This Chinese Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry is a great homemade substitute when you’re craving a Chinese noodle dish but don’t want all the MSG and oils they undoubtedly fry in. This dish is healthy, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, nut-free, grain-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, legume-free, dairy-free, soy-free, msg-free, refined sugar-free and vegetable oil-free. Allergy-friendly too.
The irony of posting a Chinese recipe on Cinco de Mayo. What can I say? I’m a rebel.
Like my Chinese Cauliflower Rice, this dish is sure to avoid any potential Chinese restaurant syndrome. Don’t know about you, but I like to KNOW what goes into the food I’m eating!
The faux noodles from the spaghetti squash actually look like little Chinese noodles. They also resemble angel hair pasta. And the texture is not that far off, especially in a dish like this where the vegetables and flavor of the dish overall capture the majority of your attention, distracting from the less than traditional pasta noodles.
Stir fries are the perfect way to pack a super healthy, healing meal into your schedule; they’re quick, easy and loaded with nutrients!
I’m not the biggest fan of spaghetti squash.
Now, either you’re nodding along with me (why are you looking at a spaghetti squash recipe in the first place?) or you’re gaping at me like I’m some slimy, alienistic creature.
Just listen. I’d take zoodles any day over spaghetti squash when I’m making pasta. The texture feels more like traditional pasta noodles to me and the noodles have practically no taste, so the flavor of the pasta sauce isn’t altered (it’s really able to “pop”, ya know? all that delicious Italian tomato creaminess).
My mom and brothers were obsessed with angel hair pasta a few years back. I never really boarded that train… the pasta always seemed to get mushy and the noodles were all weird and small (sorry if this is turning you off, just keep reading). Maybe that’s why I prefer the long, thicker zucchini noodles to the fine-haired spaghetti squash variety.
But this dish wouldn’t be the same with zoodles. Sure, it’d probably be good. But the spaghetti squash pasta reminds me of little Chinese noodles. Hence the name. Besides, it wouldn’t be Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry if you didn’t use spaghetti squash, amirite?
Spaghetti squash has a subtly sweet taste. Normally it throws me off, but in this recipe it just works. The sweet flavor of the thin baby noodles pairs well with the Chinese flavored vegetable stir fry. It blends and balances out and pleases your taste buds.
This sweet (literally – spag squash noods are tots sweet tasting) Paleo Chinese stir fry will blow your healthy taste buds through the roof (not literally – rocketing your tongue through the roof of your mouth would be quite painful).
What’s with that saying, anyway? What could possibly be appealing about a dish that blows your taste buds through the roof of your mouth? Ouch.
Transfer your thoughts to more appealing mental images, like Chinese stir fries and salty aromas, fiddling with chopsticks before throwing them aside and digging in with a fork like the American you are (or aren’t?), flavorful soups to eat beside your vegetable dish…
We’re going to turn that hard yellow squash into an amazing Chinese pasta dish. Just you wait.
No soy sauce, no coconut aminos, no tamari..
Only salt and pepper (and garlic!) to flavor.
My kitchen has seen a lot of spaghetti squash lately (despite my previous dislike towards this particular vegetable, I’ve been warming up to it… the cold pre-winter weather down here can use all the warm I have to give!). After success with these Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns – that are paleo, vegan, potato-free, nut-free, grain-free, oil-free by the way – I found myself loading another into my grocery cart. (Really awesome spaghetti squash dessert recipe in our near future!)
Let’s just say I believe in second chances? Or that first impressions don’t define a vegetable.
Like, once I cut into an avocado only to find mold crawling along the inside. Sorry for the insanely disturbing mental image. And once upon a time I didn’t like tomatoes. That was before my tastebuds acclimated to healthy eating and real foods. Plus, now I know how to prepare them and pair them with foods that compliment their taste.
The point: just because you have one bad experience with a food (whether it be a fruit, vegetable, nut, or other) doesn’t mean you should give up on it entirely. Don’t try something once, decide you don’t like it and throw it on your Never Again food list.
In whatever cooking career you’ve got going, whether it be mom-feeding-hungry-kids or culinary-school-attendee, your bound to attempt at least one dish that fails completely. Doesn’t mean you should give up. Pick up those vegetables and transform them into delicious awesomeness with sheer will! (And the aid of recipes such as this Chinese stir fry).
Did this inspire you to pick up a food you previously disliked and give it a second chance? Forgiveness and all that. Are you even listening?
Don’t know why I’m talking about food fails. Before last week, I was never too keen on spaghetti squash but not due to bad experience. And this recipe turned out marvelous and Chinese-y and noodle-y the very first time I made it!
Let’s talk about the more positive aspects of life. Instead of the fails, let’s focus on the successes (hint: this stir fry!).
And let’s talk about how healthy it is.
This dish is loaded with vegetables. Packed with those nutrient powerhoses (powerhoses? hey, powerhouses is way overused… just like when I called my blueberry cupcakes antioxidant sunballs and the blackberry macaroons antioxidant powerballs… what’s next? antioxidant fireballs?).
Basically, they all mean the same thing: really healthy.
Healthy dinner recipes that are both paleo and vegan and surprisingly hard to come by. Paleos sure love their meat and eggs. Vegans love their grains and legumes (and refined sugar and vegetables oils are vegan-approved as well). Here is a recipe where these two diets meet in the middle. The best of both worlds (not to quote the beast that shall not be named).
No animal products. No grains or legumes. A dinner that is both paleo and vegan friendly.
(Though, you can certainly add whatever you want to suit your dietary lifestyle: vegans, feel free to add beans or rice to this stir fry: paleos, add meat if you wish.)
It’s vegetable-based. Everyone can rally around the vegetables.
A huge misconception is that healthy food tastes bad. I cannot think of a statement more false.
I may think a salad tastes wonderful and refreshing; you may hate raw spinach. But there are plenty of healthy vegetable-based recipes that are insanely tasty, to people accustomed to healthy eating and eating out alike.
Sweetening healthy desserts with bananas and dates and honey is seriously just as good as white refined sugar (if not better). Honey can get things sweet, trust me. And a mega chocolatey dessert is a mega chocolatey dessert whether it’s made from eggs/butter/milk/sugar or honey/coconut/bananas.
This paleo vegan Chinese stir fry was able to satiate my brother’s Chinese-crazed taste buds. As a child he was obsessed with American Chinese food (that probably tasted so great because of the MSG, refined sugars, artificial additives and butter/vegetable oils).
His first comment when sampling this spaghetti squash stir fry was:
“This tastes like Chinese food.”
Considering his love for Chinese food, the translation probably looks something like:
“This is f***ing awesome!”
Well… does your kid like vegetables? This one’s a bit of a stretch. I love it, my brothers love it, but the little guy? Eh. (He doesn’t know what’s good!) But for real, it (yes, I’m referring to the eight year old as an it because it has no sense of good taste) doesn’t even like avocados, so does that seriously even count?
This Chinese dish might very well be kid approved if your kiddo has more reasonable taste buds.
In any case, the little monster with taste buds that disgrace our family ate this when I bribed him with the promise of banana nut muffins (which are healthy too, but he doesn’t know that!) upon the clearing of his plate. Unbeknownst to him, there
may have been definitely was some zucchini snuck into the muffins that followed his healthy vegetable-centered dinner.
Don’t you just love coercing your kid to eat vegetables with the promise of more vegetables in disguise? Muahaha.
I love dinners where vegetables are the focus. This Chinese spaghetti squash stir fry is a vegetable fiesta.
And it’s a great dish for restricted diets across the board: paleo approved, vegan friendly, nut-free, grain-free and gluten-free. (And free of vegetables oils, refined sugar, MSG and all the other bad stuff in common Chinese food.) Pretty allergy friendly and acceptable all around.
My brother and I were talking about Chinese food yesterday and he mentioned how it tastes so good yet was one of the most unhealthy cuisines of food (Americanized Chinese food, at least). He said it in the most dismal, longing voice; Chinese food is his favorite, yet it’s one of the unhealthiest. This dish, however, may be Chinese-inspired but it evades the unhealthy stereotype that birthed the disorder known as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.
Six parts vegetables to one part fungus sauteed in a bit of coconut oil with a dash of salt and pepper. One hundred percent healthy.
The perfect paleo vegan dinner or side dish to serve along with some healthy Cauliflower Chinese rice (also paleo, vegan, nut and grain-free).
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 head broccoli
- 1 zucchini
- 1 pack white button mushrooms (8oz)
- 4 cloves garlic
- salt & pepper
- coconut oil, to sautee
- Optional add-ins: cauliflower florets, yellow squash, fresh cilantro or parsley, water chestnuts, baby corn, bamboo shoots, etc.
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half and bake in the oven at 400 F for 40 minutes, cut side up, until the meat can be easily scraped out. (Or you can precook your spaghetti squash, store the meat in the fridge and pop it out when you need to use it; it makes this dish pull together super quick.)
- Scrape the spaghetti squash noodles into a bowl and set aside.
- Chop the onion, carrot and zucchini into small pieces. Slice the mushrooms. Break the broccoli up into small florets. Mince the garlic.
- Heat a skillet on medium-high heat with a bit of coconut oil. Add chopped onions and cook for 10 minutes. The onions should turn clearish/translucent (if they brown a little that’s perfect).
- Add the carrot, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic. Stir around.
- Cover skillet with a top and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables turn soft. The mushrooms should release juices, which helps the other vegetables cook.
- Add the spaghetti squash noodles to the stir fry. Mix around.
- Add salt and pepper to taste (and any other spices/herbs using).
- Serve warm, immediately, once the vegetables are soft enough for your liking.
I used a large yellow onion but white onions, sweet onions and red/purple onions would all work.
The spaghetti squash can be cooked ahead of time and the noodles stored in the fridge for whenever you are ready to use it.
While this stir fry can be stored in the fridge after cooking, a better option for a super quick assembly would be the precook the spaghetti squash (read above) but cook the rest of the stir fry immediately before eating so your vegetables don’t get mushy while sitting in the fridge.
Are you a fan of Chinese food? How does this compare to the MSG infused restaurant dishes?
Sometimes healthier alternatives aren’t quite like the real deal but at least they can satiate cravings and be delicious in their own right! Instead of Americanized Chinese food, opt for this Veganized Paleo-ized Chinese food alternative that your body will enjoy as much as your taste buds.