If you have been looking for a low-calorie pasta replacement that contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, winter squash delivers this and more. Coincidentally, this seasonal vegetable goes by the name “spaghetti squash” and belongs to the same family as pumpkin, acorn squash, cucumber, and zucchini.
One hundred grams of spaghetti squash contains just 31 calories and is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. This vegetable is one food item recommended by many dieticians for both cholesterol-controlling and weight-reduction programs.
The strands of spaghetti squash have been said to bind to cancer-causing toxins and chemicals in the colon, thereby potentially helping to protect from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancers, and diverticulitis. It also helps reduce fat absorption and blood LDL-cholesterol levels.
Spaghetti squash provides antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and carotenes in small amounts. Vitamin A is a powerful natural antioxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucous membranes. It’s also an essential vitamin for healthy eyesight. Research suggests natural foods rich in vitamin A may help the body protect against lung and oral cavity cancers.
The squash also boasts higher amounts of the B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and it’s also a modest source of minerals like zinc, copper, calcium, and phosphorus.
I often see folks eyeballing the spaghetti squash in the grocery store, only to end up walking away empty handed, as they are unsure how to open them, let alone cook them. While some folks would argue that roasting or baking are the best ways, I beg to differ. In just seven minutes, you can cook a spaghetti squash to perfection, with the flash falling out of its skin with little to no effort.
Enter the Instant Pot®.
Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash Recipe (step-by-step)
Begin with a healthy spaghetti squash. Size doesn’t matter.
Step 1: Cut said spaghetti squash open. Some believe it is easier to cut through the middle, whereas others are convinced cutting lengthwise is better. I am of the camp that however you can slice this is the winner. You may want to do some of Coach Stef’s Upper Arm Exercises to warm up for this task, though.
Step 2: Scoop out the seeds, and voila! It’s ready to cook. Add about 1 cup of water to the bottom of your Instant Pot and insert the trivet. Add both halves of your spaghetti squash inside.
Chef Note: Don’t toss out those seeds! Spaghetti squash seeds are a great source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, protein, minerals, and health-benefiting vitamins. You can roast them or toast them much like pumpkin seeds.
Step 3: Set the timer to seven minutes on the pressure-cook setting, close the lid—making sure to lock the valve on top—then let the magic begin.
Once the Instant Pot has beeped, signaling the time is up, release the pressure valve and carefully remove the spaghetti squash. Disclaimer: I would recommend using heat-proof gloves or tongs as the vegetable will be very hot.
This is what your spaghetti squash will look like.
Step 4: For some, it will literally be falling out of the skin, and you can easily pull it apart with your fork or even your fingers. For the remaining flesh, you can scrape from the skin with a fork.
Step 5: Top with your favorite marinara or even butter or a sprinkle of cheese would work. You can change up the flavor profile in an instant with various toppings (think Mexican vibe with salsa and black beans or Thai with sriracha and peanut butter).
I hope this step-by-step tutorial was helpful and allows you to try cooking your own spaghetti squash in a quarter of the usual time. It is a nice change from pasta and zucchini noodles if those have been your traditional go-to’s. Who knows, maybe spaghetti squash will become the hot new superfood!