Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spaghetti squash, chicken sausage & shallots

One of the side effects of taking part in a program such as Weight Watchers were you are carefully tracking and recording what you eat is that you learn a lot about your eating habits.  Throughout the past year of Weight Watchers, I have come to learn a lot about my body and my behaviors.  For example, I used to only recognize a rumbling in my stomach as a sign of hunger.  However, after months of Weight Watchers, I now know that both feeling lethargic and a bit "cranky" are also signs that I need to find something filling to snack on-- and I likely need a big glass of water.  I've learned that I tend to overeat on the weekends mistaking hungry for dehydration.  And I've also learned that I am a volume eater.  Even if a smaller portion of food may satisfy my physical hunger, I mentally enjoy and am comforted by seeing and consuming a heaping plate of food.  Small portions feel too much like I am depriving myself and I usually end up eating more later on.

I have developed a number of recipes that rely heavily on vegetables and voluminous foods so that I get to serve myself what is essentially a BIG plate of food, but with maximum nutrition and low Weight Watchers PointsPlus values.  What comes in handy is that with Weight Watchers PointsPlus, almost all fruits and vegetables have 0 points values.  I've been playing around with spaghetti squash a lot over the past few weeks and have perfected a super simple dish that is already a favorite of mine and will soon be a staple in my diet: Spaghetti squash, chicken sausage, and shallots.  Photo and recipe below... let me know what you think!!

Spaghetti Squash & Chicken Sausage
Makes: 2 BIG servings!!
Weight Watchers PointsPlus (per serving): 6
-  1 Spaghetti Squash
- 4 links Bilinskis Mild Italian chicken sausage (or your favorite brand)
- 1 large shallot
- Salt & pepper
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- 2 Teaspoons olive oil
- Red pepper flakes (if desired)

Step 1:  Season uncooked, halved spaghetti squash (seeds removed) with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder

Step 2:  Roast spaghetti squash face down in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes (for full instructions on how to roast a spaghetti squash, with pictures, check out my blog on exactly that -- cooking a spaghetti squash!)

Step 3:  While the spaghetti squash is cooling, chop shallots and saute in 2 teaspoons of olive oil until slightly translucent and aromatic.

Step 4:  Cut up 4 links of your favorite brand of chicken sausage.  I personally use Bilinski brand Mild Italian chicken sausage, most flavors, including Mild Italian, have a PointsPlus value of 2 points for one sausage link, 5 points for 2 links.  They are all delicious with great flavor, but I particularly like the Mild Italian for this recipe.  Another popular brand is Al Fresco, which have delicious chicken sausage in tons of flavors as well.  They are both delicious but Al Fresco chicken sausage usually comes in at 3 PointsPlus per link, so I usually go with Bilinski.  Either brand works great.

Step 5:  Add the chicken sausage to the pan with the shallots.  The chicken sausage comes fully cooked, but be sure to give it some time in the pan to release the oils and fats in the chicken sausage and give it some heat and get a nice brown crust on the sausage.

Step 6:  Shred the spaghetti squash with a fork directly into the fry pan with the shallots and chicken sausage.  If the spaghetti squash is still warm, hold with a paper towel or cloth to be able to shred the meat from the squash without burning yourself.

Step 7:  Season again with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (the latter, only if you want a little heat.)  Mix everything together, to combine sausage, shallots, and spaghetti squash.

Step 8:  Split and serve. Bon Appetite!

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