The fall season often turns our thoughts toward heartier meals, such as roasts, casseroles and seasonal desserts.
This year, try your hand at a healthier option: spaghetti squash topped with lean turkey meatballs.
The low-calorie and low-carb spaghetti squash provides small amounts of almost every essential vitamin, including vitamin C and vitamin B-6. Vitamin C plays a role in the growth and repair of body proteins, while vitamin B-6 is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions in your body, including energy metabolism and hemoglobin production.
You’ll also receive a fair share of minerals in just one cup of spaghetti squash, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and calcium, to name a few.
When selecting your choice of ground turkey, the leaner option will help reduce overall calories, fat (saturated fat) and sodium. The tasty turkey meatballs in this dish will provide a portion of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus, as well as vitamin B-6 and niacin.
“Eating a primarily plant-based diet and using herbs to flavor dishes, also known as the Mediterranean diet, has been shown to improve health, reduce risk of chronic diseases and cancer,” says Mary Jean Christian, a registered dietitian and UCI Health Diabetes Program coordinator. “This recipe provides a tasty way to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle.”
Southwestern Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Meatballs
- 4 cups spaghetti squash, cooked using whatever method you prefer; if your squash is large, you’ll have more than you need for this recipe
- 1/2 pound ground breast-meat turkey
- 1 tablespoon minced onion
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 14.5-ounce cans petite cut diced tomatoes with jalapeños
- 2 ounces Monterey jack cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Mix turkey with minced onion, parsley, basil and breadcrumbs. Mix in egg. Form into 12 meatballs—each about a rounded tablespoon.
Heat oil in a skillet. Brown meatballs evenly, about five minutes total. Pour tomatoes over meatballs and heat for about five minutes. Meatballs will be cooked through and tomatoes heated.
To serve, put about 1 cup of squash on each plate and top with three meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with Monterey jack cheese and cilantro.
- 297 calories
- 18 g protein
- 14 g fat (5 g saturated fat, no trans-fat)
- 110 mg cholesterol
- 24 g carbohydrates
- 4 g fiber
- 990 mg sodium
- 10 g sugars