I recently read a wonderful blog post by Dr. Mark Hyman MD. about the danger of condemning fat and consuming sugar in its place. Sure, we all need a piece of cake now and again, or an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. I think it is important to indulge your sweet tooth, as long as your overall diet is relatively healthy. However, it is alarming the amount of sugar we consume; sometimes without even knowing it.
This month even the WHO suggested that the 2002 recommendation of sugar making up only 10% of total calories per day be halved to 5% (article here). Why I am I so alarmed? According to stats Canada in 2004:
“… Canadians consumed 110.0 grams of sugar a day, the equivalent of 26 teaspoons. This amounted to 21.4% of their total daily calorie intake… Overall, more than a third (35%) of the sugar that Canadians consumed came from the “other” foods category” (Stats Canada)
If we consider the proposed 5% guideline, this means on average Canadians are consuming 15% more sugar than is considered ‘healthy.’ Furthermore, we are continuing to discover that sugar calories are linked to the development of various health problems. Mark Hyman cites a recent study that demonstrates that while an overall increase in calories does not increase risk of type II diabetes, an increase in calories from SUGAR, dramatically increases risk. His point? Not all calories are created equal! I encourage you to read his post here, “Eggs Don’t Cause Heart Attacks … Sugar Does.”
So what does all of this have to do with a recipe you ask? When we think about sugar consumption we often think about those treat foods I mentioned above. But where else does sugar come from? Ofcourse you get it in small amounts from fruits + veggies, but come on, those are also packed full of goodness! The guideline is more about added sugars. And they are hiding in a variety of sneaky places, including: pre-made tomato sauce, most breakfast cereals are ridiculously HIGH in sugar (not the best way to start your day), salad dressings, condiments and PASTA (even whole wheat). And those are only a few examples! The problem guys, is that even when we feel like we’re cooking a ‘healthy’ meal of spaghetti, often its just a massive sugar load! So I have created an alternative that is actually super delicious (it’s even hubby approved) and allows you to be creative too! Ok, so this is not 100% sugar free, there will be naturally occurring sugars in your ingredients but it is dramatically better than white pasta with store-bought sauce! 🙂
I really enjoy the creativity of cooking, so for this recipe I only bought 2 things at the grocery store (squash + fresh basil) and just used up things I already had in the fridge for the rest. As always, I encourage you to experiment with ingredients if you give this recipe a try!
Ingredients (serves ~4)
2 Spaghetti Squash
1 package Fresh Basil (roughly chopped)
3 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 Spanish Onion (minced)
1 28oz can Diced Tomatoes (I like PC blue label – no preservatives)
1 small can Tomato Paste
2 tsp Dried Oregano
A few handfuls Spinach
Some pre-cooked Chicken or Beef (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375C.
2. Cut the stem end off the squash. Now cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Make sure its nice and clean! Drizzle with olive oil (be generous). Bake face up for 40-50 minutes.
3. while your squash are in the oven throw your sauce together. It will only take about 15 minutes.
4. Add olive oil (I just pour it in, you’ll need about 2 tbsp+), minced onion, mushrooms and asparagus to your saucepan and cook over med-high heat for about 5-6 minutes.
4. Add your minced garlic and cook another 4-5 minutes. Do you best not to brown your garlic (adjust heat as needed).
5. Add your diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and basil. Bring to a simmer and add your spinach and pre-cooked chicken/beef (I just used some baked chicken breast from the night before).
6. Keep your sauce on very low heat until your squash is ready.
7. When your squash is ready, allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes. Now the fun part. Simply take a fork and run it over the squash, it will simply come out in strings! Tip: go with the grain of the squash.
8. Add your sauce and enjoy!
If you’re vegetarian make sure you pair this with some protein (add beans to your sauce maybe!). This recipe freezes well too, so I froze my left overs for lunches. Happy Friday + happy sugar-free cooking. Xo