The weather’s getting warmer and al fresco dining is right around the corner. Also just around the corner? Barbecue season. While it may bring to mind a rack of ribs or a juicy beef burger, barbecue doesn’t necessarily mean indulging. Rather, it can also mean eating healthy, nourishing, plant based meals covered in sweet and smoky barbecue sauce. I know, I know. Meat and poultry is the traditional form of barbecue, but isn’t the best part of barbecue the sauce? All you need other than that, is a vehicle for the sauce, and in this case, it’s spaghetti squash. With the same look and texture as pulled pork, pulled strands of roasted spaghetti squash tossed with a clean, healthy bbq sauce is the perfect sandwich filling. For some extra flavor, roasted rings of sweet onion go on top. Plus more bbq sauce, obviously. And that’s it. Simple, flavorful, health-supportive bbq, just in time for warm summer nights.
While this recipe is simple, there are several health-supportive elements to love. Here’s a quick rundown….
Spaghetti Squash is a low carb, low calorie food that contains almost all essential vitamins and minerals. An essential vitamin or mineral is one that is required by the body but not produced by the body, and therefore needs to be ingested. Eating a wide variety of whole and clean foods, particularly plant-based foods like spaghetti squash, is the best way to give your body all essential vitamins and minerals. Spaghetti squash also contains a small amount of fiber, an essential component of healthy digestion and weight management.
No-Sugar-Added BBQ Sauce, like my 5-minute recipe (get it here), eliminates refined sugars while using all natural, organic apple juice to add sweetness. Apple cider vinegar, another component of this sauce, is well known for its health benefits including blood sugar regulation and antibacterial/antibiotic properties.
Organic Whole Wheat Buns are my choice for any sandwich or burger the requires a bun. Whole wheat breads are made with whole wheat flour rather than using traditional white flour. A whole wheat variety indicates that the wheat grains used to make the flour retained the darker outer layer, instead of white flour wheat grains which have been stripped of the fiber-rich outer layer. Fiber is an incredibly important nutrient for efficient and healthy digestion, and choosing whole wheat is a great way to add more fiber to your diet. Why organic? Because I adhere to a clean eating lifestyle, I look for organic varieties of all the packaged foods I eat, especially when it comes to packaged breads. An organic label indicates higher quality ingredients and a company’s commitment to providing customers with a high quality product. Additionally, in my experience, organic packaged goods have far fewer ingredients which is important for a clean eating regimen.
Vegan BBQ Spaghetti Squash Sliders with Roasted Onion Rings
Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 1 hr 15 minutes
1 large spaghetti squash
sea salt, fine grain
1 large yellow or white onion
1.5 cups BBQ Sauce (get my healthy 5-minute BBQ sauce recipe here)
4-6 whole wheat buns (6 sliders or 4 standard, organic preferred)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut spaghetti squash in half, length-wise. Rub each cut side with a teaspoon of oil and a big pinch of salt. Place face down on lined baking sheet. Set aside.
Slice onions into rings, about 1/2″ think. Remove outer ring (the papery layer). Keep rings grouped together in discs. Brush each disc with oil and season with a small pinch of salt. Place on baking sheet with squash. Bake for 40-50 minutes until squash is super tender and onions are soft. Flip onions half way through cooking and remove before squash if browning too much. When squash is finished, allow to col until able to handle. They’ll cool faster if you can safely manage to flip the squash so that the cut side faces up.
When squash is cool, use a fork to remove the flesh of the squash. The “spaghetti strands” should form very easily while scraping. Remove excess moisture from squash strands by squeezing in a clean towel or allowing to rest in a colander.
For each cup of spaghetti squash, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup bbq sauce, mix well. Divide squash between buns and top with a few separated onion rings. Serve with extra sauce for topping. FYI, my squash yielded 2 hefty cups of squash, once excess water was removed.