Saturday, December 28, 2013

Two Things that Changed My Life in 2013

In January 2013, I stumbled upon two things that changed my life for the better.

Fitbit Oct 9

The first one is my Fitbit. I got my Fitbit on January 7, and it has made a definite impact on how much I move. There is really no way of knowing how many more steps I walk each day because of my Fitbit since I know that I have been moving more from the minute I got it! My estimate is that I walk at least 3000 to 4000 more steps (1.5 - 2 miles) each day (if I’m right, that’s 1,095,000 to 1,460,000 more steps per year, or between about 547 and 730 miles!).

Because of my Fitbit, I’ve become really good at “sneaking in” steps. Since getting my Fitbit, I walk more at work, go for longer daily walks, and walk more with the kid and Andy (who both have their own Fitbits).

I learned to add in steps whenever I can, even if it’s just walking around for 5 to 10 minutes every hour while I’m grading big stacks of papers. It all adds up! And seeing the numbers right there on my Fitbit really motivates me.

Also in January 2013, I came across the Conscious Cleanse, and it has also changed my life for the better as it helped me determine my sensitivity to gluten and eggs. Gone are daily stomach discomfort and pain. I have also lost some weight and started numerous healthy habits because of the Conscious Cleanse (warm lemon water, green smoothies, lots of veggies, mindfulness, and much, much more).

If you want to try the Conscious Cleanse for yourself, the next cleanse starts on January 11, 2014. It’s a great way to start the year feeling your best and working on some lasting eating and living changes. Click here for more information and to register. 

Questions: What are some things that changed your life for the better in 2013? What changes do you want to make in 2014 to be healthier and/or happier? I will refocus my weight training routine and also start the day with a 5-minute meditation before my short morning workout.

Be well,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

All But Gluten

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Weston Bakeries who make All But Gluten products and asked if I’d like to try some of their products. Weston Bakeries is a Canadian company that will soon launch in the U.S.

I haven’t eaten gluten since I did the Conscious Cleanse in January. During the cleanse, I eliminated gluten and determined after reintroducing it that it caused severe stomach and other problems.

Since then, I simply cut gluten out of my diet but didn’t buy any gluten-free products. Lately, I experimented with nut flours and have been baking some grain-free and gluten-free breads and cookies. I’ll review some winners soon.

When I was contacted I decided it would be a good time to taste test some gluten-free products as it would be nice to have some convenient baked goods once in a while. Luckily, the All But Gluten products did not disappoint.

Here is what I was sent:

  • Sliced white loaf
  • Multi grain loaf
  • Cinnamon raisin loaf
  • Blueberry muffins
  • Coconut macaroons
  • Mini brownies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
Here is the overall winner: the coconut macaroons. We all very much enjoyed the taste and texture of these cookies. In fact, they were dangerously delicious and I had to make sure to stop at two!

I also very much enjoyed the mini brownies, but for the kid they were a bit too chocolaty. 

While the kid gave the chocolate chip cookies two thumbs up, I didn’t love the texture, but the flavor was good.

The kid loves blueberry muffins, and he and Andy fought over the last one!

While I normally wouldn’t eat white bread, the slice I had was delicious, and it’s a nice once-in-a-while special treat. Since we got a whole loaf, I froze most of the loaf for a later time.

The whole grain loaf was also delicious, and I really enjoyed the flax seeds and sunflower seeds in it.

Finally, the cinnamon raisin loaf was a nice, slightly sweet treat. I used some of it to make French toast, something I hadn’t had in over a year, and it was a nice special treat. 

Since doing the Conscious Cleanse, the majority of my diet is greens and unprocessed foods. The Conscious Cleanse has the 80/20 rule after the cleanse. That is, you should eat lots of greens and follow the Conscious Cleanse principles 80 percent of the time and eat other foods 20 percent of the time. That way, a healthy lifestyle is maintainable. The All But Gluten products are certainly a nice, convenient once-in-a-while treat, and I love that we can all enjoy them. 

Questions: What’s your favorite baked treat? Do you like bread? If so, what’s your favorite type? Do you follow an 80/20 or similar rule? 

Be Well,

[Disclaimer: I was sent the All But Gluten products for free but all opinions are my own. I was not compensated to write this review.]

Monday, December 16, 2013

CSA Box and Food Journaling

I’m really glad that I signed up for a CSA box again. Longtime readers will know that I used to get a CSA box for years but then stopped for a while due to some billing and other issues.

It’s always such a joy to open the box – it’s like receiving a present!

Here is what we got this week, and what I plan on doing with it:

  • Beets (gold & red) – I’ll roast them and add them to salads. The beet greens will go into beet greens smoothies. I love the 2 for 1 when you buy beets with the greens! Smile 
  • Romanesco cauliflower – I’ve never had this! And I would have probably not bought it, but I’m glad we’ll get to try it. Apparently, like broccoli and cauliflower, it can be eaten raw or cooked. I think I’ll steam it.
  • Fennel – Another item I wouldn’t have bought. I’ll roast it.
  • Carrotssnacks
  • Chardgreen smoothies
  • Spinach –  green smoothies – I love the variety of greens we’ll have in our smoothies this week!
  • Leekspotato/leek soup
  • Butternut squashroasted butternut squash soup
  • Fingerling sweet potatoes – I’ll roast them. Yes, I love roasted vegetables!

Food Journaling

The other day I was at Target with the kid, and I came across a pretty journal. I decided to pick it up as I had been thinking about food journaling again for a while. I think writing down everything I eat in a day is a good way to see if I truly eat as healthy as I think.

After journaling for a week, I noticed that I hadn’t had any fish! That’s something I’ll be working on for sure! Also, since it’s been unusually cold around here (for this area), we don’t have a green smoothie every morning. I need to be more conscious on those days to get enough greens the rest of the day since I’m not starting the day with a huge dose of greens.

I’m not too specific when it comes to writing down everything I eat. In other words, I don’t weigh or measure my food or calculate calories. I just write entries like “bowl of carrot soup” or “spinach with sautéed ground beef and mushrooms.” I’m at a happy weight at this point and what I’m eating is working, so there is no need to calculate calories, etc. However, several years ago, when I was losing weight, I kept a very precise food journal with calories, etc. I also used MyFitnessPal on my phone for a while, and it worked well.

Besides everything I eat, I also write down my daily steps as well as any other exercise I did. Finally, I finish with what I’m grateful for that day. That’s actually my favorite part of the journal. I always finish the day thinking about what I’m grateful for, but writing it actually down is very powerful.

Questions: Do you journal (any kind)? Do you have/ever had a food journal? Do you write down what you are grateful for on a regular basis? Are you a member of a CSA or have ever thought about joining one?

Be well,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Curried Carrot Soup: A Conscious Cleanse Recipe

I love making and eating big pots of soup. Fall and winter is perfect for soups, but, honestly, I make and eat soup year round.

One of our favorite soups lately is a curried carrot soup. It’s a Conscious Cleanse recipe, and Jo and Jules, the founders of the Conscious Cleanse, have given me permission to share their recipe with you. It’s super easy yet very flavorful.

Curried Carrot Soup
from The Conscious Cleanse book, p. 254

Yield: 8 bowls

  • 3 TB coconut oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 8 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 4 medium stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook coconut oil and curry powder, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in carrots, celery, and yellow onions; toss to coat, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.
  4. Allow to sit for 1 minute, and skim grease from top of soup.
  5. In a blender, working in batches of no more than 2 cups, puree soup.
  6. Return soup to the pot, and heat through.
  7. Season with lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper, and serve.
  8. Refrigerate leftover soup in a glass container for 3 days.

This soup is great over brown or black rice or quinoa. Thanks Jo & Jules for letting me share the recipe!

Conscious Cleanse Thoughts
Andy and I did the pre-holiday Conscious Cleanse in November, and I am very glad we did. Since doing my first Conscious Cleanse in January, I have been incorporating quite a few things from the Conscious Cleanse program into my daily life, such as:
  • starting the day with 32 ounces of warm lemon water
  • having a big, green smoothie most days for breakfast
  • eating lots of veggies (even more than before I did the cleanse)
  • being mindful of when, how much, and why I eat
Friends sometimes ask me why I’m doing yet another cleanse when I am already eating so healthy. I tell them that doing the official cleanse is always a great way to fine tune things a bit further and to eat as clean as possible for a few weeks and thereby giving my body a “break.” It’s also a great time to recognize that I don’t need quite as much sugar and salt (condiments!) as I can get used to at times…

It’s also a great time to make some “me time” as self-care is an important aspect of the cleanse. It’s really about so much more than just food.

I’m very thankful that I changed my eating in January because of the Conscious Cleanse. I have lost some weight and feel great. Most of all, I’m truly thankful that my painful stomach issues are gone because the cleanse helped me confirm my sensitivity to gluten and eggs.

The November cleanse was Andy’s second cleanse, and this time around he noticed how gluten affects him a bit more. We took pictures before the cleanse and after the cleanse, and he is clearly a lot more puffy looking before (and after he added gluten back into his diet). He also gets flushed and tired after he eats gluten. His symptoms aren’t bad enough for him to completely eliminate gluten, but it’s good information to know.

The next Conscious Cleanse starts on January 11, 2014. It’s a great way to start the year off right and work on some lasting eating and living changes and make 2014 a great year. Registration for the January cleanse opens on Friday, December 6, 2013. Use code EBCC114 for $25 off registration valid through Sunday, December 15th. Click here to register.

Questions: Do you like soups? If so, do you eat them more in fall and winter, or do you eat them year-round like me? What is one eating/drinking habit you’d like to “clean up?”

Be well,

Saturday, November 30, 2013

“Perfect Eating:” There is No Such Thing

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I have not always had the best relationship with food. In fact, during a particular difficult period of my life I used food to “deal” with stressful situations, and it got me in a whole lot of trouble as I gained quite a bit of weight.

Back then, I ate too much food (not necessarily unhealthy food) every single day and also used “special occasions” to justify eating extra food. There were way too many special occasions that I came up with…

To lose the weight, I managed to let go of “stress eating” (through some real soul searching and finding true stress relievers such as long walks and yoga), and I also no longer justified eating extra food because it was a special occasion. I made special occasions all about people instead of food.

For a while, everything was “perfect.” I ate very healthy foods in the right amounts for the right reasons (to nourish my body and because I was hungry.)

However, at one point “real life” happened, and I overate. Not a lot. But still. I overate. At first, I panicked. I was terrified of going back to my unhealthy relationship with food. One bad meal could be the beginning of the end in my mind. And, honestly, it could if I let it get out of hand.

But eating too much on one occasion can be easily dealt with. It happens once in a while. It’s normal. And it surely doesn’t have to lead to weight gain.

On Thanksgiving I ate too much for dinner. Not an outrageous amount of extra food, but I definitely felt too full. However, I had also planned for a bigger dinner, walked a lot, and made good choices the next day.

I started Thanksgiving like I start most days (ever since I did the Conscious Cleanse in January) with 32 ounces of warm lemon water and a big green smoothie. A little later I had some Greek yogurt. Lunch was on the go and consisted of carrot and cucumber sticks with cashew “cheese” (soaked cashews ground in my mini food processor with lemon juice, garlic, spices, and water). A couple hours later I had some grapes.

Dinner started with a creamy mushroom soup (delicious but certainly not low calorie and quite substantial), which was followed by a salad. Honestly, I probably could have stopped eating right then and there and would have been perfectly satisfied. Instead, I ate some turkey, mashed potatoes, yams with maple syrup and pecans, and green beans. I had seconds of the yams and green beans. At that point, I was definitely more than full. But there was dessert, and I had the inside of a slice of pumpkin pie as well as a small piece of marzipan. Plus, I had 1.5 glasses of sparkling wine.

We decided to go for an after dinner walk, bringing my step total to over 16,000 for the day. I definitely felt a lot better after the walk. The rest of the evening I made sure to drink a lot of water.

Since we were out of town, I couldn’t start Friday with my usual lemon water and green smoothie ritual. Well, maybe I could have, but I didn’t plan for it. Instead, I drank a lot of water. Then I ate a banana and a bit later some leftover turkey slices.

I also did a strength/core/yoga workout, consisting of pushups, squats, kicks, planks, and a yoga flow. Then we walked some more.

Lunch was at a restaurant, and I got a salad with thin steak slices and a portobello mushroom. I made sure to hydrate with lots of water.

In the afternoon, the older kid asked for some “iced coffee,” and I decided to make some blended mocha with ice, milk, instant decaf coffee, unsweetened cacao, and stevia. Naturally, I had a glass, too…

For an early dinner, I had cucumber slices with cashew “cheese.” The rest of the evening I had lots of warm water with ginger slices, a new favorite.

I wouldn’t call either of the two days “perfect,” but the overall food intake over the two days was okay I think. I definitely didn’t eat enough greens, and I’ll make sure to fill up on them in the next few days. I also didn’t gain any weight, despite some indulging.

I think the lesson I learned many years ago is that you don’t have to eat “perfectly” every single meal, but in the end things have to balance themselves out. In other words, you’ll have to compensate for splurges. But beating yourself up over splurges certainly doesn’t work. Instead, I try to plan for extra food and usually eat a bit “cleaner” for a couple days following the splurge to compensate for calories as well as nutrients the splurge may have lacked. Overall, I try to do nothing drastic but get back to pretty much my normal eating with doable modifications. I also make sure to truly listen to my body and look at my soul food, a concept I learned by doing the Conscious Cleanse.

Finally, here are some photos from our Thanksgiving weekend. If you follow my on Instagram, you may have already seen some of them. I’m very thankful that I got to spend Thanksgiving with all my boys.

Questions: What strategies do you use when you eat “extra food?” If you are in the U.S. or celebrated Thanksgiving elsewhere, what was your favorite part of Thanksgiving? What are your thankful for today?
Be well,

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Simple Foods and Arctic Zero

We’ve been eating a lot of simple foods lately. Ground, spiced turkey with veggies like asparagus or green beans. Or big salads with salmon or tuna on top. There have also been lots of soups.

I still prep a bunch of foods that are easily assembled into meals a few times a week. Here is a recent lunch: spaghetti squash, sautéed kale, sautéed mushrooms, and spicy black beans. Everything is in the fridge in glass containers, and it’s super easy to put it into small containers to take to work or on a plate to eat at home.

Simple Meals 01

Arctic Zero
Right after we had started the Conscious Cleanse, we got a big package of frozen desserts to try sent by Arctic Zero. Arctic Zero is made with whey protein and non-GMO ingredients and is gluten free and fat free. The products are sweetened with cane sugar and monk fruit concentrate. One pint of Arctic Zero has only 150 calories and the frozen dessert bars have only 85 calories each.

Hubby was very disappointed that he had to wait a few weeks  to try these desserts. Once the cleanse was over, we had fun taste testing all the different flavors: chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, coffee, cookies & cream, mint chocolate, strawberry, and, vanilla maple.

Of the pints, we liked cookies & cream and coffee the best as they tasted most natural, but our favorites were definitely the frozen dessert bars.

The frozen dessert bars come in packs of four, with two flavors each: one pack has 2 strawberry and 2 orange cream and the other has 2 chocolate and 2 vanilla. While the frozen dessert bars aren’t super creamy, they are a very nice, satisfying frozen treat with a thin chocolate cover. They are a great low calorie, cold and slightly chocolaty treat, and I’ll be looking for them at the store.

Questions: What simple foods have you been eating lately? What’s your favorite frozen dessert flavor?

Be well,

[Disclaimer: I received the frozen desserts for free from Arctic Zero. I was not paid to write this review, and all opinions are my own.]

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Creamy Potato Leek Soup and CSA Box

I love soup, and I make at least one big pot of soup every week. I like to eat the soup with a salad on the side or over some brown or black rice. A small cup of soup is also a great snack.

Creamy potato leek soup tastes decadent, but is a healthy dish that lets the veggies in it shine.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

  • 4 - 5 leeks, cleaned carefully (lots of dirt can collect in between the leaves) and then sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • About 5 small potatoes, sliced
  • 5 cups veggie broth (I used homemade veggie broth) – I like my soups thick, if you like your soup “soupier,” use more broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • Chives (optional)
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onions for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the leaks, potatoes, and garlic and mix everything and sauté for about 5 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Add the broth to the pot, cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 15 – 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft.
  5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender.
  6. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon, a dash of nutmeg and additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the soup and sprinkle with chives.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I used to get a CSA box for years. Then sometime last year, there were a few mix ups and issues involving my credit card, so when we went on a longer vacation, I canceled. But I always meant to sign up for a CSA again, and I had been looking into several options, but I never acted on anything.

So when my old CSA contacted me, it didn’t take much convincing to make me sign up again. And I’m glad I did because the box always makes me eat veggies and fruits I probably wouldn’t buy or eat at that moment.

To make a CSA work for you, it’s important to have a plan so that produce doesn’t get “lost” in the fridge. More than three years ago I wrote a post about how to make a CSA work for you.

Here is what was in this week’s box and what I did with it. I realize how very lucky we are in California that we have year-round CSAs and Farmers’ Markets.

  • apples – apple pear sauce
  • pears – apple pear sauce
  • mandarins – lunches
  • lettuce – big salad with cashew dressing on Friday for hubby and me; the lettuce was super fresh and delicious. In the past I learned that it’s best to use the lettuce right away.
  • broccoli – this will be one of the kid’s lunch and dinner veggies for the week. He loves raw broccoli.
  • bok choy – stir fry with onions and mushrooms
  • kale – I made kale chips, and they were gone soooo fast.
  • carrots – carrot sticks for lunches
  • potatoes – potato leek soup
  • leeks – potato leek soup
Questions: Do you like soup? If so, what’s your favorite soup? Links are welcome! What’s your favorite “rediscovered” veggie at the moment? I love leeks, but for some reason I haven’t bought them in a long time. I’m really glad that they showed up in our CSA box this week!

Be well,

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheap, Easy, & Tasty Veggie Broth

Several months ago, I started making veggie, veggie/chicken, or veggie/beef broth in my slow cooker. For the veggies, I use the peels and end pieces of organic produce that I use to make salads, stews, soups, etc. I freeze the peels and end pieces until I’m ready to make the broth. It feels good to not waste so much produce.

One large Ziploc bag fills up almost my entire slow cooker. To the veggies I add water, salt, pepper, and various herbs. This veggie bag contained celery, carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, and garlic.

I cook everything on low overnight or longer. Then I strain it, squeezing the liquid out of the veggies.

The result is a flavorful broth that I like to drink by itself and also use in other soups and stews. There are some veggie pieces and herbs floating on the top, which I don’t mind, but you could pass it through a cheese cloth to make it clearer.

Exercise Update

In the last few months, my main form of exercise has been long walks and hikes, yoga, some barre classes, and mainly body weight workouts. I notice that push ups are getting easier, and it’s time to increase the number I strive for doing a bit.

Questions: Do you make your own broth? I make veggie or veggie/bone broth almost every week. I’ll post a bone broth recipe soon. I really enjoy having my own broth. What’s your current exercise regimen? Is it time to adjust thing? 

Be well,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Conscious Cleanse Food and Portable Salads

Even though I have posted what I eat on the Conscious Cleanse before (Conscious Cleanse food and more Conscious Cleanse food), I have been getting questions on what I eat in a typical day, so I thought it would be fun to show you what I ate yesterday.

The day started with 32 ounces of warm lemon water. Since water is pretty boring to look at, there is no picture.

Then I had a green smoothie with lots and lots of greens. Yes, we are cheering with our smoothies! Smile

Green smoothie

I had a huge salad for an early lunch. I made the Garlic Caesar dressing from the The Conscious Cleanse book (p. 251). The base of the dressing are soaked cashews that are pureed in a food processor with garlic, lemon juice, dates, water, and spices. It’s very good.

When we have salads, I often prep them the night before by cutting everything up and putting it in a bag. That way it’s quick and easy to grab. This mix had romaine lettuce, a large grated carrot, sliced mushroom, cucumber slices, and sliced celery.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 002

I put some dressing in the bag and shook it to dress the salad.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 003

Not pretty, but it gets the job done.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 005

I often get to eat lunch at home since I do most of my grading and prep work from home. But you could take the bag and a small jar of dressing anywhere, and Andy (hubby) has taken it to work this way.

Here is my huge salad.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 008

In the early afternoon, I had some carrots and cucumbers with hummus.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 014

Around 4 p.m., I had an early dinner consisting of baked halibut and sautéed onions, mushrooms, and bok choy. I marinated the halibut in some sesame oil, ume plum vinegar, salt and pepper and then baked it at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 013

Conscious Cleanse Thoughts
Last Wednesday was the first transition day for the Conscious Cleanse. That meant that on Thursday, which happened to be Halloween, we couldn’t eat anything with added sugar. I think this made for a very rough start for Andy.

Instead of focusing on all the great veggies and new dishes he could eat, he focused only on what he couldn’t eat for a while there. I think he is slowly coming around though. He has also been having a hard time with drinking the 32 ounces of warm lemon water. Since we follow the lemon water with a big smoothie, I can understand that it’s a lot of liquid.

For me, it’s much easier to drink the 32 ounces of warm lemon water since I  drink it all the time. Also, I have gotten used to getting up very early so that there is some time between my lemon water and my smoothie. Between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. is my most productive time of the day.

I like that the cleanse has made me already more organized than I  normally am. Plus, I really like that I’m eating more veggies and paying a lot more attention to my water intake.

Questions: What beverage do you start your day with? What’s your favorite salad dressing? I like simple vinaigrettes, but the Conscious Cleanse Garlic Caesar dressing is becoming a new favorite.

Be well,

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I have been making various versions of a spaghetti squash bake for many years now. I often make it when we have guests, and everyone seems to like it, and many have asked me to share the recipe.

The other day I decided to add some ground beef to the casserole, and the boys liked this version even better. However, you could make this casserole without the beef and just add more mushrooms, and it would be delicious.

I like that this is a simple recipe with few ingredients. Also, you can assemble the casserole earlier in the day and put it in the fridge and bake it about an hour before you are ready to serve it. That’s one of the reasons I like to make this dish when we have guests. It allows me to clean up the kitchen after assembling it and then prepare other dishes. It makes entertaining stress-free.

You start by cooking the spaghetti squash. When I have a small spaghetti squash and not a lot of time, I usually cook it in the microwave for about 12 minutes. The key is to make numerous deep and long cuts with a sharp knife all over the squash, or it will explode. If I have more time, I usually cut it in half, remove the seeds, and put it cut side down in a baking dish with 1/2 inch water and bake it at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. 

While the squash is cooking, I sauté the onions, mushrooms and ground beef.

Then it’s just about assembling everything into a casserole dish.

Just a few simple ingredients…

After the spaghetti squash is cooked and the onions, mushrooms and the beef are sautéed, it’s time to assemble the casserole. I used a 10.5 x7 and a 7 x 5 casserole dish.

Start with a layer of tomato sauce.

Next comes a layer of spaghetti squash. 

Season the spaghetti squash with salt and pepper. 

Put a thin layer of cheese on top of the spaghetti squash.

Next comes a layer of sautéed beef, mushrooms, and onions.

The beef is covered with more tomato sauce (so that the spaghetti squash is surrounded by tomato sauce on both sides) and then comes more spaghetti squash. Make sure you season the spaghetti squash with salt and pepper. 

The spaghetti squash is covered with more tomato sauce and then topped with cheese. 

Here are both casseroles ready to go into a 350 degree oven. If you want to bake the dish later in the day, just put it in the fridge at this point.

And here are the casseroles 40 minutes later.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Beef and Mushrooms

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound ground beef – you could omit the beef and just add more mushrooms
  • 1 onion, diced
  • About 15 mushrooms, sliced
  • About 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used the 3-cheese blend from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 jar tomato or marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara sauce)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Cook the spaghetti squash. I use two methods, depending on how much time I have. When I have little time, I usually cook the squash in the microwave for about 12 minutes (for a small squash). The key is to make numerous deep and long cuts with a sharp knife all over the squash, or it will explode. If I have more time, I usually cut it in half, remove the seeds and strings, and put it cut side down in a baking dish with 1/2 inch water and bake it at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. After the squash is cooked, take a fork and run it through the squash to make “spaghetti.”
  2. In the meantime, sauté the onions, mushrooms, and beef until the meat is cooked through.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Unless you plan to bake the casserole later on.)
  4. Assemble the casserole, starting with a layer of marinara sauce.
  5. Next, add a spaghetti squash layer and season it with salt and pepper.
  6. Add another layer of marinara sauce.
  7. Next, sprinkle some cheese on the marinara sauce.
  8. Add a layer of ground beef. Since this will be your only meat layer, you can make it a bit thicker.
  9. Add a layer of marinara sauce.
  10. Put another layer of spaghetti squash and season the squash with salt and pepper.
  11. Add a last layer of marinara sauce.
  12. Finish by sprinkling some cheese on top.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until the cheese is melted. If you refrigerated the assembled casserole, add a few minutes to the baking time.
The dish was kid approved. Smile

Questions: What are some of your favorite dishes to entertain with? The more I entertain, the more I realize the importance of easy, foolproof dishes that can be assembled ahead of time. After all, everyone should be able to enjoy the evening. Do you like spaghetti squash? If so, what’s your favorite spaghetti squash recipe? Feel free to post a link in the comments.

Be well,