Some (huge) part of me loves hunkering down for the cooler months. This season mean more time by the fire, with a book, wearing cozy sweaters, and playing board games. Maybe this means I’m secretly an 85-year-old woman living in a millennial’s body, but maybe I’m OK with that.
One of my favorite parts of fall and winter is spending time in the kitchen creating wholesome, seasonal recipes. I love all of the winter vegetables and making “comfort food” that won’t ruin my wellness goals — like these fall comfort foods for vegetarians. My household tries to avoid excessive grain consumption, and increased veggies, the result being my favorite format of dinners: stuffed anything. Stuffed zucchini, butternut squash, these stuffed kale and bean sweet potatoes — name the veggie and I’ve packed it with goodies and served it as a meal.
So then I tried to include the much less popular cousin of the beloved butternut or spaghetti squash, and experimented with acorn squash. It is perfect for a foggy fall night and lasts forever to make GREAT leftovers — even served cold! Plus, acorn squash is more nutrient-dense than any of its other summer squash relatives. Score!
Acorn squash is loaded with vitamin C to boost the immune system, vitamin A for healthy vision and skin, and has more than 9 grams of dietary fiber! This is more than one-third of the daily requirement and helps to regulate blood sugar, diabetes, and digestion. Plus, hello, isn’t she so pretty?
To choose a ripe acorn squash, look for one with a dark green color, with a small patch of yellow or orange. The skin should be hard and the stem slightly withered.
For this recipe, slice the squash lengthwise, brush with olive oil and dust with nutmeg. Remember a little bit of this powerful autumnal spice goes a long way!
I chose to stuff the squash with ground turkey, as it is leaner than red meat and the subtler flavor lets the squash taste take center stage! Like all of my recipes, this is extremely forgiving in what you choose to throw in to the stuffing mixture. Consider adding red and green bell peppers, chopped onions, or sun-dried tomatoes. Those are some of my favorite bonus additions when I have them lying around the house.
But for the purposes of guiding you on a ready-to-follow recipes with little improvisation needed, I’ve literally stuffed this recipe with some of the best natural flavor agents around. Minced garlic and onion, sweet raisins, and a trio of fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and thyme. The aroma before you even start roasting will fill your senses and boost your anticipation of this meal.
As always, I’d suggest tossing any almost-moldy greens into the mixture right at the very end so they wilt slightly and blend in with the other flavors. I’m always looking for ways to hide any extra veggies!
If your tummy and nutritional choices allow, you may even want to top with crumbled feta cheese before drizzling with balsamic vinegar and serving for an extra flavor boost!
And one more favorite preparation tip? I’ve made this with sweet potato flesh combined with the turkey mixture. Having both acorn and sweet potato together makes it extra yummy!
Turkey and Herb Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 lb. ground turkey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
16 oz. baby spinach
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp. parsley, chopped
1 tsp. thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. basil, chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2+ tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and adjust rack to middle position. While it warms, brush the squash lightly with olive oil and dust with nutmeg. Place squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Brown the ground turkey. Add the diced onion, garlic, and celery, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes until soft.
3. Stir in herbs, spices, and raisins. Add spinach and wilt 2-3 minutes. Add in butter or coconut oil and combine over medium heat.
4. Spoon filling into acorn squash and roast for 20 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.
ALSO TRY THESE PERFECT FALL MEALS
Recipe by Katie McGrath; Photos by Kacy Meinecke for DietsInReview.com
Along with spaghetti and butternut squash, acorn squash is another winter fruit that seems to be popping up everywhere this time of year. I’ve seen it in recipes for soups, pastas, salads, and even pies and it all looks so gorgeous and tasty it’s growing hard to resist. However, similar to my foodie blunder of never trying butternut squash, I’ve also never tried acorn squash – shame on me. But after rounding up some seriously delicious recipes featuring it both in savory and sweet settings (find six below), I’m officially adding it to my “to try” list this holiday season and hope you’ll do the same.
Health benefits: Acorn squash is an extremely healthy winter fruit loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamins B-12, C and A, and potassium, folic acid and manganese. It’s also considerably high in folic acid, fiber and both alpha-carotene and beta carotene, which help fight free radicals in the body and ward off certain types of cancers.
Just one cup of acorn squash contains 145 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A. The same serving size also provides 15 percent of the recommended daily amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which evidence has shown can help boost heart health, lower triglycerides and even help prevent and treat serious conditions such as arthritis and depression. (more…)
Finding healthy snacks can be difficult, especially amidst a sea of more unhealthy than healthy options. Couple the issue of availability with the season’s change, which leaves people out of their bikinis and into layered clothes, and we’re all of the sudden far less aware of what we’re putting into our bodies.
But if healthy snacking is important to you like we think it is, take heart and fight developing that unwanted “winter layer.” Try these six healthy do-it-yourself fall snacks from fitness expert and CEO of Step It Up With Steph, Stephanie Mansour.
Pumpkin seeds – You can buy store bought pumpkin seeds or you can roast pumpkin seeds yourself! After carving pumpkins collect all of the seeds, give them a rinse, and spread them out onto a cookie sheet lined with foil. Then, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes. Making your own pumpkin seeds is a cheap and simple way to create your own nutritious fall snack. (more…)
During the spring and summer, a lot of the produce at the farmers market is familiar: fresh tomatoes, bright yellow ears of sweet local corn and bell peppers so large they’re nearly unidentifiable.
When autumn rolls around, it’s not hard to spot familiar apples and pumpkins, but you might find yourself overwhelmed with the variety of squash that suddenly fills the produce stands.
To keep you from falling victim to any winter squash conundrums, we’ve pulled together a guide of some of the most common, and some of the lesser known, types of winter squash you might come across this season.
Summer is fun – especially going to the beach and other water events – but fall is my favorite season. Wearing jeans, watching football, and the crisp fall weather all comes together to create a delightful time.
One of the stand out features of the fall is the availability of fall produce – the cooler days make it perfect to turn on your oven and slow roast the heavier squashes and comfort soups for which the season begs. Try some of these terrific, tasty fall dishes that won’t break the calorie bank but will satiate your taste buds and warm you from the inside out.
Puree butternut squash in small batches in your blender to make this Butternut Squash Soup recipe from Elana’s Pantry. Top each bowl with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to lend depth of flavor.