By Jennifer M. Wood, MS, RDN | www.anutritiousdish.com

Spaghetti squash are a type of winter squash that gets its name from the pale-yellow flesh that can be fluffed into stringy, spaghetti-like strands.  These squash are loved by gluten-free, paleo and Primal dieters because of their ability to hold your favorite pasta sauce with fewer calories and carbohydrates than spaghetti. But, you don’t have to be on any special diet or eating plan to enjoy the mild and slightly sweet flavor of spaghetti squash.

When purchasing, choose spaghetti squash just like you would any winter squash. Choose squash with firm, blemish-free skin, with the stem still attach. Squash with the stem broken off won’t keep very long. Store winter squash in a cool, dark location where they will usually keep for a couple of months, on the counter top they usually keep for a week or more.

So what about nutrition? Spaghetti Squash Provide vitamin C and B6, beta-carotene, folate, manganese and some potassium. According to the USDA nutrient database, one cup cooked spaghetti squash only has 10 grams of carbohydrate and about 40 calories.

One of the easiest ways to cook spaghetti squash is in the microwave! So here’s how you make the delicious squash. First, you must poke holes in the squash, so that steam can escape and your squash doesn’t explode. Place it in a microwave safe dish, and then cook on high for about 4-5 minutes per pound of squash. So if your cooking a 2 lb. spaghetti squash, it will take about 10 minutes. You should also roll it over once it about half way through the cooking time. Once done, the outside will be slightly softened, if it’s not softened, go ahead and cook it a couple more minutes.Cooked spaghetti squash on white background

Then when it’s done, remove from the microwave and then give it a few minutes to cool prior to cutting. Once cooled slightly, simply slice off the top, and then slice it lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out of the center, and use a fork to pull the flesh away from the skin. You’ll see that it pulls into spaghetti like strands.

Serve spaghetti squash warm or cold with your favorite sauces or olive oil. Or simply mix in a little butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.