Need a healthy, easy meal that doesn’t take much prep work? Toss some spaghetti squash and some frozen meatballs in your slow cooker and bam. Insta-dinner.
Confession time. I really struggle with this low carb thing. Not for me, of course. I am fully on the low carb bandwagon and I don’t find it a hardship to eat this way. But for my family, it isn’t quite so simple. I have 3 hungry children and a very tall, VERY hungry husband. Simply put, I can’t always keep up with the demand. They devour my creations quickly and I am always left wondering where that huge batch of muffins or bread or pancakes went. I double a lot of my casserole recipes, thinking we will have tons of leftovers, and it barely stretches beyond one meal. I would very much love to make everything they ate from scratch but that simply isn’t practical. And I would love to have them fully on a grain-free diet, but we are not quite there. I sometimes have to rely on convenience foods, but I try to make smart choices about what those foods are.
Frozen meatballs seems like such a shoo-in for low carb convenience, don’t they? I mean, meatballs. Balls made out of meat. And my kids love them. But I have stood there so many times in the frozen food aisle, astounded at the carbs in ready-made meatballs. Sometimes up to 10 grams in a serving. Sounds to me like there is more bread than meat in those balls. Of course, they aren’t gluten-free and they usually have plenty of other fillers and junk in there too. So when Al Fresco asked if I’d like to try their frozen chicken meatballs, I was a bit skeptical. But I was very pleasantly surprised to see that they are completely gluten-free and that the ingredient list does not read like a who’s who of food additives. Definitely a more viable option for my hungry crowd. The Jalapeño & Pepper Jack are the lowest carb option, with only 2 g per serving (please note that sugar is on the ingredient list in a very small amount).
As for this recipe, well I don’t take credit for the idea. I saw it on my friend Shawn’s blog, I Wash, You Dry, and I knew I had to try it for myself. But not with canned pasta sauce because that’s usually full of extra sugar and carbs I don’t need. Instead, I made my instant marinara sauce: crushed tomatoes pureed in the blender with garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Then I popped it all into my slow cooker and let that machine do the work for me. It was an incredibly simple dish with all the great flavours of a comfort meal. At just under 10 g of carbs, it’s a little higher carb than some of my other recipes, but much of that comes from the tomatoes and the spaghetti squash. And when I am on a tight timeline to feed a hungry family, that works for me.
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 16 gluten-free chicken meatballs such as Al Fresco
- 2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
- Cut spaghetti squash in half, crosswise. Place in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker, cut-side down.
- In a processor or blender, combine tomatoes, salt, garlic powder, pepper and oregano. Puree until smooth. Pour into bottom of slow cooker.
- Place meatballs over tomatoes, around spaghetti squash. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- Using tongs and kitchen gloves, remove spaghetti squash from slow cooker. Scoop out seeds and discard. Scoop out flesh into a sieve or colander and let drain a few minutes to reduce moisture. Transfer to a bowl and toss with butter or olive oil.
- Divide between 4 plates and top with sauce and meatballs.
Total fat: 13.52g
Calories from fat: 121
Total dietary fiber: 1.92g
Will this recipe reheat nicely? I’m looking to making one recipe in bulk to eat for a week but only have a microwave at work to reheat it, wondering if it still tastes just as good!
Yes, but go gently on the spaghetti squash, it can get a bit mushy. I might reheat the meatballs separately since they will take longer.
Abeer Rizvi says
I only recently started eating spaghetti squash and I am looking for more ways to enjoy it. This looks delish!
Heather Seeley says
That is so great that you can cook the squash with the meatballs! Makes it so easy!
I love this healthier alternative!
I haven’t seen the Al Fresco chicken meatballs yet, but I am familiar with their yummy sausage. My youngest is gluten-free so the meatballs are definitely something I’ll be watching for.
Krissy Allori says
My family loves spaghetti squash! This looks like a great recipe to try!
Can I make my own meatballs out of ground chicken?
Made this tonight with our favorite sauce from the Farmer’s Market – it was a hit. I love spaghetti squash, my family not so much. But everyone was enjoying this tonight! Thanks for the recipe!
I have one spaghetti squash left from last year’s garden and this looks like the perfect way to use it. Yummy! Thank you so much! 🙂
Michael Haveri says
This was amazing and, a nice change from pasta. I make my own sauce that is loaded with basil and diced tomatoes. I also added fresh portabello mushrooms. I really like the gluten free chicken meatballs. I jabbed Squash with holes and tossed in nuker for 15 minutes prior to slow cooker, it was easier to slice and seemed to dry up most of the water. Thank You this is a regular meal @ my place from now on Really Delicious!
I have made a similar dish but never in the slow cooker. I make my meatballs with ground turkey, chopped red onion, basil, oregano, thyme parsley and grated parmesan in place of bread crumbs. They are super easy and I bake them in the oven. Thought I would share as a gluten free alternative for you. I am looking forward to making this in the slow cooker.