Thursday, July 17, 2014

Squash Casserole

As many of you know, I'm pregnant with my second child.  Like with my first pregnancy, I developed gestational diabetes around my 25th week.  As I have mentioned in the past, there are a lot of misconceptions about gestational diabetes; mainly that is caused by something that the mother has done (or not done).  This can lead to a lot of guilty thoughts when a woman is first diagnosed.  The truth is, many cases of gestational diabetes are due to genetics.  I live a very healthy lifestyle: my diet is made up of nutritious and unprocessed foods, I exercise five times a week, and I maintain a healthy weight (and healthy weight gain during pregnancy).  Yet the hormones in my body go crazy when I get pregnant, and my placenta starts having trouble regulating insulin, and unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to prevent it.  What I can do, however, is stay on a very strict diet during my pregnancy, that allows my body to handle the diabetes without medicine.  I'm not going to lie: it's really hard to be on a rigid diet when you are in your third trimester; a time when you are starving and just want to eat what you want to eat, when you want to eat.  Instead, I have to eat a certain amount of carbs (not too much, not too little) on a very strict schedule (every 2-3 hours, no earlier, no later).  

Just like with my first pregnancy, I became despondent when receiving my diagnosis.  What on earth can I eat for the next few months that won't be a chore?  I had been enjoying a nice variety of comfort-type of foods this pregnancy, which unfortunately tend to have one thing in common:  lots of carbs.  Anything with breads, pastas, potatoes, or flours are almost all eliminated (even whole wheat versions).  While having a particularly great pity party, my sweet husband starting googling different low carb recipes to give me ideas.  After ten solid minutes of the standard: "roasted asparagus", "roasted brussel sprouts", "sautéed mushrooms", "sautéed spinach", he called out "squash casserole".  I stopped him immediately and gaped at him.  Squash casserole?!  Squash casserole!  I can have squash casserole!  Squash casserole happens to be one of my favorite comfort foods, dating back to my childhood.  My mom would routinely make it, and it was always one of my absolute favorites.  But you know how it is with mom-food right?  It's almost impossible to replicate. Moms have this magical touch to make your food extra delicious.  Despite this, I spent thirty minutes on the phone with my mom, relentlessly interrogating her for every detail of her recipe. Unfortunately, typical mom-food style, she doesn't follow an exact recipe, but just throws everything whimsically together to create her masterpiece.    Still, I gave it my best try, and I think it turned out pretty darn good!  It was cheesy, hot, and comfort food-y, and made me forget for a meal that I was on a strict diet.  It quickly dried up my self-pity tears.  

Thank the heavens for mom-food.  

Squash Casserole
Serves 6

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 Vidalia Onion, diced
4 Cups of Chopped Yellow Squash
1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan
1 Cup Extra Sharp Cheddar, freshly grated
1/4 Cup Milk
2 Eggs, beaten
Optional: Additional Cheddar & Parmesan for topping


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a glass 2 quart casserole dish.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter.  Saute the onion and yellow squash until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Season with garlic powder, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

3.  Remove from heat, and use a potato masher to mash the squash (see picture below for reference).  Allow it to cool for a few minutes.

4.  In a large bowl, mix together the egg, cheese, and milk.  Spoon in the squash and stir, until it is all completely mixed.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Top with additional cheese, if using.

5.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Cut into 6 squares and serve.


Serving Size:  1/6th of Casserole
Calories:  194
Fat: 15
Carbs:  6
Protein:  11

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