how to cook pasta like butternut squash noodles

Happy Monday!  What did you do this weekend?  I had a good one for several reasons, but the three most important ones were definitely because it was SUNNY BOTH DAYS!

I ran 7 miles on Sunday (with ZERO knee pain), AND I got to meet Neil from none other than, Neil’s Healthy Meals and his lovely wife, Lynne on Saturday!  Neil, Lynne, Luke, and I all got together for lunch and had great laughs, food, and general conversation.  I love meeting bloggers I follow in real life!

So, back to the topic at hand today:  BUTTERNUT SQUASH NOODLES!

I’ve had a BUNCH of emails, comments, and in-person questions about my veggie noodle “porn” as one of my pals called it.  We’ve gone too far as humans, right?

Actually, who am I kidding?  LOOK at this zoodle …errr voodle errr …boodle…

how to cook pasta like butternut squash noodles

 

Whatever you call it, it’s magnificent!  I am a former pastaholic.  I put my hands up and admit it.  So when I tell you the following fact, it’s the absolute truth:  I have eaten actual pasta twice in the last eight months.  

Some people are super skeptical about purchasing a spiralizer.  I get it.  My first purchase was the Veggetti.   

I started out making zoodles (zucchini noodles), and at first, I was like, “Ugh, whatever, they suck.”

SO open-minded of me, right?

I stuck by my Veggetti, and I kept using it to make things like cucumber-based salads, carrot-based salads, and regular and sweet potato fries/pancakes.

Then I got an actual sprializer and started playing with the big kids:  Turnip, celeriac, cabbage, and most importantly BUTTERNUT SQUASH.

squashnoodles

So much more than a beautiful veggie

Cooking spiralized noodles has become a sort of trial and error process, for me.  Firstly, I had to contend with the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit heats switching to a British oven.  Secondly, I am SUPER picky about food texture.  I don’t like my veggie noodles watery and, if I’m making them for a pasta dish, I want them as close in texture to pasta as possible.

There are people who are afraid of change, and the idea of making vegetables into pasta is just something they downright fear.

Side-note:  I feel like there are people who read my blog who were not even born when Wayne’s World came out.

Whatever, I’m old.  It bears repeating.

Obviously.

BUT back to butternut squash noodles.

I’ve discovered there are three rules for cooking butternut squash noodles with PASTA texture:

  1. You must use your Blade C. (I ALWAYS get A and C backward.  Apologies!)
  2. You must cook the noodles FRESHLY spiralized.  (If you store them in the fridge for a few days they will leak moisture and shrivel up into nothingness in the oven. )
  3. You must cook them at a LOW heat (about 125 Celsius/ 250 Fahrenheit) for anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, tossing around the pan every 12-15 minutes.  (My oven takes about 53 minutes, to be exact.)

Your butternut squash noodles will have the most amazing texture if you follow these rules!  My husband devoured/loved my slow cooker marinara sauce best on our noodles.  When you can wrap your veggie noodles around your fork and bite down on that perfect texture, you’ll be like, “spaghetti who?”

..and it started from one amazing veggie!

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Happy butternut squash noodle making!   Get creative or keep it simple. This vegetable in noodle form will seriously make you think twice about grabbing a box of pasta next time you’re at the shop.

Did I also mention it takes almost NO effort to make butternut squash noodles?

I’ve shared this before, but Ali over at Inspiralized.com has a great tutorial for how to prep and spiralize just about anything that can be spiralized.  Check out her tutorial here.

You might also like to see more of my spiralizer recipes here.

[Tweet “3 Rules For Cooking Spiralized Butternut Squash with Perfect Pasta Texture #Spiralized #VMeatlessMonday #CleanEats #GlutenFree via @BeetsPerMinute”]

Have you jumped on the spiralized noodle bandwagon yet?

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intuitive exercise fueling | post-workout foods to eat

Is it Thursday again?  Of course, it is, and this means I can TOL with Amanda at Running with Spoons.

Okay, truth be told, I am an “intermittent” intermittent faster, so I don’t always eat pre-workout.   I also prefer to exercise in the morning, so the way I fuel my workout is less about food and more about how I’m going to get moving.

However, there’s nothing wrong with people who prefer to eat pre-workout, and for some folks, it’s the best thing for their body.  This post isn’t about when you fuel your workouts but HOW you fuel them.  I like to fuel intuitively, and I call this process “Intuitive Exercise Fueling.”  

The intuitive fuel is all about listening to your body and giving it what needs to get you through and beyond your exercise sessions!

 

When I’m FINISHED working out, I’m all about getting the right food into my body asap.

In the past, this post-workout feeding could get a bit scary.

I have been on just about every eating plan there is, and none of them ever worked for me.  The one way of eating that does work for me (and I highly recommend for anybody recovering from an eating disorder) is intuitive eating.

As an intuitive eater, I tend to refuel my body after workouts with what my body is craving.  As long as you’re getting in your caloric needs and base macros, your body will be able to recover, build, and maintain muscle. Typically, after my exercise session, I crave protein; which makes sense — especially after exercise — as the body needs to replenish amino acids from protein to promote muscle repair and growth.

Protein powder is a great way to ensure you take in the correct amount of protein and a great option for adding to smoothies and snacks for your pre/post-workout refuel.

A typical post-workout meal for me could be:

  • Fruit and plain unsweetened yogurt mixed with protein powder
  • Protein shakes with hazelnut milk, frozen berries, protein powder, rolled oats, and PB2. 
  • Quest Bars or homemade protein bars
  • Gluten free protein pancakes with fruit and agave

intuitive exercise fueling | post-workout foods to eat

I try not to be too strict with my pre/post-workout meals.  If my body is craving something sweet, I usually will add some cocoa powder or dark chocolate chips to add that bit of sweetness and satisfy my sweet tooth.

It’s important to give your body what it needs and to listen to it when it calls out to you.  And this is the basis of eating by intuition.  Eating well after exercise also replenishes your glycogen stores and helps to keep your energy levels high and your body functioning optimally.

[Tweet “Intuitive Exercise Fueling is all about giving your body what it needs pre and post-workout #fuelyourworkout #protein #intuitiveeating via @beetsperminute @ETBFit”]

Even though I use the power of intuitive eating pre/post-exercise, I don’t use it as a free pass to make unhealthy decisions.  To be honest, once I’m done sweating my ass off, the last thing I really want to reach for is a processed and highly refined food product.  

I just eat the macros I need and let my body take care of the rest!

***************This post was inspired by ETB Fit.  For more information on their energy sources please check out their Pre-workout Energy page!**************************

Do you fuel pre or post-workout?  Do you use protein supplements?

Let’s connect!

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how to satisfy your sweet tooth sensibly | chocolate covered katie

Say what?? Yeah, these brownies are made with ZERO flour, and their bulk came from a single 15 ounce can of organic black beans. They did not taste like the insides of a burrito, however, and I’m going to go ahead and say these bean-based brownies could give Ms. Betty Crocker a run for her money!

Do you have a sweet tooth?  It’s something to contend with, right?  Seriously, the first couple years of my 30’s were like this.

Seriously, I’m not even exaggerating.  I suppose that was a hazard of moving back home for a few years.   My hometown is also home to The World’s Longest Candy Counter.

Yes, the LONGEST.

Even Guinness World Records said so.

According to a new study, it may not be entirely your fault that you crave all the sugar, but with that said, it is possible to satisfy your sweet tooth sensibly.

A couple of months ago, I made a Super Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookie using an adaption from a Blondie recipe by Katie at Chocolate Covered Katie.  And that chickpea cookie was so amazing that Luke has requested that I make it several times.  Okay, truthfully, I like to make it, because every single time I do I’m like…

I, went through a phase in my 20’s when I could have never bothered with a baked good.  I know, you’re probably like, whatever, Erin… I’m not kidding though; I honestly lost my sweet tooth for some years.

Believe me, I substituted sweets for other things like cocktails, craft beers, and all the cheese and crackers, but I skipped many cakes, cookies, pies, and ice cream.

Like Cher sings, if I could turn back time.

 

no flour black bean brownie recipe

The best part about baking without processed flours and refined sweeteners is how people can’t tell the difference.  

SURE as soon as you divulge the mystery ingredients there will be those people who will say “oh, I could tell.” However, they totally couldn’t tell and, also, they ate half the tray.

As I was saying, I lost my sweet tooth in my 20’s, but when I got into my 30’s, it came back with a vengeance.  

 

I knew that I needed to get a grip on my love of cakes, cookies, and sweets in general.  As a person in that continuous period of “recovery” from an eating disorder, I try to eat the best versions of the foods I love whenever possible.

When I finally decided to get healthy and become a fitness professional and nutritional therapist, I had to start practicing what I preach, and I wasn’t teaching that people should work their asses off and then down a box of Krispy Kremes.  I believe in balance, eating intuitively and fueling your body with REAL whole food sources.  And, yes, this means you can KEEP EATING delicious brownies.

no flour black bean brownie recipe

My go-to for healthy and unique dessert recipes is Chocolate Covered Katie.  You can find Katie’s recipe for these Black Bean Brownies here along with SO many other incredible delights — many of which are on my current healthy food bucket list!

 

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I hope everybody is having a great Tuesday!  I’m linking up with Jill and Jessica for #DishTheFit.

What’s your favorite healthy dessert?  Do you ever bake flour-free?

 

 

is all sugar created equal| sugar facts

So, there’s a lot of buzz, hype, and confusion about eating sugar, right? Is it good? Is it bad? Am I eating too much?  Well, this post comes after much thought and years of research, reading, and also working with people who are looking to change their eating habits.  It’s easy to get confused about sugar, and truthfully, trying to get to the bottom of the truth about sugar, is enough to make you stress eat a Snickers, am I right?  If you want to navigate your way through the (not so sweet) confusion when it comes to sugar and your diet, you need only to ask this one question to solve sugar confusion.  

is all sugar created equal| sugar facts

 

By now, it’s almost a broken record to hear about how sugar is the enemy, and it no doubt is public enemy number one in obesity (childhood and adult), heart disease, and diabetes at the moment.  The truth is, most people don’t know the difference between the different types of sugars that are in the foods we eat.

 

A sugar calorie, unrefined

Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose and galactose.  What are monosaccharides?

Monosaccharides are the simplest units of carbohydrates and the simplest form of sugar. They are the building blocks of more complex carbohydrates such as disaccharides and polysaccharides.  Some examples of monosaccharides are cane sugar, honey, agave, and molasses.

A disaccharide is a sugar composed of two monosaccharides and is formed when two sugars are joined, and a molecule of water is removed. For example, milk sugar (lactose) is made from glucose and galactose whereas cane sugar is made from glucose and fructose.

Polysaccharides are formed by three or more monosaccharides.  Some examples of polysaccharides are starch (corn, white potatoes), cellulose (fruit skins and seeds), and pectin (soluble fibers such as dried beans, flaxseed, and nuts).

Let’s break it down further.

Glucose:  A simple sugar or a monosaccharide because it is one of the smallest units which has the characteristics of this class of carbohydrates.  When oxidized in the body, (metabolism), glucose produces carbon dioxide, water, and some nitrogen compounds, and in the process provides energy which can be used by the cells.  In the human bloodstream glucose is referred to as “blood sugar.”

Fructose: Sugar found in fruit and honey.  Used as a sweetener for soft drinks and processed food.  Processed solely by the liver. Fructose, particularly in liquid form (outside of whole fruits and vegetable liquid form) is not to be confused with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).

Sucrose:  Basic table sugar, also found in fresh fruit.  When sucrose is consumed, the enzyme beta-fructosidase separates sucrose into its individual sugar units of glucose and fructose. Both sugars are then taken up by their specific transport mechanisms.  The body will use glucose as its primary energy source and the excess energy from fructose, if not needed, will be poured into fat synthesis, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose.

Galactose:  Is a monosaccharide commonly occurring in lactose. Also called brain sugar.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Also known as glucose-fructose syrup. A combination of fructose and glucose made by processing corn syrup. Enzymatic processing converts some of the corn syrup’s glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. The resulting syrup is sweeter and more soluble. HFCS 55 (mostly used in processed foods) is approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose.

Dextrose: Another name for glucose.

Maltodextrin: A highly processed powdered sweetener enzymatically derived from any starch, resulting in a mixture of Glucose, Maltose, Oligosaccharides, and Polysaccharides. In the US, the starch is usually corn, rice or potato; in Europe, it is commonly wheat.

Maltose: (aka Malt Sugar) Starch and malt broke down (mashed) into simple sugars and regularly used in beer, bread, and baby food.

Stevia: Also known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf. Stevia plants are dried and subjected to a water extraction process. 300 times sweeter than sugar with zero calories.

Sucralose: (aka Splenda) An artificial sweetener that is 600 times as sweet as table sugar, twice as sweet as saccharin, and 3.3 times as sweet as aspartame.

Sugar Alcohols: Also know as polyols, derived from a plant sugar which is extracted by differing means, then reduced and then hydrogenated, then recrystallized. Part of their structure resembles sugar and part are similar to alcohol, yet they are neither sugar nor alcohol, they just resemble their molecular structure. Contain about 2.6 calories per gram. Occur naturally in plant products such as fruits, berries, starches, seaweeds.

Are you dizzy now?  That’s not even all the sweet substances out there, but these are the main culprits in most of the foods on the market today — especially processed foods.

Sugar:  Not good vs. bad, but better vs. worse.

When talking about the body’s metabolic processes, and the fact that we need glycogen in our body to move, breathe, and function; it can be difficult to think that eating something with sugar isn’t a good choice.

Also, sugar — by its very makeup — IS carbohydrate, which is something we need to produce and store glycogen for all of our essential body functions.

So, c’mon, if I have to eat carbohydrates — including sugar — how can it be so bad??

In the description of sugar types I posted above, you can see that fructose, which is a sugar found in honey and fruits, is processed solely by the liver.  But wait, fruits are good for you, right?  Yes, fruits are good for you.  Here’s the deal, eating an apple, as opposed to a teaspoon or two of table sugar, or sucrose (which is part fructose) is different.  Why?  When it comes to sugar calories, they are NOT all created equally.

are all sugar calories created equal?

The raw truth about sugar calories

Low carb, no carb, paleo, and IIFYM (just to name a few) are eating plans that discourage the consumption of refined sugar, and some of those plans even prohibit fruit due to its sugar content.

While I agree that when it comes to your overall health, sugar consumption is something to keep in check, however, it’s where you’re getting your sugar calories from that is an intricate part of your overall health.

Look, sugar is somewhat unavoidable — it is a naturally occurring ingredient.  One way you can break through the sugary confusion is to ask yourself this simple question — to this complicated question:   “In addition to the sugar in this item, what other benefits will I receive by choosing to eat this food?” If you can’t list any actual health benefits to consuming that food, it’s probably safe to say that it’s not the best form of sugar to be eating.  Let’s take a look at the two examples below.

Soda vs. Fresh Juices

I’ve heard this before, “if a glass of fruit juice is just as sweet and just as many calories as a can of soda than I’m going to have the soda.”  While 12 ounces of soda and 12 ounces of juice are close in calories and sugar content, there is a significant difference between the two beverages and how they affect the body.

A can of soda has 140 calories, 39 grams of processed sugar (HFCS), and no fiber, so, therefore, it has ZERO health benefit.  Whereas, a glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice has 177 calories, 32 grams of natural fructose sugar, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, vitamins A and C, Iron, calcium, and potassium.

Milk chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

One ounce of milk chocolate has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 4 grams of sugar and no added vitamins, minerals or nutrients.  Dark chocolate also has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat, and 4 grams of sugar, however, dark chocolate also contains antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin B12.

Wow! A lot of information.  Let’s summarize it all.

Sugar comes in a lot of different forms.  Some types of sugar come in the form of “empty calories” or “nutrient sparse” foods such as many processed foods, candy, soft drinks, and concentrated juices.   While eating sugar may seem unavoidable, you need to ask yourself which health benefits are closely associated with the sugar containing foods you’re about to eat.  If you can’t find a single vitamin, mineral, or nutrient in a sugary product in question– you won’t be missing out by giving IT a miss.  Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are essential to our diet.  We need a balance of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to fully absorb the nutrition in the foods we eat.  While it’s okay to enjoy an occasional chocolate bar, ice cream, and other sweets — they are not the best source of energy for our bodies.

While your body DOESN’T know the difference between table sugar and fruit, your body DOES know the difference between foods with fiber, protein, simple and complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

If you get the proper stuff to your mouth, your body will do take care of the rest.

Have you ever been confused by sugar? Do you live a limited sugar lifestyle?  If you had 10 minutes how would you fit in something healthy?

***Helpful resources I used in addition to my nutritional knowledge about sugar to create this post.

SF Gate

Nerd Fitness – Super Awesome Blog, btw.

 

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Spiralized Butternut Squash Caprese Salad

There’s nothing I love to order more at an Italian restaurant or deli than a Caprese salad.  I love the combination of fresh basil and tomato; it’s such a fresh tasting salad that instantly makes me think of summer.  Adding butternut squash to this traditional salad packs it with extra nutrition and fills you up. Sprinkle a bit of fresh grated Parmesan cheese and prepare to be in food heaven!  

One of the things I miss about living in New York has to be the Italian eateries.  I miss going into a small delicatessen and looking behind the glass counter at all the amazing pasta, meats, cheeses, and salads.  I loved getting a Caprese salad whenever possible.  

The smell of fresh basil has a special power over me.  It’s a herb certainly worth growing.  

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Did you know that basil is one of the healthiest herbs in the world?  Basil, also known as St. Joseph’s Wart, belongs to the mint family.  What makes basil so healthy?  Basil has antibacterial qualities, provided by its volatile oils — such as estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene.  Basil also has important antioxidants such as, orientin and vicenin, which, have been found to protect cell structures.  Plus, it tastes beautiful and makes Margherita pizza, salads, soups, pasta, and sandwiches taste fantastic.

While I love fresh out of your garden basil, you can easily buy a basil plant to keep in your kitchen or home to add flavor and nutrition to your everyday foods.  

Basil is even good in cocktails; basil gimlet and a basil lemon martini were my faves at a bar I used to go to in NYC.

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I’ve been neglecting my spiralizer lately, and I feel really guilty about it.  In fact, Luke and I have been eating way too much meat lately and have both realized — since my recent nutritional therapy certification — that we need to abstain from wheat.  However, that’s a whole blog series in itself (and may become one)!

You don’t have to own a spiralizer to make this recipe because it would be just as delicious with chopped or sliced butternut squash.  This is a chilled salad, however, so you will be refrigerating the squash after it is fully cooked.  I prefer spiralizing butternut squash, so when I can, I will take advantage of that over chopping any day!

squashnoodles

With the 4th of July coming up (wow, that makes me homesick) this salad would be a wonderful addition to any BBQ or get together.  Spiralized butternut squash Caprese salad is so colorful, flavorful, and simple — you really should give this recipe a try.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spiralized Butternut Squash Caprese Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian
 
Chilled spiralized butternut squash Caprese salad. A colorful and fiber- rich version of the traditional Italian classic.
Ingredients
  • 1 Medium butternut squash (spiralized or chopped)
  • 2 cups of freshly chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (and two full leaves to garnish)
  • Two cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp of healthy oil (I used hemp, you could use any healthy oil of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. You will want to cook your butternut squash noodles or cubes and let them chill in the refrigerator ahead of time (minimum of 90 minutes)
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 (ovens vary).
  3. Prepare and peel your butternut squash for spiralizing or chopping. If you're going to spiralize your butternut squash, you should use your "C" blade (for thinner noodles).
  4. Cook the squash until thoroughly heated (mine took about 30 minutes)
  5. Place cooked squash in the refrigerator to cool.
  6. To prepare the rest of your salad:
  7. Chop up your tomatoes into chunks
  8. You will want to roughly chop your basil leaves, and depending on how strong you want your basil flavor to be, you may want more than ¼ cup!
  9. Finely chop the garlic.
  10. Once your squash is cooled, place the chilled noodles (or chunks) into a giant bowl and add the tomato, basil, and garlic.
  11. Add in your 2 tbsp of healthy oil and combine all the ingredients.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Place the salad mixture back in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  14. Once the entire salad mixture has chilled thoroughly, add in your 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese and garnish with two basil leaves.
  15. Mangiare!

You could cut down on the cooking time by serving this salad cooked, but during the summer don’t you just love a pasta salad or chilled veggies?  I know that I do.

[Tweet “Tasty summer salad for your 4th of July BBQ — Spiralized Butternut Squash Caprese Salad via @BeetsPerMinute http://beetsperminute.com/spiralized-but…-caprese-salad/”]

Spiralized Butternut Squash Caprese Salad

Do you like basil?  What’s your favorite Italian dish?

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