Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall Vegetables and Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti and Sweet Potato Fries

Having food allergies restrict what you can eat, so let’s refill our diets with new foods we may have not tried before. Fall is filled with lots of great alternatives including:
Bok ChoyBroccoli RabeBrussel Sprouts
Celery RootGarlicJerusalem Artichokes
Snow PeasSpinachWinter Squash
Sweet PotatoesSwiss ChardWatercress

I chose three fall vegetables to look at a little further, winter squash (including acorn, spaghetti and butternut squash), sweet potatoes and parsnips.


Winter squash, including spaghetti, acorn and butternut squash, is an excellent source of vitamin A & C, potassium and fiber, and a good source of folate and thiamin. When looking for a good squash, the skin should be thick and hard without any marks and heavy for its size. A great thing about squash is that you can store it for a month or more in a cool, dry place. Squash gets a bad wrap at being hard to cook, but really it is quite easy.

Cooking Squash:

Roasting – a sweet and a savory method for you to try…

Halve, remove seeds, put small puncture marks on the outside skin and poke a fork into the inside meat and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast in 400ºF for 30-45 minutes until the flesh is tender. Great alone or added to soups and risotto. Kids never know the difference when we use spaghetti squash as spaghetti try my recipe below.
Halve, remove seeds, put put small puncture marks on the outside skin and poke a fork into the inside meat and sprinkle with canola oil and lightly press brown sugar onto inside of squash and all along the rim, place down on pan and turn slightly to form a seal. Roast in 400ºF for 45 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Sprinkle with more brown sugar to taste and mash together.

Boiling – Peel and cut into bite-sized chunks and cook for 7-9 minutes in boiling water. Wonderful when added to stews, doesn’t work as well with spaghetti squash.

Microwave – Depending on the squash: Approximately 5-6 minutes per pound for spaghetti squash, 8-10 minutes for acorn squash and 5-10 minutes for butternut squash depending on size. Make sure to puncture skin 4-5 times before putting in microwave.

Spaghetti-like strands emerge when you use your
fork to scrape the inside of the spaghetti squash.

You can also save the seeds - a great treat for the kids:
Pre-heat oven to 300ºF.
Clean and soak seeds in salt water solution for 1 hour.
Sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt and bake for 1 hour.


Not only do sweet potatoes possess a sweet flavor, but they're also one of the most nutritious vegetables out there. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and a good source of vitamin B-6, fiber, copper and potassium. When looking for the best sweet potatoes, find firm, medium-sized potatoes with tapered ends. Avoid ones with blemishes, sprouts or any sign of decay. Sweet potatoes will keep for several weeks when stored outside the refrigerator in a cool, dark and dry place (try a brown paper bag). Scrub well before using.

Cooking Sweet Potatoes:

Roasting – Put in oven unpeeled at 350ºF for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Things to try with sweet potatoes: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary or brown sugar. For another way to roast sweet potatoes see my recipe below for sweet potato fries! My sister Claire shared it with me - it is a family favorite!
Boiling – Peel sweet potatoes, cut in half, place in a pot with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on size; drain and mash.


Parsnips are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate. The best parsnips are well-shaped and small with firm roots. Large, older parsnips require more peeling and have a woody core. If refrigerated, parsnips will keep for a week or more.

Cooking Parsnip:

Add to stews - Cut parsnips into cubes and use them in soups or stews. If you look at my beef stew recipe in the blog titled “Avoid Dinner Dread” you will see parsnip used, it adds a nice sweet taste to the recipe.
Roasting - Parsnip is great roasted with a variety of other fall vegetables. Roast for 20-40 minutes (depending on the size) at 375ºF.
Boiled – Boil for 10-20 minutes and then chill to enhance flavor. Mash and mix with mashed potatoes for a sweeter, richer taste.
The recipes for this post are using two of the three vegetables we talked about, Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti and Sweet Potato Fries, I make the fries just to snack on, it is a great treat filled with nutrients, enjoy!

On to the food!

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

1 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup onion, diced
¼ cup orange juice
1 bay leaf
¼ cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces tomato paste
14 ounces diced tomatoes

Brown ground beef and onion in stock pot over medium high heat, season with Kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Drain meat if necessary.
Once meat browned, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add tomato paste, water and diced tomatoes.
Continue cooking on low covered for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

See above for directions for cooking spaghetti squash.

Sweet Potato Fries

4 sweet potatoes, skinned and cut into small strips
1 onion, sliced into small strips
2 sprigs rosemary, removed from stem and minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
Place sweet potato, onion and rosemary in a ziplock bag and add extra-virgin olive oil to cover.
Mix ingredients in bag until fully coated.
Spread ingredients in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes. Do not pour oil from bag onto baking sheet, only use oil to coat.
Turn fries after 15 minutes and check every few minutes after first 30 minutes.
These fries won’t be crispy, but gooey and ever so tasty! Enjoy!

Next blog: Lisa Shops Allergen Free at the Gluten Free Store


Anonymous said...

I grew up eating Acron squash, but as an adult, haven't been able to find a decent recipe. Yours provided some sweetness, but it wasn't over powering.. I could still actually taste the squash! Thanks for all these wonderful recipes!!


Love this post. Sometimes I get in a cooking rut with veggies. Thanks for the lesson on how to cook out of the ordinary veggie.

Columbus, MS.

Nicole (Nico's Eats) said...

Excellent blog! I have a friend who can't eat gluten, and she just had a baby so I want to make her family a meal. Glad I found you!