follow complete recipe instructions and then place squash in a shallow baking dish and cover with foil or plastic wrap. They are the perfect healthy grab n’ go lunch. When you are ready to eat, simply warm in the oven or microwave.
Freezer: The homemade turkey marinara is definitely freezer friendly. I like to make a double batch and use half for the spaghetti squash and store the other half in an airtight ziplock bag for a night when I need a quick healthy dinner.
- 2 small spaghetti squash, sliced in half lengthwise
- olive oil
- garlic salt
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 lb. ground turkey thigh
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen brand)
- 6 TBS tomato paste
- 1½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp thyme
- 1 squirt of honey
- ¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)
- grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- SPAGHETTI SQUASH: Heat oven to 400. Remove seeds/strings from squash using a spoon. Lightly rub the inside of the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roast for 40 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove squash from oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Use a fork to gently scrape the sides and bottom of the squash to create "spaghetti."
- HEALTHY MEAT SAUCE: Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and allow to cook 1 minute. Add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Add ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until turkey is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add basil, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and thyme. Bring mixture to a boil, and then lower heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Add honey to taste (I used about ½ TBS). Stir to combine. Season as needed.
- ASSEMBLY: Top spaghetti squash with ¼ of the meat sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley (optional). Serve and enjoy.
- Don’t buy HUGE spaghetti squash.. they take FOREVER to cook.
- If you aren’t into dark meat you can definitely sub ground turkey breast for the suggested turkey thigh.
- Don’t have time to make homemade meat sauce? Don’t let that stop you from trying out spaghetti squash. Brown some turkey, onions and garlic and mix in a jar of store bought marinara. Make sure to check the ingredients and make sure there isn’t anything funny. Marinara should be made of tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, etc. RAO’s makes a delicious sauce that is made from real food ingredients.
- Make sure to add the squirt of honey.. the sweetness counteracts the bitterness of the diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
As always, if you are interested in learning more about meal prepping, follow Simply Sissom on Instagram for #MealPrepMonday. 9 recipes prepped in 90 minutes.. recipes included! Below is an image of Monday’s Instagram feed. The green smoothie packs are already almost gone!
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