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In honor of February, which is National Heart Health Month, I bring you this Skinny Spaghetti Squash Chicken Alfredo. It is a lower-carb, healthier dinner that tastes truly satisfying. It is much lighter than carb-heavy pasta Alfredo recipes which typically use a ton of butter. The secret to a lighter chicken Alfredo is Mazola® Corn Oil. A clinical study showed Mazola Corn Oil reduces cholesterol 2x more than extra virgin olive oil. To learn more about this claim, visit Mazola.com.
Mazola Corn Oil is an all-purpose, cholesterol-free cooking oil that is a smart heart-healthy* choice for your family. *See Mazola.com for more information on the relationship between corn oil and heart health. It has a variety of uses include baking, grilling, sautéing, stir frying, or mixing up a marinade or dressing.
With so many uses, it's no wonder Mazola Corn Oil is the perfect choice for this recipe. To make a lightened up version of Chicken Alfredo Pasta, I made three easy swaps:
- I used spaghetti squash instead of pasta for the "noodles." Spaghetti squash has a great texture and a nice "bite" to it that feels as satisfying as pasta. I prefer it over zucchini "zoodles" any day! Spaghetti squash is low-carb and it's a vegetable! Win win.
- I made a homemade "skinny Alfredo sauce" instead of a store-bought jar of Alfredo sauce that is typically loaded with fat, too much sodium, added sugars, and preservatives. There's no need for any of those things when it's so easy to make a lighter Alfredo sauce at home.
- I used Mazola Corn Oil instead of butter to make the Alfredo sauce and to cook the chicken. Corn oil is great for searing meats such as chicken because it has a high smoke point of 450°F, which means you can cook at a high temperature without negatively affecting the food's flavor and nutritional value.
Skinny Alfredo sauce
Alfredo sauce typically uses rich half and half, or sometimes even heavy whipping cream. I'm not going to lie, of course that is delicious. But you can make a very good Alfredo sauce that passes the taste test with much lighter ingredients.
The secret to a lighter Alfredo sauce is:
- Skipping the butter (use Mazola Corn oil instead to saute the garlic)
- Using milk instead of half and half or heavy cream (whole milk, 2%, or 1% milk tastes the best. Skim milk is a little too thin to make a good Alfredo sauce)
- Parmesan. It has LOTS of flavor and a little goes a long way to making a tasty sauce. Use a freshly grated Parmesan (either from the store, or grate it yourself) for the best flavor and texture
- Using chicken broth to add flavor instead of rich and heavy half and half
Making skinny Alfredo sauce at home is not any more difficult than making regular Alfredo at home. Here's how you do it:
- Start by sauteing lots of garlic and extracting all of its wonderful flavor into the oil
- Add a splash of chicken broth and some flour to make a "faux roux" - this will make the Alfredo sauce thicken when you add milk and chicken broth. If you are avoiding gluten, use corn starch instead
- Add the chicken broth, milk, and Parmesan cheese, season with salt and herbs, then stir together and allow to simmer for a few minutes until it thickens
If you've never made a lighter Alfredo sauce at home, you've got to give this a try.
How to make spaghetti squash chicken Alfredo
You start by cooking spaghetti squash. You can do this several ways: cut it in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, then either roast it in the oven at 375F for 30 minutes, microwave it for 10-20 minutes in a large dish with an inch of water, or cook it in the pressure cooker (follow your pressure cooker's instructions, but it typically takes ~7 minutes, with a quick steam release).
Roasting spaghetti squash is my favorite way to cook it because it brings out a nice flavor in the squash and never gets mushy. See more details on how to roast spaghetti squash in my Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Alfredo recipe here.
To make this a quick and easy dinner recipe that is ready in just 30 minutes, I always cook the spaghetti squash the night before. It literally takes no effort to prepare it the night before as I am cleaning up after dinner, and then I have spaghetti squash ready to be used the next day!
The next step for this recipe is to cook the chicken. Slice the chicken breast thinly, season it with salt and Italian seasoning, and cook in Mazola Corn oil over high heat until it is browned and fully cooked.
Then combine the spaghetti squash, cooked chicken, skinny Alfredo sauce, top with a little mozzarella cheese and some grape tomatoes for a pop of color and some extra nutrients, and bake until everything is heated through.
This is a super easy recipe that tastes so decadent and delicious. It keeps us on track of our goal to eat more "good" fats that come from plants, more lean meat, and less butter.
The good fats, such as corn oil, are unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Did you know that corn oil actually has 5x more polyunsaturated fats compared to olive oil??? Mazola Corn oil has more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils - 4x more than olive oil and 1.5x more than canola oil. Clinical studies indicate that when consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, plant sterols can help reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. A clinical study showed Mazola Corn Oil reduces cholesterol 2x more than extra virgin olive oil. To learn more about this claim, visit Mazola.com.
If you're looking for more recipes using spaghetti squash, try these reader favorites:
- Spaghetti squash with tomato and basil
- Veggie-loaded brunch flatbread
- Spaghetti squash shrimp Alfredo
And if you're looking for more hearty, comforting healthy recipes, try these:
- Sweet potato chicken soup with black beans
- Ethiopian-spiced chicken stew
- Baked butternut squash with chickpeas casserole
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later! Check out Mazola for more delicious recipe ideas.
- 1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 lb), cooked and cooled
- 3 tablespoons Mazola Corn Oil, divided, plus more to brush the baking pan
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk (1%, 2%, or whole milk)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 2 oz), divided
- 1.5 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley and/or basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400F. Use a fork to scrape out all the spaghetti squash "noodles" form the squash. Brush a 2.5-3 quart baking dish with Mazola corn oil.
Skinny Alfredo sauce
- In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons Mazola corn oil. Add the minced garlic, and saute for 2-3 minutes over low-medium heat, making sure the garlic does not burn.
- Add a splash of the chicken broth, then add 3 tablespoons of flour while constantly whisking, to prevent clumps. Continue whisking as you add the rest of the chicken broth, milk, and about 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bring to a simmer, and allow to summer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Stir in the fresh herbs. Carefully taste the sauce and see if it needs any salt (it might not, thanks to the chicken broth and Parmesan cheese). Set aside.
Pan-seared Chicken (make this while the sauce is simmering)
1. Season the thinly sliced chicken generously with Italian seasoning and salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of Mazola corn oil in a large skillet and add the chicken, making sure that it is in one layer. Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken browns a little. Stir the chicken, and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove from heat.
Spaghetti Squash Chicken Alfredo
1. In a large heat-proof bowl, combine the spaghetti squash "noodles," skinny Alfredo sauce, and cooked chicken. Mix well. Transfer this to the oiled baking dish. Top with halved grape tomatoes and the remaining cheese (1/4 cup grated Parmesan and 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese).
2. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through and bubbling. Serve warm.
- I recommend using freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead of the packaged grated Parmesan cheese. It has the most flavor!
- I recommend using a combination of fresh parsley and basil leaves, if you have both available. In a pinch, dried parsley and basil will work - about 1 teaspoon each is a good start
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 421Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 838mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 46g
The nutritional information displayed is just an estimate and will vary depending on the actual ingredients and brands used and the exact amounts used. Please consult with a dietitian or nutritionist if you are actually tracking nutritional information for health reasons.