Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Okay, so one of the most beautiful things about making spaghetti for dinner is that it's easy, most everyone likes it, you normally have the ingredients on hand. And trust me, there are plenty of nights around here that if things go awry because of our hectic schedule, I need to open a jar of sauce and a box of noodles. But spaghetti can be a little healthier and way more nutritious with just a little extra planning and it hardly takes any extra time or effort at all. You can throw together your own sauce and replace the noodles with spaghetti squash and get a whole lot of vitamins and minerals that you typically wouldn't get by using store-bought spaghetti.
Spaghetti is and always has been one of my favorite meals. But, as I am always looking for ways to get more nutrients out of my meals, I've made a few adjustments. Let me encourage you all....this is not hard, but it will require a little thinking ahead. Meal planning, if you will, to ensure that you have the ingredients on hand.
So, where do you start? Well, that depends. You may want to start with your sauce if you have extra time to allow it to simmer. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes. But, if you are throwing this together with little time to spare (which is generally how it works in my home), I start by throwing the spaghetti squash in the oven to roast.
While it's quite likely that there's more than one way to cook a spaghetti squash, I always roast mine in the oven. I only use my microwave if I'm desperate as I believe it zaps a lot of the nutrients out of our food. So, how is this done?
Many people will advise you to cut it in half prior to baking. I've tried this. It seemed borderline dangerous (maybe I'm a wimp), so I just don't. I stick the entire thing in the oven, whole!
Though spaghetti squash is a winter squash, I generally can find it most months out of the year in the store. I simply buy it and store it out of sunlight and on my countertop until I'm ready to use it (it will generally keep about a month). Okay, let's get on with it. What are the directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Use a fork or sharp knife to make holes in the squash. Once the oven is preheated, place the squash on a baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes (check occasionally for tenderness by puncturing with a kitchen tool. Time will vary depending on the size of your squash. It is done when it is tender.
2. Once tender, remove from the oven. I let it rest about 5 minutes, then I take a very sharp knife and cut both ends off. I then cut it in half and let it rest a few more minutes to cool.
3. Using a spoon, scrape out all of the seeds. I then prefer to use a fork to scrape out the flesh. And there you have it.......noodles!
In comparison to one cup of regular noodles which contains about 220 calories, 42 grams of carbs and almost no vitamins or minerals. Spaghetti squash provides only 42 calories, 10 grams of carbs, and lots of good vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, and B-6, to name a few!
It's all about the sauce
Okay, let's talk about the most important part. The sauce.
With store bought spaghetti sauce, I always had a complaint. It was too sour, too sweet, not enough garlic, etc. So, I've worked to make one that my family eat without it being, "too lumpy, too sweet, too sour" and on and on. Nothing frustrates me more than when I make dinner and everyone has a complaint. Are you with me? Sends me straight into a mom fury.
So, not only does making your own sauce allow you to craft one that is right for your family, it just makes spaghetti feel a little more loved when you make the sauce yourself (though there's no guilt in store bought). That said, there really isn't a lot of time put in this one (10 minutes, plus time to simmer) and it's just easy. You can change it in any way you like. It's really just a matter of having the ingredients on hand. I almost always have these in our home. Adjust it to your liking. Here is one that works for us:
Serves 8-10 ( I always make more than we need for leftovers, etc)
- 2 lbs ground beef
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Medium-Large Yellow Onion (chopped)
- 3 Garlic Cloves (peeled and minced)
- 2 (29 oz) cans of tomato sauce (homemade or store bought--organic if possible)
- 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
- 1.5 T Worcestershire
- 1.5 T Pure Cane Sugar
- Brown ground beef with garlic, onion, salt, pepper
- Add Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste
- Add Italian Seasoning, Worcestershire, Pure Cane Sugar
- Adjust seasonings to your liking (feel free to add garlic powder if you want more garlic, maybe crushed red pepper)
- Allow to simmer at least 10 minutes, the longer the better
Add this to your spaghetti squash, any pastas, or omit the ground beef and just use as a marinara sauce for Chicken parmesan, meatballs, or even as a pizza sauce.
There's no shame in keeping jars of sauce and boxes of spaghetti on hand at home for insane nights, but with just a little planning and few extra minutes (and I mean minimal), you can whip up a spaghetti dinner with lots more nutrition and one that your family will love! (Oh....and if they turn their nose up at the squash, then I always give the option of regular noodles)
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