Broccoli and cheese spaghetti squash casserole

In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of meal planning for athletes with a few of my helpful meal prep tips.
It's important that you do not overwhelm yourself with food prep and meal planning but instead, make the effort to plan ahead instead of always making it an afterthought.

Sometimes good intentions backfire when you try to do too much at once or have this vision of "healthy eating" that isn't practical for you right now in your nutritional journey.

Every athlete is going to have a unique starting point when it comes to meal prepping.

Perhaps you are trying to move away from always having an English muffin, egg, piece of ham and chips for dinner or you trying to break a habit of always having pasta or fast food, or eating out or a frozen meal for dinner most nights per week.

Or maybe you are in a meal prep rut and need to challenge yourself with a more complicated meal or recipe as you have been resorting to quick and easy, despite having the time, passion and energy for cooking.

With so many food blogs, magazines and articles promoting recipes, sometimes looking at perfect food pictures, a list of ingredients and many steps can be overwhelming for some athletes and it can actually take the fun away from creating a meal that you will eventually yum over.

Sometimes cooking is like a hard workout. It looks daunting at first and you assume you will fail (or you don't have the energy or time for it) but when you give an effort and the process is over, you are not only happy that you did it but you feel really great about what you accomplished.

For myself, I like to plan and prep meals that are quick and easy for me but perhaps for someone else, my meals may look complicated and time-consuming.

 When considering what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you are new to meal prepping and planning meals, don't overwhelm yourself with extremely detailed recipes or dishes that require lots of steps or extended cooking time every night of the week.

Healthy eating is much easier to accomplish when you shop, plan and prepare ahead of time.

What you make is up to you!

 Broccoli and cheese spaghetti squash casserole

Cooking time: 10 min to prep, 25-60 min to cook

1 spaghetti squash (a 7-9 inch squash should feed 2 but buy bigger if you want leftovers)
Marinara sauce
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 heads of broccoli
Cheese - sharp or cheddar (I use Cabot)

Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450°F
2. Cut squash length-wise and place cut-side down on baking sheet (sprayed with non stick spray) for 40-50 minutes. (You can also cook in microwave in 15 minutes.).
3. Steam broccoli on stove top in large pot (stems removed).
4. Use a fork to remove the seeds.
5. Drizzle olive oil (a few tsp) on bottom of a casserole dish to lightly cover.
6. Scrape squash from the shell and place into the casserole dish. (this is fun, have your kids help!)
7. Add chopped garlic, a pinch of salt/pepper and about 1/2-3/4 cup marinara sauce to cover the squash. Mix together with your fork until evenly combined. OK to add more sauce to your liking.
8. Add steamed broccoli and mix together in dish. Broccoli will fall apart but OK to leave some chunks of broccoli.
9. Top with a little Parmesan to lightly cover the top of the broccoli/squash mixture and then sprinkle on a little shredded cheese.
10. Place casserole dish on lower rack (in oven) and bake for 10-15 minutes.
Best if served warm.

Serve with your choice of protein (chicken, beef, tempeh, tofu).

I hope you yum as loud as we did!