Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

Gluten free, Atkins, South Beach, Paleo…

Even if you haven’t personally been on a low carb diet, you’ve almost certainly had to deal with someone who has.

I’m not hatin’: the evidence still backs up these diets as effective.  If you want to lose weight, lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure, then you could do worse than this route.

Then walked in the beast of them all: the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).

It’s not only the most restrictive, but it’s intention is unlike all the others: people follow the SCD in an attempt to manage symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.

A member of the SCD camp, and one of my most favorite people in the entire world, came to spend a week with me. This eliminated the possibility of dining out (imagine no restaurants while on vacation? in NYC of all places??), but it did result in some creative ‘problem solving’ dinner experiences.

The SCD limits nearly all carbs. Specifically, disaccharides and polysaccharides (chains of simple sugars) are avoided in preference to monosaccharides. The idea is that an excess of carbs in the intestines, and the resulting overgrowth of microbes that feast on these carbs, contributes to GI symptoms. Through limiting the quantity of carbs and the energy the body spends on breaking them down and absorbing them, intestinal balance is hopefully restored.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet
BANNED ALLOWED
all grains meats
most dairy eggs
starchy veggies non-starchy veggies
beans & legumes low sugar fruit
anything with added sugar
(why does everything have sugar added??)
honey

Monosaccharides: the most basic units of carbohydrates (molecules of carbon, hydrogen, & oxygen)
•     Glucose, Fructose, and Galactose

Disaccharides: two linked monosaccharides
•     Sucrose = Glucose + Fructose (table sugar)
•     Lactose = Glucose + Galactose (milk)
•     Maltose = Glucose + Glucose (product of digestion)

Polysaccharides: chains of 3+ monosaccharides
•     starch (corn, potatoes, rice)
•     cellulose (dietary fiber: wheat bran, apple skin, spinach, etc.)
•     glycogen (the storage molecule of carbohydrates in the body)

Pan to my new favorite thing: Sage Rosemary Walnut Spread. Imagine something between pesto and nut butter. And fortunately for my houseguest, it’s SCD legal.

Crazy Go Nuts makes the spread, a part of a whole line of flavored walnuts and walnut butters. Their savory flavors are particularly interesting (Garlic Parmesan, Buffalo, and Sage Rosemary, of course), but the sweet ones are also fantastic. I just straight ate a jar of the Orange with a spoon. Don’t judge.

I tried the Sage Rosemary spread as a pesto-like sauce paired with spaghetti squash. The result was intensely rich and creamy, and absolutely delicious. Surprisingly, it was much closer to an Alfredo sauce than pesto in both mouth feel and flavor. I’ll definitely make this recipe again, even without the confines of the SCD.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp (peeled, deveined, & tails removed)
  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 lb)
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 oz butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup Crazy Go Nuts Sage & Rosemary Walnut Spread
  • 1/3 cup water
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Microwave the squash 5-10 minutes to soften slightly. Cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds. Place in a baking pan cut side up and roast till tender (about 40 minutes).
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and salt and pepper; sauté until softened. Add the walnut spread, shrimp, and water, stirring continuously to mix and prevent burning. Cook until shrimp is cooked through.
  4. Serve sauce mixture inside halved squash. Or serve squash, scooped out with a fork to “shred” into noodles, topped with the shrimp mixture. Or mix squash flesh into the sauce in the skillet before serving.
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Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

Whitefish

Show up as early as you can get yourself to drag out of bed.

Wander around the industrial section of Greenpoint at dawn.

Sneak into the unmarked, graffiti-ed door, looking behind you as if you were trying to throw the mobster trailing you off your scent.

Buy pastrami lox and whitefish from the no-nonsense, lab-coat clad fishmonger – after much sampling, of course.

Rendezvous with the friend responsible for the bagels + cream cheese.

Plot your next Acme Smoked Fish heist between ravenous bites.

Whitefish Salad Ingredients

Salad Building

Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

The following recipe is a variation of this recipe by Bobby Flay.

Whitefish Salad

  • 3/4 cup good-quality mayonnaise (I used olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds smoked whitefish, skinned, boned and flaked
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bagels, for serving (I used baked spaghetti squash)
  • Pickled Red Onions, for serving, recipe below

Pickled Red Onions:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Whisk together the mayonnaise (or olive oil), lemon zest and juice until combined. Add the whitefish, celery and onions, and gently mix until combined; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pickled Red Onions:
Combine the vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Put the onions in a medium bowl, pour the vinegar mixture over and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours before serving.

Seafood Curry

Seafood Curry

This fantastic bowl of food was made using this Nigella Lawson recipe as inspiration. It’s from the “TV Dinners” episode of her show, and although it is overall a fairly simple dish to prepare, any dish that involves shelling and deveining shrimp isn’t in on my list of quick & easy. I’ll try pumpkin instead of butternut squash next time for a more carb heavy, filling wintry main.

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
1 1/2 cups fish stock (I used broth from boiling the shrimp shells for about an hour)
3 tbsps fish sauce
2 tbsps sugar (I left this out)
3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into 1/3’s and bruised with the flat of a knife (I used a tsp of ground lemongrass)
3 lime leaves, stalked and cut into strips (I couldn’t find this in my grocery store)
1/2 tsp turmeric (I forgot this)
2 1/4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into large, bite-sized chunks
1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 lb peeled raw shrimp
bok choy or any other green vegetables of your choice (I used peas)
juice of 1 lime
cilantro

I added:
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
4 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 medium white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, julienned

Skim the thick creamy top off the can of coconut milk and put it into a large saucepan with the curry paste, over medium heat. Beat the cream and paste together until combined. (Here I added the onion, then the garlic and ginger). Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil and then add the squash (and red pepper). Cook on a fast simmer until the squash is tender, anywhere from  5-15 minutes.

You can cook the curry up until this part in advance, maybe leaving the squash with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you’re about 5 minutes from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

So, to the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and shrimp (if you’re using frozen shrimp they’ll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and shrimp have cooked through, which shouldn’t take more than 3 to 4 minutes, stir in any green vegetable you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits – and tamp down with a wood spoon. When the bok choy is wilted, or other green vegetable is cooked, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat and pour the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the cilantro; the point is that the cilantro goes in just before serving. Serve with more chopped cilantro for people to add their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice (I used brown rice).