Monday, September 29, 2014

Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa And Veggies - Vegan!

Happy Autumn everyone! Whether or not the temperatures have begun to dip where you live, there's still a certain feeling in the air. For me, it's the back-to-school rituals and the realization that Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon, that have me in the kitchen, cooking up some cozy, homey type meals.

And what says Autumn more than all the gorgeous gourds starting to fill the displays at the market? That's right, nothing!

I picked up some acorn squash and got busy in the kitchen with the little ones. These stuffed squash make a great appetizer, afternoon snack or light dinner. Basically, eat them however and whenever you like!

A quick nutrition breakdown:

Acorn Squash: One of the richest sources of the anti-inflammatory nutrients Omega-3s and beta carotene - excellent for building up a strong immune system.

Quinoa: A vegetarian source of  complete protein, quinoa contains all the essential amino acids needed for growing and repairing body tissues, as well as anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Spinach: A well-known superfood, spinach has more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer warriors.

Walnuts: The phytonutrients in walnuts help protect against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes.

Onions: Eat onions every day for cardiovascular health, to increase bone density (especially important for postmenopausal women), cancer protection and to bring down inflammation in the body.

Turmeric: Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, is being looked at as a potential treatment for an array of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diatebetes, allergies, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and other chronic diseases.

Cranberries: For a healthy cardiovascular system and liver, and to help prevent urinary tract infections, eat these little gems!

      Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Veggies

         2 acorn squash
         1/2 cup quinoa
      1 cup spring water
      1/2 large red onion, finely                              chopped
      2 cups spinach, chopped
      1/2 green bell pepper,                                    chopped
      2 tablespoons dried                                        cranberries
      2 tablespoons raw walnuts,           chopped
      3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
      1 teaspoon turmeric
      1/2 teaspoon paprika
      cayenne pepper, to taste
      sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut the tops and tails off the squash, then cut the squash in half. Use a spoon to core out the seeds, which you can wash, dry and eat! Brush the insides of the squash with one tablespoon of the grapeseed oil, then dust with the paprika. Roast the squash for 35-45 minutes, until the flesh is lightly browned and somewhat soft to the touch.

While the squash is in the oven, rinse the quinoa under cool running water. Combine the quinoa and spring water in a covered pot, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat until all of the water is absorbed.

In a skillet, heat the grapeseed oil over a medium flame and sautee until the onion is wilted. It's a good idea to salt the onions while they are cooking. Add the quinoa, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. I don't like to overcook my veggies and nuts, so I wait to add the spinach, bell pepper, walnuts and cranberries until just before I turn off the heat. Stir carefully to mix the quinoa and other ingredients for no more than two minutes. Take the skillet off the flame and keep stirring for another minute or two.

When the squash is cooked, fill the halves with the quinoa mixture and serve. In my opinion, this dish does not make a good next-day leftover, so cook just enough for one meal.

Makes 2-4 servings.

Here's to a Fabulous Fall for all!


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