Veggie of the Month: Spaghetti Squash

It’s Time to Start Thinking About Spaghetti Squash

The name Spaghetti Squash, or as we prefer to call it “Squaghetti”, derives its name from the uniquely textured flesh. Spaghetti squash is a yellow, mildly flavored winter squash, with a fun oblong shape. After cooking and running a folk through it, its flesh separates into a bevy of spaghetti-like strands. It is the ideal substitute for pasta, offering a low-carb, vitamin rich alternative to bleached noodles or high-gluten flour.  Squash in general is very healthy for you; chock full of vitamin A, potassium, and heart-healthy omega 3’s, winter squash should be a welcomed guest at your dining table this season.

 

Feeling Ambitious?  Try Growing Your Own!

Starting from Seed

Spaghetti squash need a long growing season (~100 days), and warm sunny days and that includes warmth at planting time. We recommend waiting at least a week after the last frost occurs.

Growing Instructions

Keep your plants watered, and weed-free while the leaves are developing. Once the wide leaves are fully developed, they will start to shade their surrounding soil and keep the weeds out.

After the peak of the summer, you should remove any new blossoms (check out our favorite recipe here, courtesy of dolly and oatmeal) that your squash vines produce. There won’t be enough time left for them to mature and the plant’s resources would be better used growing the already-developing squash on the vine.

Due to the long growing time for squash, they can be prone to rot or decay as they rest on the ground.  This is easily remedied with a small lid or plate to rest the squash on.

Harvest

Spaghetti squash are quite large, each individual squash can grow to be around 4 pounds at peak. Each plant will produce between 4-6 squash…unfortunately they can’t be harvested small/early like zucchini or summer squash. They don’t develop that way. Spaghetti squash (all winter squash actually) need to fully mature before harvesting.

A tried and true method to tell if your squash is ready is to push your fingernail into the outside skin. The skin should be tough enough to withstand your nail. If it punctures, your squash need more time. Depending on your climate, another sign is that you should harvest your squash when the vines start to wither.

Health Benefits

  • Other than the above nutrients of spaghetti squash, it also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart diseases, inflammation occasioned by arthritis and different types of cancers, omega-6 fatty acids are ideal for promoting proper brain function. Omega – 6 has a variety of minerals and vitamins, which are essential for proper functioning of your body.
  • Some of the recent conducted health studies have proven that spaghetti squash helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer
  • Spaghetti squash is rich in beta carotene, which is essential in preventing atherosclerosis. It also has numerous health benefits especially for people with insulin deficiency.
  • The fact that spaghetti squash has a lot of potassium makes it the ideal diet for people with blood pressure. It can amazingly lower high blood pressure if consumed over time. The folate contained in the spaghetti squash helps in strengthening the walls of blood vessels besides enhancing blood circulation.
  • Pregnant women are encouraged to consume spaghetti squash more frequently since the folate contained in it helps in preventing birth defects which can occur when a woman is delivering the baby.

Article written by Matthew Lorton, Food Forward Volunteer and Avid Food & Beverage Writer

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