Roasted garlic and kale spaghetti squash with sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts makes for a comforting, low-carb meal requiring only 5 main ingredients! Plus the recipe is simple to prepare!
Over the weekend, I read this article in Scientific American (followed by this one because I needed more) I thought was fascinating and wanted to share it with you, as it pertains to overall healthy lifestyle. Can we handle science on a Monday? I’ll try to be painless. If you can’t deal, skip straight to the recipe – it’s grrrrreat!
Let me preface this article report by saying I’m nowhere near qualified to discuss health and fitness because I am a professional in neither field. So this isn’t to spark debate on what individuals should or shouldn’t do, it’s simply a review of a piece of research I found to be interesting. End disclosure.
The debate on health and fitness seems to go back and forth between whether exercise or food affects your body and lifestyle more. It seems most people would agree that exercise + nutritious, conscious eating = healthy lifestyle. The article I read focused solely on weight in relation to calories burned. Ready? Okay.
There have been several studies over the years measuring the energy output of hunter/gatherer tribes in Africa versus average (less active) Americans, and it turns out regardless of the amount of movement, both highly active individuals and inactive individuals burn the same amount of calories per day. I know. Insanity. Summary: exercise doesn’t affect weight (not to be confused with physique) – food does.
As it’s explained in the article, scientists haven’t quite figured out why this is, but the theory is that the body is hardwired to burn a fixed amount of energy per day. So those who are highly active make up the difference by burning less energy doing menial tasks, as the brain adjusts for the work they’ve already done. The takeaway here is weight is the direct result of calories in versus calories out – and I would make a humble and severely ill-qualified note by adding type of calories consumed as well.
It goes without saying, I would never suggest being sedentary just because you’ll be expelling the same amount of energy regardless of whether or not you go to the gym. Exercise in and of itself has a huge amount of health benefits that don’t relate to weight – the fact that it’s a natural anti-inflammatory alone is enough to get me off my booty. The reason I bring this up is if you’re like me and have at least at one point in your life wondered why all the calories you burn don’t make you look like a supermodel, it’s because of all of this – exercise alone quite possibly doesn’t have an effect on weight.
If you’re scratching your head and wondering where ultra marathon runners fit into the picture, that topic wasn’t covered in the article, so it remains a quandary to me, too. I’ll provide updates as I uncover them.
To me, this is important, because the study indicates the amount and type of food we eat is the primary reason for our weight. We could talk all day about calories and calorie types, but I’ll leave the discussion there for a couple of reasons. First, I myself don’t count calories (it makes me outwardly neurotic). And also because every actual body requires a different nutrient profile based on physical activity and DNA. Plus, every actual body has its own set of tolerances and intolerances, rendering a great deal of the health and calorie talk irrelevant.
Was that painless on a Monday? Don’t answer that.
I know nothing replaces a steamy pile of actual spaghetti, but for those of us who are looking for comfort food that is easy on the digestive system, this meal fits the bill. It has contains vitamins and minerals from the spaghetti squash and kale, a boost of flavor from the sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic, and some protein and crunch from the walnuts.
This simple recipe requires only 5 main ingredients (not including sea salt and olive oil), and yet it’s so stinking flavorful. This recipe will feed two people comfortably (or if you’re me, it will feed you twice in one day…lunch + dinner), so if you’re feeding more, you can easily double or triple the recipe.
While roasting spaghetti squash is a bit of a time commitment, it can easily be done up to 3 days ahead of time, making the preparation process a little easier.
Options for Adaptations:
- If you prefer fresh cherry tomatoes over sun-dried tomatoes, feel free to swap them out!
- Use chard or spinach in place of kale.
- Replace the roasted walnuts with roasted almonds, pecans, cashews, pine nuts, or pistachios, or go nut-free.
- Make this a meat-lover’s dish by adding grilled or rotisserie chicken.
- To keep this recipe vegetarian but add a protein boost, add chickpeas or a sunny-side up egg.
- For some citrusy flavor, add a couple tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and/or lemon zest.
Have a marvelous Monday and an excellent start to the week!
Roasted Garlic and Kale Spaghetti Squash
Roast the spaghetti squash according to these instructions, along with the garlic. To roast garlic, cut the top off, of the bulb, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Place in the oven with the spaghetti squash for the whole duration of roasting. Roast the walnuts for 5 minutes if desired.
When the spaghetti squash and garlic (and walnuts) have finished roasting, allow them to cool enough to handle. Once cool, use a fork to release the strands of spaghetti squash and place in a large bowl. Peel the garlic cloves, give them a rough chop, and transfer them to the bowl with the spaghetti squash.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the chopped kale. Cover and cook until kale has wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sun dried tomatoes, along with the spaghetti squash, roasted garlic, and walnuts. Continue cooking and stirring until all of the ingredients are well-combined and heated through.
Add sea salt to taste and taste the spaghetti squash for flavor. If desired, drizzle a couple tablespoons of lemon juice over the spaghetti squash for added citrusy flavor. Serve and enjoy!