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Spaghetti Squash With Chipotle Meat Sauce

Photography: Matthew Kadey

This riff on spaghetti with meat sauce is lighter in calories, thanks to a stealth swap of regular noodles for squash ones. To make the dish even more of a standout, consider splurging on ground bison. A 2013 study published in Nutrition Research found that eating bison results in less of a rise in blood triglycerides, inflammation and other heart-disease risk factors than eating beef does (McDaniel et al. 2013). Differences in rearing methods and nutrition profile may explain why. Smoky chipotles pack a punch, so if serving anyone averse to spicy food, you can cut back to using a single one.

Shopping tip. Canned chipotle chili peppers can be found in the Latin section of most grocery stores.

  • 2 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 3 t grapeseed oil or canola oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, diced
  • 2 C chopped mushrooms
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef or ground bison
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste, preferably salt-free
  • 2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 1 t cumin powder
  • 1⁄4 t black pepper
  • 1⁄4 t salt
  • 1⁄4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and brush flesh with 1 teaspoon oil. Place squash halves on baking sheet, cut sides down, and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Scrape out flesh into strands with tines of fork. Squash can also be prepared in microwave by placing halves flesh-side down in microwave-safe container and heating on high for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Heat remaining oil in saucepan or large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, red bell pepper, eggplant and mushrooms; cook until vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan and place ground meat in skillet. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Return vegetables to pan along with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle chili peppers, oregano, cumin, pepper and salt. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes. Stir in basil.

Serve squash topped with meat sauce and Parmesan. Serves four.

Per serving: 466 calories; 35 protein; 14 g fat (5 g saturated); 57 g carbs; 8 g fiber; 518 mg sodium.

To view the full article that ran in the February 2014 issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal click here.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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