A New Spin On A Family Dinner Favorite By Nancy Childers

One of my favorite childhood memories are family dinners. Both of my parents worked, so dinnertime was truly a team effort. My younger brother and I would pitch in to help my mom cook and set the table, and when my dad got home from work, we would all sit down together and enjoy good food, rich conversation, and plenty of laughter. One of our favorite go-to recipes was spaghetti; because it was so easy and very kid-friendly. I was much more motivated to help in the kitchen when I knew spaghetti was on the way!

If spaghetti is one of your kidsâ€TM favorites, consider putting a new spin on it by trying spaghetti squash instead of traditional noodles. This can be a great way to introduce a new vegetable in a way that is familiar and positive.

The highlighted recipe features a type of winter squash called spaghetti squash. A single cup of spaghetti squash contains only about 40 calories compared to 220 calories for regular spaghetti noodles. Spaghetti squash also provides more calcium, potassium and vitamin B6 than spaghetti noodles. This added boost of nutrition targets our muscles, bones, and brain cells.

Spaghetti squash is fun to cook with too! Once it comes out of the oven, the kids will love scraping out the “veggie style noodles” for their spaghetti. They can also help prepare the sauce and set the table. But, even when dinner is ready and the table is set, family time is still only beginning!

Food is a powerful thing. Good food – food that is both healthy and delicious – is the perfect invitation to the dinner table. Family dinnertime, just like cooking, is also the perfect opportunity to learn together about seasonal produce (like squash), cooking techniques, and nutritional benefits of various foods and recipes – and itâ€TMs also a great time to grow closer through shared experiences and get involved in each othersâ€TM lives. So grab the kids, preheat the oven, and get ready to bake up a delicious meal! Great food – and great conversation – await you at your kitchen table!

Nancy Childers is a 2015-2016 Dietetic Intern at the Dietetic Internship Program at Vanderbilt. She is originally from Knoxville, TN, where she received her bachelorâ€TMs degree in Nutrition at the University of Tennessee. She then relocated to Nashville and received her masterâ€TMs degree in Exercise & Nutrition Science at Lipscomb University. She is passionate about her friends and family, Tennessee football, and helping individuals work through roadblocks to find health through nutrition and exercise.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Basil Sauce Serves 6


1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash 
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes  1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided  6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds; discard. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until tender.
  3. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in 1/3 cup basil.
  4. Cool squash at room temperature for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands to measure about 5 cups. Divide squash evenly among 6 plates; top each serving with about 1/3 cup sauce and 1 tablespoon cheese. Top with remaining basil.

Adapted from:
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spaghetti-squash-tomato-basil http://janetishungry.blogspot.com/2007/07/spaghetti-squash-with-tomato-sauce.html

Per Serving Nutrient Analysis
Calories: 98 calories
Sodium: 256 milligrams
Fat: 5 grams
Protein: 3.5 grams
Fiber: 4.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 13 grams