What's Happenin'

A Sidelines blog

Good Food Hunting: Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce

November 07, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

Spaghetti squash with a fresh tomato sauce is an ideal healthy meal or side dish that tastes super delicious too!

Spaghetti squash with a fresh tomato sauce is an ideal healthy meal or side dish that tastes super delicious too!

A recipe that packs a flavorful punch and is low in calories and carbs is pretty hard to come by. But finding a recipe that also meets a meat and potatoes man’s seal of approval is almost impossible. Never fear however, because I’m sharing with you my man’s most requested dish that is good for you AND gluten free, vegan and sugar free.

Pasta is one of the most versatile foods. It can be adapted in so many ways which is exactly why spaghetti squash fits the bill for being an ideal meal option for those looking to make a healthy change. It’s great because once you get the basis of spaghetti squash down, it can be one of the best substitutes in your pantry, and it stores for awhile without needing refrigeration.

Spaghetti Squash, showing the whole, roasted and shredded squash.

Spaghetti Squash, showing the whole, roasted and shredded squash.

The recipe really couldn’t be easier in that it uses fresh ingredients, or easy to locate items even during the winter for year round enjoyment. The squash is baked and cooled, and then a fresh sauce is made. I find that the sauce can be doctored up in a number of ways. I typically add a small amount of sugar to help balance out the tomatoes acidity and give them a more rounded flavor. This of course is not necessary, and you will need to taste test along the way as you make your sauce to be sure it fits what your own taste buds enjoy.

A bite of the finished Spaghetti Squash, ready to eat.

A bite of the finished Spaghetti Squash, ready to eat.

For those with dietary restrictions however, please heed the following advice to alter this basic recipe and still make it taste super:

  • Low glycemic– omit the sugar called for in the recipe
  • Vegan– substitute the sugar and use something like agave syrup, omit the parmesan or use Parma
  • Paleo– substitute the olive oil for coconut oil
  • Lactose free– omit the parmesan
  • No Iodine– substitute the type of salt used and omit the parmesan
  • Gluten lovers– try the spaghetti squash, or if you must, omit it and use pasta
  • Gluten free– This recipe is perfect for you!
  • Vegetarian– This recipe is perfect too!

To full plates and eating your tarte out,

Spaghetti Squash with a sprinkling of basil and parmesan (optional).

Spaghetti Squash with a sprinkling of basil and parmesan (optional).

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce

1 spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs)
3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sprig rosemary, fresh
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 can of whole tomatoes (18 ounces), preferably San Marzano or 1 lb of tomatoes, skins removed
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1/4 cup fresh Basil, sliced
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice your spaghetti squash from end to end horizontally using a sharp knife. Scoop out the pulp and seeds, rinse under cold water. Pat dry.  Place your two halves of spaghetti squash onto a baking sheet. Drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil onto each half and coat the top using a pastry brush or clean paper towel. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes until fork punctures easily through the flesh. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once the spaghetti squash is cool, use a fork and pull down the length of the squash to remove strands. Remove until just the skins are left. Repeat with other half, placing the strands into a bowl for serving.

In a saucepan over medium heat, place the remaining olive oil. Sauté your onions and garlic for about 3-5 minutes or translucent. Over the saucepan, run your fingers down the rosemary sprig removing the leaves into your pan. Sauté one minute longer. Next, add your red pepper flakes and tomatoes along with their juices. Using a wooden spoon, break up your tomatoes into large hunks and bring to a simmer (if using fresh tomatoes simmer for about ten additional minutes). Add in your sugar and vinegar. Stir and taste the sauce, adding more sugar and vinegar as needed to balance out the flavors. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, heat till boiling.

Ladle your finished sauce on top of the spaghetti squash strands. Sprinkle with your parmesan and basil. Serve immediately.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

September 19, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

Roasted red pepper hummus is vibrant and full of flavor.

Roasted red pepper hummus is vibrant and full of flavor.

Hummus is one of the great many time savers in an equestrians life. It works as satiating snack item to help you avoid that ravenous feeding frenzy of processed foods and carbs that you struggle to deal with later on after consumption. Packed with tons of nutrients and not a lot of junk, it can be your new best friend for many a weeknight meals.

Roasted red pepper hummus enjoyed with vegetables.

Roasted red pepper hummus enjoyed with vegetables.

In my recipe below I recommend using dried beans as the base for the hummus. This process isn’t really a shortcut in time saving techniques, but in a lot of ways the recipe is low maintenance and allows you to shower and take care of other errands as the beans work themselves out. I actually learned that this overnight soaking helps to release excess gases in the beans. I know you all can put it together, but it’s something worth mentioning! As far as the cooking liquid called for in the recipe, this starchy broth helps bind the hummus together and gives you a nice creamy base. But if you’re pressed for time, two cans of garbanzo beans will do the trick (drained of course).

Roasted red pepper hummus plated and ready for enjoyment at your next social gathering.

Roasted red pepper hummus plated and ready for enjoyment at your next social gathering.

While I recommend roasted red peppers in this recipe, you can feel free to add your own take on it such as sun dried tomatoes (reconstituted), roasted garlic, pesto, or chipotle peppers. You could even enjoy it plain. I find the real magic happens after it’s made Of course it’s a great dip for vegetables and crackers. As a second meal, it’s a great binder and moisturizer for a vegetable wrap. Once it starts to dry out a bit, that’s when you coat chicken breasts in it and bake it. The chicken always turns out super flavorful and moist with a great crust. Basically enjoy using it up until it’s gone!

Hummus enjoyed on a flatbread piled on with a mountain of fresh veggies.

Hummus enjoyed on a flatbread piled on with a mountain of fresh veggies.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 cup dried garbanzo beans

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 roasted red peppers

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small lemon, squeezed for juice

2 tablespoons of tahini, optional

Salt and Pepper

 

Let beans sit overnight in about six cups of water.

Drain and rinse beans. Place Beans and six cups of cold water into a large saucepan with the lid slightly cracked. Cook on medium heat for about one hour or until the Beans lose their mealiness when tasted. Remove from heat. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the beans.

In a food processor or blender, place the beans, garlic, peppers, lemon and tahini in. Pulse until the ingredients are incorporated. Slowly add in the olive oil while the food processor is running. Once fully incorporated, test consistency. Depending on individual preferences, you’ll need to add small amounts of your cooking liquid until you get your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for about one hour before serving. Can be made ahead of time and stored in refridgerator before using.

Serve with carrots, radishes, celery, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli or any other desired vegetables.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Strawberry Cream Shake

August 22, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

The strawberry and cream shake gets a boost from freeze dried berries since frozen fruits aren't always ideal in terms of taste.

The strawberry and cream shake gets a boost from freeze dried berries since frozen fruits aren’t always ideal in terms of taste.

Summer is coming to an end, and with it the winding down of show season. Slowly we start getting depressed because daylight is shorter and our access to fresh ice cream and riding time is becoming limited. That ice cream bit may just be me however.
Ice cream or sweets splurges are something most of us can relate to in some way (for those dairy intolerant stick with me). We’re emotional over something- our horse decided to pull a stunt that left him lame before finals, your significant other threw their red shirt in with all of your riding clothes including the new breeches you bought, or you’re just sick and tired of it all. We’ve all been there and had some version of that ‘kind of day,’ where a pint of ice cream or visit to your secret stash is the first line of defense towards mending emotional breakdowns.
Ice cream, the universal cure for emotional upsets.

Ice cream, the universal cure for emotional upsets.

I hate to burst your bubble and possibly throw your emotional state right off the cliff, but have you happened to look at the nutritional label for ice cream lately? Holy Butterfinger! It’s absolutely and utterly heartbreaking to know that you can no longer eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting if you want to maintain weight (good thing you’re not a jockey). But it’s also scary not knowing what half of the ingredients are in it too.
Healthy alternatives usually mean no flavor and the inability to satiate even the barn dog. Luckily for you I stumbled upon an amazing fix for ice cream lovers without the huge guilt to rack up with it. The recipe started off as a shake to substitute for my morning meal which I do on days when I work out. It’s a good way to get nutrients, but not feel weighted down or starved. Normally I’ll throw yogurt, flax seeds, a banana, some type of frozen or fresh fruit and a splash of fruit juice in the blender. These are good, but due to the way our food system works, the frozen or fresh fruit (especially those which are out of season) doesn’t taste like a whole lot. While this shake can get me through my morning, there isn’t enough sweetness or taste there for me to feel like I’m getting satisfied as if I were to have one later in the day when I’m craving ice cream or a cookie. This is exactly how the recipe hunt got started, take the components of a shake but amp it up to feel like I’m getting a sweet treat but without all the calories and heaviness.

It’s a simple fact of compensating for what is lacking in the base recipe. In terms of the lame fruit with no flavor or taste, I added freeze dried fruit in addition to the frozen fruit. This not only enhances the color (we eat with our eyes), but also added the flavor of the berry back into the mix. For the subtle sweetness I was missing, I added in sugar and some vanilla- these are two ingredients in ice cream so it was a natural step. As far as the creaminess, I tried experimenting with a number of “creams.” Cream is in ice cream, but if it was unhealthiness we were trying to cut down on, then this wouldn’t suffice. I did try a vegan version and non-fat in terms of skim milk, the results were lack luster for me. I finally settled on organic whole milk which had a ton of flavor, vitamins and had just the right amount of creaminess. From all that, a recipe was born.

It’s a simple recipe, but I urge everyone to try various versions based on their own preferences. I insisted on the use of sugar because this shake became a healthier alternative to my plate of brownies in an emotional frenzy, and it satisfied my own sweet tooth. Omit the sugar or try honey or agave syrup. You can consider using different combinations of frozen fruit- perhaps peaches and raspberries, and then mix up the freeze dried fruit for whatever you can find. For those whose taste buds reflect a need for lightness, by all means- use skim milk or almond milk! Perhaps those vegans out there can help recommend an Almond Milk or other “milk” in which is creamier than what I chose to help make this more palatable for the masses. Be warned, the salt in this recipe is not one I would omit as it enhances the flavor of the recipe exponentially. But even if you stick to this very basic recipe, it’s satisfyingly delicious in times of weakness!

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

Strawberry and Cream shake mimics a milkshake without tons of extra calories and a bright burst of berry flavor.

Strawberry and Cream shake mimics a milkshake without tons of extra calories and a bright burst of berry flavor.

Strawberry Cream Shake

1 cup of frozen strawberries
1/2 cup of freeze dried strawberries
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of sugar (optional)

In a blender, combine all the ingredients. Blend till smooth, adding more milk until desired consistency is achieved. Serve with a straw and fresh strawberry- or drink straight from the blender!

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.