spaghetti squash pasta with avocado cream sauce.

Some deliciously green not-pasta pasta for St. Patrick's Day! Happy celebrating!

Tempeh on Sq Pasta close
A friend of mine is training for an endurance run right now, and has noticed - as many people do - that her weight is going up and up... despite all the energy she's exerting on long runs. The trainer she's working with recommended upping the carbs: after all, you need more energy when you're running consistently, right?
Eek. Two things here that are problematic for the weight maintenance puzzle, and particularly frustrating if part of your reason for taking up an endurance sport is to maintain your weight. 
Long, steady-state exercise, like running, cycling on flat roads or low-impact aerobics, are actually not great for weight loss. Why? Exercise causes the body stress (good stress, mind you), but stress nonetheless. The body interprets this as follows: "Aaaa! Wooly mammoth! Run away! Keep running!". When in this flight-state, it will conserve energy as much as possible (read: hanging onto whatever extra fat stores we're holding onto, because it doesn't know when the next break will be. Or if there will be food when we stop running.) Steady-state cardio tells the body to hang onto things, not burn it off, and doesn't increase our metabolic rate (read: the number of energy-creating, calorie-using mitochondria in our muscle cells, as strength-based exercise or HIIT activities do.) 
This is evolution and biology working in our favor: if we're going to need to run long distances, we better hang onto our fuel and use sparingly so that it lasts longer. 
Okay. So that's part 1. 
Part two is the advice to up the carbs. Eek again, especially when the suggestion includes eating refined carbs like bagels, power bars, chocolate milk (tons of refined sugar), toast, etc.
Refined carbs = increase in blood sugar.
Increase in blood sugar = increase in insulin to help cells take up that sugar and use it for fuel.
Increase in insulin = increase in the body's efforts to store fat.
Insulin is a fat-storage promoting hormone, and much like endurance running, it tells the body to hang onto this fuel while it's available (who knows when the next time this kind of energy-dense food might be available.)
So we have a system working to conserve fuel and food sources that encourage us to hang onto that fuel as efficiently as possible.
The result? Quick weight gain, especially if it's not counterbalanced by cross-training, HIIT or strength-based exercise. 
(To the carb point: yes, you do need carbs if you're doing long-distance running. NO, they do not - and probably should not - come from white flour.)
We can actually get all of the carbohydrates we need from vegetables and whole grains (not whole wheat bread, all -- it's just white flour masquerading as something healthful). In fact, sweet potatoes, squash and carrots are some of the most useable forms of carbohydrates, along with cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and other dense leafy greens. 
Tempeh on Sq Pasta 1
This squash pasta - like this Spaghetti Squash Bolognese - is a great way to work in ample carbs in a meal, and generally won't upset your tummy if you tend to be sensitive to grains, gluten, etc. It's so simple to make and a really easy way to refuel after a workout (or indulge when you want pasta but don't want the bellyache.)
We've found a great place near our apartment in SF that has beautiful organic squash much of the year, so this is quickly becoming a weeknight dinner go-to. 
Simply halve and de-seed the squash and place it face-down in a couple of inches of water in a pot. Steam is for 5-8 minutes until semi-tender, then use a fork to pull the strands of magical squash 'noodles' from the skin. SO simple. 
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The sauce on this - an avocado cream sauce - is just as easy: a few pulses in the blender and you have a nutrient-dense, extra creamy dressing, which incidentally is really good mixed into quinoa or poured over fresh greens. 
We tossed in some extra spinach for St. Patrick's Day, obvs, and topped with half a batch of tahini-glazed tempeh
Carb-splosion? Totally: but in the best way. No bagel hangover for you... which means a better run tomorrow, right? 
amy be well signature 
spaghetti squash pasta with vegan avocado cream sauce
Serves 2
A gluten-free pasta alternative with a way-too-creamy garlicky vegan cream sauce.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 1 batch Tahini Glazed Tempeh {recipe in post} - optional
  2. 1 small spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  3. **Avocado Cream Sauce
  4. 1 small avocado
  5. 2 tbsp water
  6. 2 tbsp almond milk
  7. 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  8. salt + pepper to taste
  9. 3 handfuls baby spinach
  1. Follow the directions to marinate and bake the tempeh (about 20 minutes), then move on to step #2.
  2. In a food processor, combine sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Set squash halves face down in a large pot. Add 1 1/2 inches of water, cover and bring to a boil. Let these steam for about 8 minutes until slightly tender.
  4. In a another skillet, add a few tablespoons of water and spinach. Cover and steam on low until wilted.
  5. Use gloves to remove squash from the pot - dry them off with a towel - and scrape the insides out into a bowl using a fork.
  6. Add avocado sauce and spinach to the squash pasta and toss to coat.
  7. Transfer pasta servings to plates, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
  1. The extra sauce is awesome as a salad dressing or to coat quinoa.
From The Ground Up Wellness
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Posted in dinner, gluten-free recipes, health coaching info, homepage featured, recipes

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