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Cozy Winter Dinner for Four: Turkey and Herb Stuffed Acorn Squash

turkey-acorn-squash

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.

acorn-squash

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!

stuffed-acorn-squash

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.

acorn-squashes

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.

minced-garlic-and-herbs

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.

stuffed-turkey-acorn-squash

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
serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise with seeds removedacorn-squash-stuffed-turkey

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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

Twice-Baked Shepherd’s Pie

Whole Wheat Chicken Pot Pie

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese


Recipe by Katie McGrath; Photos by Kacy Meinecke for DietsInReview.com



Upgrade Traditional Family Holiday Recipes with Healthy Substitutions

By Kendra Thiel from Adventures of the Headless Family

One of the great pleasures of the holiday season is the family recipes that are passed from generation to generation. The tastes of the holidays bring back warm memories of simpler times spent with our favorite people. My grandmother was a spectacular cook and many of my childhood memories are centered around her dining room table. Most of those recipes, though, don’t take into account our more modern need to watch our calories, fat content, and carb counts.

If you’re a Biggest Loser fan like I am, one of the biggest take-aways from the show is “How do I eat healthier, without sacrificing the taste that I crave?” Modifying your existing holiday recipes is a perfect way to get the best of both worlds.

My grandmother’s recipe for Squash Casserole is the perfect example. With just a few substitutions and modifications I have dropped the calorie count significantly and preserved all of the yummy memories of my youth.


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Infuse Your Favorite Fall Recipes with Seasonal Vegetables

Fall weather typically means cooler temperatures and heartier meals. However, eating heartier doesn’t have to mean you are eating foods that are unhealthy. You can easily use seasonal vegetables that are available this fall to add flavor and nutrition to your traditional fall recipes.

Vegetables that are available during the fall season include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, potatoes and turnips. For fruits, be on the look out for apples, dates, pears, kiwi and tangerines. Simply putting some of these items on your grocery list can help inspire you to infuse them into your meals. Since these items are at their peak during the fall season, you can get them at a good price and while they are at their freshest.

Below are a few ideas that incorporate seasonal produce with your everyday fall favorites.


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A Guide to Healthy Fall and Winter Squash

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.


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How to Grill Perfect Vegetables

Either as a side dish or the main event, grilled vegetables are a fresh, healthy way to celebrate the summer season.

Not only is it important to eat more vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but if you’re eating more vegetables, chances are you’re eliminating higher-fat foods in favor of colorful, plant-based foods.

Opt for Veggies that Grill Well

Just like meats, different types of vegetables stand up to heat differently. Eggplant, summer squash, button mushrooms, peppers, corn on the cob and onions are all excellent on the grill. To serve them in a more creative way, opt for kabobs or a grilled vegetable salad.


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