Vegan/Vegetarian Pulled ‘Pork’ (Spaghetti Squash)

We had some remaining spaghetti squash from this year’s growing season, (it’s December, and they keep really well!) and had just had the classic spaghetti-squash-with-spaghetti-sauce iteration recently, so we wanted something different (and simple!)

I stumbled across the original recipe idea: http://greatist.com/eat/recipes/barbecue-spaghetti-squash-pulled-pork-tacos, but wanted something even simpler than that.  A crock pot beckoned.

 

 

Ingredients:

1 or 2 spaghetti squash (depending on size, may need more if smaller squash)

Coconut Oil

Cumin

 

BBQ Sauce (I used a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s: http://www.sweetbabyrays.com/ but use whichever you like, or make your own)

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Cut squash length-wise and remove seeds. Remove the stem end. (You can make and snack on roasted squash* seeds** while you are waiting for this to cook!)   Put aluminum foil in a baking pan large enough for squash (use a pan with sides). Rub coconut oil on cut sides and in center of squash halves.   Sprinkle cumin over all and put cut side facing down, onto aluminum foil. Bake halves at 350 for at least 45 minutes, until squash is tender- check with a fork. (It should string out like spaghetti from shell.) More baking time may be needed; it will depend on the size of the squash.

 

Put 2 cups of water in crock pot. Mince onions and garlic and add to crock pot. Add half of squash to crock pot and top with BBQ sauce. Add remaining squash and top with more BBQ sauce. Follow crock pot directions (can be on low or high setting).   Stir halfway through cooking time.   Add more BBQ sauce to taste. Let cook with crock pot cover off for a little if mixture is too watery. Serve on rolls/buns.

recipe in crock pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crock-potting it up!

 

 

 

recipe plated with rolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-crock.

 

Feedback:  The cumin gave the squash a nice deep flavor, and the BBQ simmered down to be very rich and robust. We would definitely make this again.  We froze some for later use.

Some family members said they liked this better than actual pulled pork because it was not fatty.

The squash (not altogether unexpected) was maybe lighter than my hardwired-for-pulled-pork brain was expecting.  Next time, I may add a few lentils to cook in the crock pot with the mix to add a little more heartiness to the dish/make it more toothsome.  I’d have to watch the liquid levels, though, just so nothing dries out.

*                                                                   *                                                            *

 

*Yes, these squash seeds will work too- move over, pumpkin!

**Additional recipe for roasted squash seeds: Check out the link, or use my way- cover a pan with parchment paper- no butter/oil needed.  Add squash seeds (no need to rinse, though you may want to pick out any random squash strands).  Shake your favorite seasoning over seeds.  Salt, if desired, or a no-salt seasoning works just fine too.  Stir and season again.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Add more seasoning if desired.  Bake another 10 minutes or until seeds have completely dried (the seasoning will dry/adhere to the seeds).  Enjoy!

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Recipe Rehab

We might have lost some Saturday morning cartoons, but one show not to miss on Saturday mornings is Recipe Rehab on CBS.  Above is the promotional clip from today’s Chicken Pot Pie episode.  The basic synopsis revolves around transforming an enjoyed but unhealthy family recipe (high amounts of fat, salt, using prepackaged goods, preservatives, and/or lack of fresh vegetables, etc.)  The half hour show pits two chefs against each other in a friendly, yet competitive game to create an improved version of the dish utilizing the essence of the original.  The new meals are prepared by the family, and rated in several categories like ease of preparation and taste.  A nutritionist also provides one of the scores.  Often, the chefs will re-imagine the presentation of the dish along with finding ways to impart flavor through additional ingredients, spices, and fresh vegetables.  If the show is not on your station, or you can’t otherwise watch, episodes and recipes are available online.  It’s difficult to not get hungry much too early in the morning, even after breakfast!  I’d highly recommend checking it out as a way to think about eating healthy.  Whether you are cooking for yourself or for your family, it exhibits some excellent ideas about swapping ingredients for the better and encouraging all members of the family to participate in meal making and cooking.

Meal Planning… (or the Sustainable Not-A-Diet)

planning

 

 

 

 

 

 

UW Health had recently posted an article on meal planning which got me thinking about the benefits behind our own meal planning.  My wife and I had made the decision to focus more on meal planning (which subsequently led to us eating increasingly healthier) sometime less than a year ago.  How noticeable has the change been?

We’ve noticed several benefits- not the least of which is some weight loss (my usually accumulated semi-substantial winter pounds have vanished this long winter).  Granted, we had been eating somewhat healthier/with more vegetables for a long while before this.   Occasionally, our pre-meal-planning conversations would go something like this around dinnertime, though…

Me: “What are you hungry for?”

Her: “I don’t know.  You?”

Me: “I could go for anything.”

(Cue trip to selected nearby fast food restaurant.)   And… scene.

Now repeat this on a somewhat-weekly basis, and we’ve added weekly fast food runs to our meal planning.  The aforementioned UW Health article refers unspecifically to a survey about increased fast food consumption.  While we weren’t at the 5 meals threshold they reference, the fast food adds up (but that’s not to imply that I have completely sworn off fast food, though…)

We have found that we don’t need to plan beyond the upcoming week, but planning, cooking a meal, and eating associated leftovers has helped our budget also.  We are not paying extra (with calories or $) for convenience and are still saving time.  Freezable foods are simple to store in our chest freezer for later, as well.  Give it a try- what do you have to lose?

 

A pantry staples reference/recommendation to get you started: http://www.uwhealth.org/files/uwhealth/docs/pdf4/GRFW_Prepare_Pantry_flier.pdf