The Foodie Physician

Physician, Recipe Developer, Chef & Board Certified Foodie

Recipe Resuscitation: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

This nutritious twist on lasagna uses spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  Spaghetti squash has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is loaded with nutrients.  Packed with protein and fiber, this dish will keep you feeling full and satisfied!

I’m excited to announce that I recently became a member of a wonderful community of bloggers called The Recipe Redux.  Started by three registered dieticians, The Recipe Redux was founded on the belief that healthier eating should always taste delicious.  It’s right up my alley!  I’m so happy to be a part of this unique and talented group. 

For this month’s challenge, The Recipe Redux asked us to share a healthier “redo” of one of our favorite food memories.  It’s the perfect challenge for this time of year with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  For many of us, some of our most treasured memories revolve around sharing festive holiday meals with family and friends. 

When I was growing up, my family would always go to our friends’ home for the holidays.  My “aunt” would cook up a classic Italian feast with platters of antipasti, seafood, meat, pasta and plenty of decadent desserts.  My sister and I always most looked forward to one particular dish- the lasagna!  It was a seemingly mile-high tower of noodles layered with tons of gooey cheese, meat and homemade tomato sauce.

It’s hard to mess with a classic but I set out to make a lighter, vegetarian version of the dish to enjoy this holiday season.  My Spaghetti Squash Lasagna uses nutritious spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  Spaghetti squash has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and when it’s cooked, the flesh falls away like ribbons or strands of spaghetti.  It’s lower in calories and carbs than traditional pasta and is packed with nutrients like fiber and Vitamin C.

I mix the squash with creamy ricotta cheese and nutrient-packed spinach.  It’s then layered with tomato sauce, reduced fat mozzarella and parmesan cheese and baked in the oven until it’s bubbling with cheesy goodness.  So if you're looking for healthy, vegetarian addition to your holiday table, go ahead and try this dish.  

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Makes 8 servings
1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 ½ pounds)
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided use
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
1 container (15 ounces) part skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
6 ounces (1 ½ cups) reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 425°F.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Brush the flesh with 1 teaspoon oil.  Place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast in the oven until tender, about 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  When the squash is cooled, scrape the flesh with a fork so that it forms spaghetti-like strands.  You should have a total of about 6 cups total.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook 4-5 minutes until partially softened.  Stir in the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes until thickened.   

Mix the ricotta, egg, spinach, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl.  Squeeze all of the liquid from the spaghetti squash and add it to the bowl (the squash releases a lot of water as it cooks so make sure to squeeze it well).  Stir to combine all of the ingredients.     

Turn the heat on the oven down to 375°F.  To assemble the lasagna, spread about 1 ½ cups of the sauce on the bottom of an 8x11-inch baking dish.  Add the squash mixture on top and spread it out evenly.  Spread the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the squash and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and Parmigiano cheese on top.  

Bake in the oven 35-40 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.  Garnish with parsley.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  

One serving: Calories 244; Fat 11g (Sat 6.1g); Protein 16.8g; Carb 21g; Fiber 4.4g; Calcium 448mg; Iron: 2.8mg; Sodium 872mg; Folate 71mg

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite food memories, so leave a comment below and let me know.

Check out how my fellow Recipe Reduxers "redid" some of their favorite food memories!

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup 2014

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I'm sure many of you are in menu planning mode.  I know I am!  As one of the biggest, if not the absolute biggest food holiday, Thanksgiving gets its fair share of attention from the food blogging community.  It seems like social media has been taken over  with holiday inspired recipes, and I've been seeing so many incredible dishes on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.  So I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.  The 20 recipes below include some appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts.  Many of them are healthy and some are a bit more indulgent.  Enjoy and happy cooking!

Dining with the Doc: Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are definitely a polarizing food- people either love ‘em or hate ‘em.  Personally, they weren’t my favorite vegetable growing up.  This is probably because my mom never cooked them at home so my only experience was at restaurants where they were usually boiled to death and served with absolutely no seasoning.  But, in recent years, the humble Brussels sprout has definitely had a huge growth in popularity.  You can find them on any restaurant menu from casual to gourmet.  Shaved, deep-fried, roasted, braised and of course everyone’s favorite- cooked with bacon.  There’s something about the salty, smoky flavor of bacon that pairs really well with the slight bitterness of the sprouts.     

Dining with the Doc: Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This recipe was inspired by my mom and is one of the recipes included in my upcoming book, The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook, which will be released in 2015 (so stay tuned!).  Having grown up in a vegetarian household, my mom has always made the most delicious, vegetarian Indian dishes.  This is definitely one of those dishes that I turn to when I want something comforting that will deliver a taste of home.  

Dining with the Doc: Spinach, Mushroom and Gruyere Strata

My Spinach, Mushroom & Gruyere Strata is a perfect dish for Sunday brunch.  A strata is a layered casserole made with cubed bread, eggs, cheese and other ingredients like vegetables or meat.  It’s similar to a savory bread pudding and it’s definitely a comfort food.  The beauty of making a strata is that you can toss in whatever ingredients you have on hand and you can prepare it all the night before.  In the morning, simply bake it and serve it straight out of the oven while it’s hot and puffed up. 

Dining with the Doc: Cold Sesame Noodles

Peanut butter, sesame oil and soy sauce come together with ginger and garlic in this addictive noodle dish.  A staple on Chinese-American restaurant menus, Cold Sesame Noodles are easy to make at home.  This dish requires minimal cooking time and makes a great appetizer or side dish.  Add some steamed broccoli or grilled chicken and it becomes a substantial main course.  Although they have the word "cold" in their name, the noodles can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.

Dining with the Doc: Tuscan Kale and Apple Salad

Welcome the arrival of fall with my Tuscan Kale and Apple Salad.  This dish uses Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato or dinosaur kale) but if you can’t find it, you can use curly kale.  The kale is paired with apples, which are in season this time of year, as well as dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and almonds.  The salad is topped off with shaved Piave, which is an Italian cheese that adds a nice salty bite. 

Dining with the Doc: Blackberry Chia Jam

Making homemade jam has never been easier!  Before the summer officially ends, why not preserve the sweet flavor of your favorite berries by making a batch of jam?  Homemade jam typically requires a lot of time and equipment.  In order to get it to thicken properly, you usually have to use a thickening agent like pectin along with a significant amount of sugar.  My quick and easy Blackberry Chia Jam will take you only about 15 minutes to make and it uses the natural gelling properties of chia seeds.

Dining with the Doc: Lemon Raspberry Buttermilk Popsicles

Here in south Florida, popsicles are a year round treat. But for a lot of you popsicle season will be ending soon.  So before the cool weather arrives,  make a batch of these Lemon Raspberry Buttermilk Popsicles and celebrate the remaining days of summer in style!

Dining with the Doc: Super Fast Peach Frozen Yogurt

A couple of weeks ago I posted a One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream recipe- a quick and easy ice cream recipe using only fresh bananas.  Since then I’ve been on a quest for more healthy dessert recipes.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to find easy, guilt-free dessert recipes that also taste great.  That’s why I’m really excited about my Super Fast Peach Frozen Yogurt.  This delicious treat simply involves putting frozen peaches, Greek yogurt, honey and a bit of lemon juice into a food processor and blending until smooth and creamy.  You only need five minutes and the end result is a creamy, luscious treat that the whole family will love.  It’s hard to believe it’s so easy to prepare- no ice cream maker needed. 



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