Things are looking up since last week. It’s amazing how a sprinkle of consistency (i.e. panic swimming four days in a row), knocking out some work projects, and leafy greens can set things right again. (Well, some things.)
As I mentioned last week, I came home from Vancouver with a heightened level of frustration with Gus, my chest issue. On Thursday, I had a follow-up appointment with my GI doc and went in armed with a grand exit speech: “I’m not trying any more of your muscle relaxing, blood-flow enhancing drugs! If you can’t make me burp I’m done with you!” But before I had a chance to deploy it, he suggested just two more things before I donate all my running shoes to Goodwill: An antispasmodic drug (Baclofen) often prescribed for troublesome hiccups, and following that, a test I’ll take next month that will measure the pH and air content of my esophagus. After that, surgery on my lower esophageal sphincter is all that’s left—not a path either of us is fond of.
The day before visiting him, I’d committed to trying the low FODMAP diet—a relatively new diet being explored for its positive effects on people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. I bought Monash University’s app, and bought a bunch of weird new foods like lactose-free milk and corn flakes. But after one day on the diet, including a surprisingly good gluten-free pizza from Blaze Pizza with friends (wheat is a high FODMAP food), my doctor put the kibosh on that plan with a quick lesson on food and fermentation, gas and the gut. Since fermentation happens in the intestines, not the stomach, a low gas diet isn’t going to help the air that’s possibly escaping from my stomach into my esophagus and causing pressure.
All that has little to do with spaghetti squash, of course, other than the fact that I’m now back to eating normally and healthily. (As much as I love my mom’s lemon poppyseed loaf, it doesn’t belong in my daily diet!)
No matter the season, I almost always have a squash of some sort on hand. It’s not really a seasonal food for me; I’ll throw cubed acorn into tacos and butternut chunks on a salad any day.
But I do have a soft spot for the mighty, football-shaped spaghetti squash and its stringy flesh.
I’ve blogged about it before, but recently tried a new variation that I’ll definitely be making again. It’s a light and springy take on Pad Thai, the uber-simple noodle dish with tofu, veggies and coated in peanut sauce. At first, I used spaghetti squash as a way to reduce carbs and calories, but now I just like it for the unique texture it brings to this normally slippery noodle based dish.
The best thing about this recipe is that it’s not really a recipe. Simply cook your squash, stir-fry your protein and veggies, mix up your sauce, and you have dinner. No matter if you’re gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, or low-FODMAP, you can find a variation that works for you. It also keeps well in the fridge and is good cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
- cooked spaghetti squash
- 1 package extra-firm tofu, pressed, and cut into small cubes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- vegetables of your choice, sliced thinly (ie: carrots, snow peas, peppers)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk (full-fat or light)
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- pinch of ground ginger
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- pinch of ground black pepper
- honey to taste
- chopped fresh cilantro, peanuts, and scallions for garnish
Cook your squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with the rack in the middle. Put whole squash in a baking dish and bake until you can easily insert a paring knife, about 40 minutes to one hour. Remove squash from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Cut it in half from tip to tip (long ways) and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Scrape the sides of the squash with a fork until you have removed all the stringy spaghetti. (I like it a bit better baked, but if you’re in a time crunch you can microwave it too: Pierce your squash about six times with a fork or knife so the steam can release as it cooks and microwave about 15 minutes, rotating every five minutes. Cook until you can easily cut into the squash.
While the squash is baking, make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together coconut milk, peanut butter, spices and sweetener. Combine with cooked squash. Toss with green onion and chopped peanuts. Serve hot, chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with cilantro, peanuts, green onion and coconut flake. Lower heat to low to keep warm.
Cook your tofu: Heat 1 Tbsp of sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and tofu cubes and stir-fry until browned and chewy, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Mix cooked squash with the peanut sauce until dressed to your taste. (Tongs work well.) Stir in tofu cubes. Garnish with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and scallions and serve warm. (We had avocado, so we threw some on as well.)