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Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you need to forgo some of your favorite comfort foods, like a delicious pasta dish. It’s all about finding ways to swap out ingredients that may be high in calories or offer little nutritional value for healthier ones, especially when it means incorporating more vegetables into your diet. (Did you know less than 14 percent of Americans report eating the recommended daily serving of vegetables each day?)
This “spaghetti” and meatballs recipe is a great example. Lower in calories and carbohydrates than wheat-based noodles, spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta. Once cooked, it’s easy to shred its flesh into spaghetti-like ribbons with a fork. Its mild flavor also adapts well to flavorful sauces like this tomato one. The homemade meatballs also get a more nutritious makeover by using lean ground turkey (combined with ground round for flavor) and chopped spinach.
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Yield: 6 servings
1 large spaghetti squash
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound ground round
1 slice whole-wheat bread, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, excess moisture squeezed out
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
Preheat oven to 375°. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 30 to 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, use a large spoon or fork to scrape the strands from the skin. Set strands aside and discard the skin.
While the squash is baking, prepare the meatballs and sauce. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and add the bread. Add turkey, beef, cheese, onion, spinach, salt, pepper and ground fennel. Stir to combine. Form mixture into similar sized meatballs (2-inch sized makes about 24 total). Heat oil in a large sauce pot. Carefully add meatballs and turn to brown evenly. Cook in batches if needed. Remove the meatballs from the pot.
In the same pot, sauté garlic over medium heat until fragrant. Add tomato paste and sauté additional 3 to 5 minutes. Add in crushed tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and add the meatballs back in. Simmer sauce with meatballs until they are cooked through, about 15-30 minutes depending upon their size. Serve over spaghetti squash.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: 375 Calories; 12 grams Fat; 2.5 grams Saturated Fat; 73 mg Cholesterol; 536 mg Sodium; 29 grams Carbohydrates; 3 grams Sugar; 2 grams Fiber; 41 grams Protein
Julie Fromm, R.D., is a community dietitian with Henry Ford Health System’s Generation With Promise program, which focuses on empowering youth and families in the community to increase their consumption of healthy foods and physical activity and balance caloric intake.
Check out more healthy recipe videos and nutrition tips at henryfordlivewell.com.
This story is provided and presented by our sponsor Henry Ford Health System.
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