Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dairy + Gluten Free Spinach Alfredo Recipe

One of the greatest things about winter, in my opinion, is the glorious squash!! I LOVE winter squash!! Butternut, acorn, spaghetti; all delicious as they are nutritious! Say, while we are on the topic, let's talk about the great health benefits of squash!

Winter Squash is great for:

  • Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant and essential for eye health
  • Vitamin C, another antioxidant that helps keep our bones, skin, and brain in tip top shape
  • Fiber, which is needed for a healthy colon, as well as regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels

Today, I would like you all to welcome my lovely assistant for this post, spaghetti squash! *Applause* Spaghetti Squash is one of my new favorite pasta alternatives!

Why a pasta alternative, you ask?

Well, you may recall from my previous post that I have been dealing with tummy issues for some time. After some duteous research (because the grad school student in me is programmed to think "research"), I found that many of my symptoms correlate with Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease, to be brief, means your body does not respond well to gluten and it triggers unpleasant side effects in your body, like bloating, stomach pains, headaches, and others. Gluten is most commonly found in breads and pastas, but is often times found in processed foods and even beauty products And since the testing to confirm Celiac Disease is quite expensive, I resorted to my own testing.

I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet to see how that might help. This decision actually came after very, very serious stomach pains during one of my runs training from my 15K that is Sunday (eek!) I ended up walking the majority of the time because I could not physically handle the pain in my stomach. I returned to my apartment feeling so frustrated that I just wanted to throw things!

The only throwing I ended up doing was the gluten-filled products in my pantry into the trash. And that afternoon I went to the grocery store to stock my pantry with gluten free items and this is where you find me today.

It has not even been a week and I feel an incredible difference!! I was able to run better than I ever have been and have had ZERO stomach cramps, bloating, ect. So I may be onto something here with this no gluten thing..

Anywho! Spaghetti squash is a great pasta alternative because after it is roasted in the oven, it comes apart looking just like pasta! Only is a veggie! And who couldn't use more of those on their plate?

So, in honor of my recent diet modification, I am sharing with you this delicious twist on a classic favorite! It is a dairy-free and gluten-free spaghetti squash alfredo!

Dairy + Gluten Free Spinach Alfredo
Makes 2-3 Servings

1 medium spaghetti squash

2 teaspoon coconut oil or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup water
2 tablespoons of almond milk
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
black pepper, to taste
2 cups of spinach

Preheat oven 425 degrees.
Cut spaghetti squash in half length wise. Scoop out the seeds. (Don't throw them away though!! You can roast them for a tasty treat!)
Place squash (flesh side down) in a baking dish with a little water.
Cook in oven for approx. 30-40 mins

About 15-20 minutes before squash is done, you can start the sauce.
Add butter or coconut oil to a sauce pan on low heat. 
Add garlic and saute until tender. 
Add in 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of cauliflower. Bring to a boil. Note: water will most likely not cover cauliflower.  
Once at a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 8-10 mins. 
Transfer to a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender and blend with almond milk until it is at a smooth and creamy consistency.
**May need to add more or less milk depending on how thick or thin you want it. 
Return back to sauce pan and add in spinach, salt, and pepper. 
Simmer on low heat until spaghetti squash is done, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not burn.

Putting it together:
Once squash is done, remove from oven and scrape out the fresh with a fork. It should come out in noodle shapes. 
Add "noodles" to sauce and mix.
Transfer to plate and enjoy!

**Side note: I would like to try this by adding some Daiya Dairy Free Cheese just to add some more creaminess. I will be sure to let you all know how it tastes if I do!

What is your favorite winter squash dish?!

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