I’m not exactly sure how it got started, but for the past five years Roark and I have been making ourselves a fresh fruit smoothie every morning for breakfast. We read somewhere that because a smoothie is already chopped up, it makes digestion easier for our stomachs, leaving our bodies with extra energy that we wouldn’t get with a heavier bagel or eggs.
We swear by them. My day is incomplete if I don’t start it off with a smoothie. Trust me, if you’re looking for extra energy in the morning, seriously consider giving this a try for a week. If you’re interested, I will be posting recipes for smoothies in the near future as well.
Naturally, when you use your blender every morning, you are bound to give it a workout. We would regularly go a year, if not less, before the gears stripped or the motor bit the dust on yet another new blender. It was always frustrating and would lead us to testing out different models hoping for different results. After trying several brands, we finally found one that worked for us!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know I’m a huge fan of the Ninja. We first purchased the Ninja Master Prep system three years ago and have never looked back. It performs flawlessly every morning, and only after 3 years of constant use do we need to order a new blade (which is easy to get on their site). It cleans up quickly, as there is no gasket at the bottom for liquid to run out, but rather the motor is attached though the lid. I can’t say enough good things about this product! I am thrilled that they are allowing me to give away a Ninja Master Prep – just like the one I own – as my first giveaway to a lucky reader!
So after this entire bit about smoothies, I know you are going to be surprised to see a recipe for a Spaghetti Squash Gratin. But that is the great thing about the Ninja; it can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of different recipes. Ours sometimes gets used for all three meals in a day, it’s that versatile!
For this recipe, I wanted to create a healthier version of Macaroni and Cheese, so it made sense to take advantage of the all the Spaghetti Squash flooding the market right now. If you’ve never tried Spaghetti Squash, you should! It is a lovely winter squash, and when cooked, the flesh scrapes away from the rind in strands that closely resemble spaghetti.
Paired with the Acorn Squash Béchamel, which you blend together in the Ninja, this recipe is loaded with vitamin A, potassium, fiber, and beta-carotene. For those that don’t know, Béchamel is an extra thick sauce that is often used in French and Italian cuisine mostly in baked dishes. Thanks to the sauce, the dish turns out to be very rich and creamy, so it seems like a bit of an indulgence. I like to pair it with either a salad or veggies made with vinegar, so that the acidity of the vinegar balances out the sweetness of the squash.
OK, so now for the fun part- all the giveaway details. The winner will receive a brand new Ninja Master Prep system, featuring six blades that pull ingredients through six horizontal frames to blend food easily and accurately in seconds. The system also comes with a chopping bowl, which works like a food processor. I personally use it to make hummus and other delicious recipes. Here’s how to enter:
1. Answer the following: Do you have a kitchen appliance, tool, or gadget you can’t live without? Tell me about it and how you use it. Leave your answer in the comments below.
2. Like “The Healthy Helping” on Facebook. Leave a separate comment below saying you did so. If you already like The Healthy Helping, let me know in the comment!
OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL ENTRIES:
1. Follow The Healthy Helping on Twitter. Leave a separate comment below saying you did so for one additional entry. If you already follow The Healthy Helping, let me know in the comment too!
2. Follow Ninja on Twitter. Leave a separate comment below saying you did so for one additional entry. If you already follow Ninja, let me know in your comment!
Contest will start January 24th and will end February 7th at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be drawn at random and contacted via email. Winner will have 3 days to respond before another winner is chosen at random. Winner needs to reside in the continental US and must be 18 years old.
- 1 Spaghetti Squash
- 1 T of Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- ½ an Acorn Squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- ¾ Cup of Vegetable Broth
- ¾ Cup of Milk
- 4 oz. of Fontana Cheese
- 4 oz. of Ricotta
- 1 T of Fresh Sage, minced
- ⅓ Cup of Italian Bread Crumbs
- 4 oz. of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half and scoop out the seeds, placing each half’s insides facing up on a baking pan. Spray or brush the flesh with Olive Oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove to let cool.
- While the Spaghetti Squash cooks, you can start preparing the Béchamel. Finely coat a large pot in Olive Oil. Add the Garlic to the pot and lightly brown. Then combine the Squash, Broth, and Milk in the pot, bringing the whole mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the Acorn Squash is tender to the pressure of a fork.
- Using a blender, such as the Ninja Master Prep, blend the Acorn Squash mixture together. If you are using a standard blender, make sure to leave an opening for steam to escape. Once the mixture is smooth, place it in a large bowl and add in the Fontana and Ricotta Cheeses, as well as the Sage and Salt to taste. Stir everything until combined and set aside.
- Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the Spaghetti Squash to remove it from the rind. Add the Spaghetti Squash ribbons to the Béchamel, stirring until the Spaghetti Squash is well coated. Pour the mixture into a 9×9 baking dish that has been sprayed with Olive Oil.
- In a small bowl, mix the Bread Crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the Spaghetti Squash. Bake the dish at 350F until golden brown on top and bubbling, about 35 minutes.