Healthy Pasta-Free Carbonara

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While on our honeymoon to Italy a few years ago my husband fell in love with spaghetti alla carbonara.  A delicious and surprisingly simple concoction of pancetta, eggs, black pepper, and parmesan cheese.  After making the champagne cupcakes the other day I had a lot of egg yolks sitting around and needed a plan to use them up.  I also had a half of a spaghetti squash that I couldn’t let go to waste.  To make it a little healthier and add some color, I threw in the spinach.  These proportions and directions are just what I came up with based on what I have after looking at a few basic recipes online.  It couldn’t have turned out better, truly amazing.  My only mistake was not making more than two servings.

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Ingredients:

1/2 large Spaghetti Squash, roasted
5 strips of thick cut Bacon, diced
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 handfuls of Baby Spinach
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp black pepper

Directions:

(I had a spaghetti squash that was already roasted, if you have to roast the squash still you need to do this first.  Half the squash and scrape out seeds.  Lightly spray with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Roast at 400 for 45-60 minutes.)

1. In a heavy skillet on medium heat cook the diced bacon.  I used an apple-wood smoked bacon, so flavorful!  When fully cooked turn heat to low and add the minced garlic, stir to avoid burning about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and toss in spinach until wilted.  Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

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2. Whisk together egg yolks, egg, parmesan cheese, and black pepper in a small bowl.

3. Here is where it gets a little tricky.  I warmed up the spaghetti squash in the skillet for a few minutes to get it really hot.  The heat from the “pasta” is going to thicken and cook the eggs.  When the squash is hot put it in the large mixing bowl with the bacon and spinach mixture then quickly toss/whisk together with the eggs until creamy.

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4. In my case the spaghetti squash was apparently not quite as warm as a freshly cooked pasta would be, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t serving raw eggs.  I warmed up the skillet on low heat and browned 1/2 Tbsp of butter, then added everything back into the warm skillet for just a few tosses.  Cook the eggs until creamy then remove from heat into mixing bowl.  You want to avoid scrambling the eggs, which is why you typically mix the eggs with everything in a bowl instead of in the skillet over heat.

This extra toss in brown butter not only enhanced the flavor and consistency of the dish, it made it safer to consume ;).  Top with a little parmesan cheese and black pepper before serving.

Enjoy and Eat Well!

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Coconut and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

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After Thanksgiving you are likely looking for something to eat that is healthy but perhaps with flavors that are out of the comfort food category.  This dish is full of vegetables and has a spicy flavor that is perfect for this time of year.  Serving on a bed of spaghetti squash cuts back on calories and sneaks in some extra fiber.  I made this dish with coconut milk to keep it dairy free and change the flavor profile even further out of the comfort food zone.  I used chicken, but this would be good with pork or even shrimp.

Ingredients: 

1 Onion, diced
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sriracha (or red pepper paste)
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
3 red peppers, roasted with skins removed
1 jalapeno, roasted
1 15oz can of coconut milk
1 tsp truvia or sugar

Directions:

1. Slice red peppers and jalapeno into flat pieces, spray with olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees.

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2. While the peppers are roasting heat grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or olive oil in large dutch oven, saute onions over medium heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add coriander and cayenne, simmer for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Stir in garlic and ginger, continue to heat for 5 minutes.

4. Add can of diced tomatoes including juices and mix well.

5. When the peppers are blackened, remove from oven and place in bowl covered with saran wrap.  Allow to sit in bowl for at least 5-10 minutes before removing skins (sitting in steam will allow skins to slide off easily).

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6. Roughly chop peppers and add to pan.  Add sriracha and truvia or sugar and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

7. While your sauce is simmering start to brown chicken (seasoned lightly with salt and pepper) in heavy skillet for 5 minutes on each side.

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8. Add coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes before pureeing.  I used an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one you will have to transfer to a regular blender to puree in batches.

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9. Nestle browned chicken into sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes to finish cooking.

10. Serve over rice or spaghetti squash as pictured above.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Turkey Bolognese

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My mission of reducing processed foods in our diet is reaching an all time high with spaghetti squash season.  This dish is easy, flavorful, and very healthy.  From what I have learned a bolognese is really just a meat based sauce, so you can substitute for any meat of choice if you don’t have ground turkey on hand.  This recipe started to develop for me after I read a recipe from Martha Stewart (we are totally friends 😉 ), then I added a few additions of my own…like more bacon…and wine…and mushrooms.  My husband really enjoyed this dish without me having to make regular pasta noodles, so I consider this a total success!

Ingredients:

-1 medium spaghetti squash
-1 pound of lean ground turkey
-5 slices of bacon
-1 Tbsp garlic and chili pepper infused olive oil
-1 large onion, diced
-3 stalks of celery, diced
-1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (any mushrooms of choice)
-4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
-1 Tbsp fresh thyme
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp black pepper
-1/4 cup dry red wine
-1 15oz can of tomato sauce
-2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes

Directions:

1.  Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds, spray with olive oil and season with pepper.  Bake in oven at 375 for 45 minutes.  When it is fully cooked it is easily scraped out with a spoon to make spaghetti-like strands.

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2.  While squash is cooking, in a large heavy sauce pan cook bacon over medium heat until cooked through, remove from pot to use later.

3. Add 1 Tbsp of infused olive oil to pan with bacon grease along with onions, celery, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and black pepper, cook for 10-15 minutes until soft.

4. Remove onion and mushroom mixture and put in bowl for later use.

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5. Brown turkey in pot, breaking to crumble.  When fully cooked drain grease and add onion and mushroom mixture and crumbled bacon back to pot.  Add red wine and simmer for 5 minutes before stirring in tomatoes and tomato sauce.

6.  Let simmer for 30 minutes to develop flavor.

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7. Serve over spaghetti squash, add parmesan cheese if desired.