Fall Flavors Series: Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Happy Fall, y’all! With fall comes brisker weather — which as someone who is always warm, I quite enjoy — along with delicious foods. Pumpkin, anyone? See also: Brussels sprouts, squash in all shapes and sizes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc.

I recently prepared a multi-course vegan meal for a group of wonderful women. A couple of friends came up with the idea for an event, GATHER: Your Mat, Our Table. The event included an hour-long rooftop yoga class and then a delicious vegan meal prepared by yours truly using almost completely local ingredients. Here’s the menu lineup (and credit to the farms that supplied the goods, AKA the veggies):

Lacinato kale,  cinnamon-roasted butternut squash and pomegranate salad with candied pecans and a fig-balsamic dressing

Roasted Brussels sprouts with orange zest and toasted hazelnuts

Purple and sweet potato fritters with spiced apple sauce

Butternut squash and lentil curry over coconut-lime cauliflower “rice”

Caramel apple bar

*Lacinato kale, purple and sweet potatoes from Green Acres Indiana Farm; Butternut squash, red onions, red peppers, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts from Geneva Lakes Produce; Apples from K & K Farms*

This was my farmer’s market haul for the event:

fall_vegetabls_in_season

Many of the awesome ladies at the event were asking for recipes, so I figured I would do a series of posts. I want to first highlight my personal favorite dish of the night (and one of the easiest to make!): a roasted butternut squash and kale salad.

I’m all about color and texture in my recipes, and this one really offers it all. Crispy kale, the “pop” of pomegranate, the smooth, creamy texture of roasted butternut squash plus candied pecans on the side to add sweetness and crunch.

Drizzle it with a super-simple Mission fig balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got a major crowd favorite.

fall_salad

Fall Kale, Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad

This salad is vegan but to add a little more protein, try topping with grilled chicken, salmon or to keep it vegan/vegetarian and up the protein, add some lentils or chick peas to the mix.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 bunches lacinato (AKA dinosaur) kale, preferably organic, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil plus 3 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed
  • 1 large pomegranate
  • 8 oz. pecan halves
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. fig balsamic (you can find at specialty grocery stores or olive oil/vinegar shops) Substitute balsamic vinegar if you can’t find fig balsamic 
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the ends off of the butternut squash then cut in quarters. Scoop out the seeds. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel off, then dice into 1/2″ cubes.
  3. Toss diced butternut squash and red onion with coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until desired level of char (I like mine really charred).
  4. While squash and onions are roasting, add kale to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Using hands, massage oil into the kale. This will take out some of the bitterness and make the kale a better texture. Put the massaged kale in the fridge to marinate while you prep everything else.
  5. To remove the seeds from the pomegranate, roll the pomegranate gently around on the table (before cutting into it). You will hear and feel the seeds loosening. Then, cut the pomegranate in quarters and scoop out the seeds. Keep seeds refrigerated.
  6. Add 2 tsp. coconut oil to a pan and heat for 1 minute, then add pecans, 1 Tbsp. maple syrup and 1/2 tsp cinnamon to pan and toast, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Using a whisk, mix vinegar, 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. maple syrup.
  8. On top of “massaged” kale, add pomegranate seeds, roasted butternut squash/onions and candied pecans. Drizzle with dressing.

Stay tuned for more fall recipes coming your way. And while I’m not generally a “vegan” cook, these recipes have mass appeal and include REAL foods that anyone can get behind. Hope you enjoy!

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Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro-Lime Pesto {Vegan}

Because you know I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. Hey!

I’m bringing beet soup baaaaacccckkk!

I could totally continue on with my Meghan Trainor/beet soup song, but I have an important recipe that needs sharing. For soup, no less. And while this soup is totally about the beets, it’s also about the butternut squash, coconut, curry and THE PESTO. [Vegan] Cilantro Lime Pesto that I posted yesterday. The combination of that pesto and this soup is money.

coconut_curry_butternut_squash_beet_soup_vegan

Who calls a soup + pesto combination “money”? I called a sandwich “money” the other day while out to eat with the boy, who proceeded to tease me about using the phrase to describe food.

I guess that’s just how I roll.

Okay, back to soup.

I’m not generally a soup maker. I make big batches of chili all the time but for some reason I’ve neglected soup.

I think it’s because, until now, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of soup. Soup is a fantastic way to use up ingredients — produce, proteins, etc. — that are on the verge of going bad. While soups can take a little longer to prepare, they yield a giant pot of deliciousness that can then feed you for days. Soups also let you play around with flavor combinations and can be relatively fool-proof.

The curry-coconut-cilantro combo (with beets + butternut squash) is seriously delicious. The richness from the coconut is perfectly balanced by the acidity and freshness of the Cilantro Lime Pesto.

And while I’m not a vegan, the vegan principle of using real, whole ingredients is one that I totally get behind. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really do processed foods.

coconut_curry_beet_squash_soup_vegan

Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro Lime Pesto

This soup would be perfect to serve at parties, for the holidays or just make whenever you want a warming, delicious and satisfying meal. If you’re not a vegan, I suggest pairing this with a grilled chicken breast for some protein.

Servings: 6, 10 oz. cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 large, fresh beets
  • 1 can (13.6 oz.) light coconut milk + 1 can (13.6 oz.) water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • Cilantro Lime Pesto for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut butternut squash in quarters. Cut the ends off (the little nub at the top and tough part at the bottom). Scoop out the seeds (save these for delicious roasted squash seeds if you feel inclined).
  3. Wash/scrub beets well. Cut off top and bottom of each beet, then cut into quarters. No need to peel the beets — just make sure you scrub them well.
  4. Lay butternut squash, cut side down, and beets on a sheet pan and roast for about an hour, until they are soft. Peel the skin of the butternut squash off (it should easily come off). Let the squash and beets cool slightly.
  5. When beets and squash slightly cooled, add to a food processor and pulse mixture until smooth.
  6. Add blended mixture to a large pot, along with coconut milk, water, curry powder, salt, pepper and optional chili powder.
  7. Heat over medium until mixture starts to boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Top each serving with a spoonful of cilantro pesto and serve warm.

vegan_beet_squash_soup_with_pesto

Holiday Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

The holidays are certainly upon us. I’m not sure about you all, but we have holiday parties/festivities for the next several weekends (not that I’m complaining). That means lots of food, and most of it not very healthful.

My general plan of attack for myself (and what I recommend to clients) is to bring a couple dishes that you have prepared and feel good about eating. That way, when you’re surrounded by marshmallow and sugar-laden sweet potato casseroles, creamy vegetable sides and indulgent desserts galore, you at least can at least eat/feel good about eating the dishes you brought (and maybe skip some of those disgusting creamy casseroles).

brussels_butternutsquash_raisins_goatcheese1

For the holidays, my go-to dish is a salad. It’s the dish I volunteer to make for all my holiday parties, partially because I don’t trust others to make a good salad — I’m a control freak and I’ve never denied that — and partially because I make a damn good salad.

So when the folks at California Raisins tasked us with creating recipes that are “naturally sweet for the holidays,” my mind went to salad.

When making a salad, I love taking seasonal vegetables and adding just a touch of sweetness, whether that’s a honey-infused vinaigrette, raisins, or both, as I’ve done here. California Raisins add natural sweetness with zero fat, no cholesterol and no added sugar. Plus, they offer 9% your daily fiber and potassium, and 6% of your daily iron.

brussels_butternutsquash_raisins_goatcheese

They’re a great choice for wholesome at-home or on-the-go snacking, plus they lend themselves well to both savory and sweet applications, where they provide natural sweetness.

They are seriously amazing for snacking, though, as evidenced by the fact that my roommate and I snacked on a pretty portion of the bag of California Raisins before I even started to create my recipes, to the point where I had to go back to the store to get several more bags. No biggie though, because California Raisins are the most economical dried fruit, according to the USDA.

As a sidenote, I love to pop a few raisins with peanut or almond butter — ants-on-a-log sans the celery, if you will — and also add them to my plain Greek yogurt to add extra nutrition and a little natural sweetness.

They also were d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. in my Vegan Moroccan Stew, which I made for another ReDux a few months ago.

Recipe: Raw Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese

This salad is perfect for the holidays and because the Brussels sprouts don’t wilt like other greens, you can actually prep and dress the salad up to 1-2 days ahead of time. California Raisins add a great sweet note to the salad and the goat cheese brings just the right amount of tang.

brussels_butternutsquash_raisins_goatcheese2

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3/4 cup California Raisins, divided (1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup)
  • 8 oz. log Chevre goat cheese, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Peel butternut squash using a sharp knife then cut in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds from the middle. Dice into small (~1/4″) cubes. Toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and lay on a baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
  2. While the squash is cooking, cut/shred Brussels sprouts, then wash and thoroughly dry them (or use a salad spinner).
  3. Mix 1/4 cup California Raisins, pecans and rosemary and gently press mixture into both sides of the goat cheese slices.raisins_pecan_rosemary_goatcheese
  4. In a large bowl, add balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, honey, pepper and salt. Use a whisk to mix.honey_balsamic_dressing
  5. Add shredded Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, and remaining 1/2 cup California Raisins and toss with dressing.          brussels_butternutsquash_honey_balsamic
  6. Top with pecan and California Raisin-crusted goat cheese.

To make it a meal, try adding grilled chicken, turkey or fried eggs, as I did for breakfast yesterday.

CARaisins_GoatCheese_Salad_witheggs

See how other Recipe ReDuxers are using California Raisins by clicking the link below.

Gluten-Free Rosemary Butternut Squash Bake {Sponsored Recipe ReDux Post}

I received free samples of Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax and Breton Gluten Free Herb and Garlic from Dare Foods Incorporated mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Dare Foods Incorporated and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

gluten_free_butternut_squash

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I just got back from celebrating all of the wonderful mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers in my life — they are all truly amazing woman whom I admire so much and can only hope to be like “when I grow up.” I hope that you all were also able to celebrate the mamas in your life today!

While May means Mother’s Day for many (and my birthday — hint, hint), it is also Celiac Disease Awareness Month. According to the University of Chicago, Celiac Disease affects 1 in 133 people. These people MUST avoid gluten as consumption of gluten-containing foods (those that have wheat, barley and/or rye in them) causes an inflammatory reaction in which the intestines essentially attacks itself.

Yikes! Not so fun.

Luckily, there are an increasing number of amazing gluten-free products out there so that those with Celiac Disease and those who are sensitive to gluten can continue to enjoy their favorite foods.

Crackers are one of those foods for me. They must be crunchy when you first bite into them but then turn melt-in-your-mouth buttery and soft as you eat them. They should be a generous size so that you can pile on toppings for a quick snack. And if they have added nutritional benefits — like flax seeds — I’m all over it.

So when the folks at Dare Foods asked us to create delicious, gluten-free recipes using their line of gluten-free Breton crackers, I was thrilled to play around. These crackers exceeded my expectations for what a cracker should be, AND they have the added benefit of being gluten-free!

Breton Gluten Free US

breton_butternut_squash

Dare Foods (www.darefoods.com) sent me both varieties of their gluten-free crackers to play with:

  • Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax crackers
  • Breton Gluten Free Herb and Garlic crackers

While I loved both, I was drawn toward the Original crackers not only for their taste but also because they have the following attributes (as do the Herb & Garlic variety):

  • Certified gluten free by the Canadian Celiac Association’s Gluten Free Certification Program
  • Kosher dairy OU-D
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Made with arrowroot and green lentil flours
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • No cholesterol
  • Peanut free
  • Trans fat free

While I enjoy snacking on crackers — especially when I can dip those crackers in hummus, guacamole or some other delicious dip — I wanted to make something a little more special. A butternut squash bake with rosemary, cheese, and Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax crackers sounded fantastic to me (and was!).

This is a dish that everyone can appreciate, whether gluten-free or not. Enjoy!

**SIDE NOTE: I DISCOVERED A MICROWAVE/OVEN COMBO FOR MAKING THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH THAT HELPED CUT THE COOKING TIME IN HALF. SEE BELOW FOR INSTRUCTIONS**

Recipe: Gluten-Free Rosemary Butternut Squash Bake

The earthiness of rosemary pairs beautifully with the sweet-nutty flavor of butternut squash. Topped with a crushed Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax crackers/four-cheese blend, the bake is divine! The whole family can enjoy this, whether they’re gluten-free or not.

gluten_free_butternut_squash_bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or melted grass-fed butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax crackers
  • 1/4 cup four cheese blend (I used Trader Joe’s Quattro Fromaggio)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Poke holes in whole butternut squash using sharp knife (be careful here!) Microwave whole, pierced butternut squash for 4-5 minutes, or until squash has softened. Let squash cool for 5-10 minutes so that it is cool enough to cut.
  3. Cut squash down the middle (so that stem is one piece and the bottom/base is the other piece). Using a paring knife, cut away the skin of the squash. Next, cut the peeled squash into wedges. Place wedges in a casserole dish.
  4. Top the squash with the two rosemary springs (minus the stems). Drizzle with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. butternut_squash_bake_ingredients
  5. In a sandwich-size zip-top bag, add Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax crackers. Seal the bag and crush the crackers until they become crumbs. Add cheese to the bag, seal, and shake the whole thing around to mix.
  6. Remove squash from oven and sprinkle with cracker and cheese mixture. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the whole thing browns a bit on top. butternut_squash

This dish would be great at a family get-together, or anytime to want to add deliciousness to your dinner. Make extra — it holds up really well in the fridge or freezer.

gluten_free_butternut_squash

Check out the many other delicious, gluten-free recipes featuring Breton Gluten Free Crackers by following the link below!

 

 

Butternut Squash Tastes Like Butta

Butternut squash, with its creamy texture, is the perfect comfort food. Like butta, some might say. Plus, because it has both sweet and savory notes and is extremely versatile; not to mention it is loaded with nutrients. Nutrition breakdown: half a cup of butternut squash is only 50 calories and provides a whopping 260% your daily need for vitamin A, plus 40% your daily need for vitamin C (vitamins A and C boost immunity, can decrease inflammation and contribute to healthier skin, eyes and an overall healthier body). You’ll even get a little iron and calcium in that 1/2 cup serving, though you’ll probably want to eat more than half a cup!

My one issue with butternut squash, however, is that can take 45-60 minutes to cook. Thus, I had a butternut squash sitting on my counter for several weeks before I got around to making it. Did I mention I made it in 30 minutes? The key is to cut it up small. With a VERY sharp knife. Butternut squash doesn’t play around…you have to put major – at least for me – muscle into cutting that baby up. That expression, “no pain, no gain,” can absolutely be used here. Completely worth the minor hassle to get a deliciously cooked butternut squash, though. Check out how I used it several ways!

Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad

Arugula, White Bean and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash*
  • 1/2 cup white beans
  • 2 Tbsp roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp cracked pepper

Directions: Toss all ingredients together. Yep- it’s that simple!

*To roast butternut squash, peel it and cut it into 1.5″ cubes. Drizzle with olive oil or use cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Note: the smaller the pieces you cut, the faster it will cook.

Butternut Squash-Stuffed Portabellas

Butternut Squash and Tempeh-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash, mashed
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 oz tempeh (uncooked), finely chopped
  • 4 portabella mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt (smoked salt, if you have it, works really well)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1 oz cheese (parmesan would be ideal, but I didn’t have any, so I used light cheddar instead)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove stems from washed/dried portabellas. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Mix all remaining ingredients (excluding cheese) together and stuff into the prepared mushrooms. Top with shredded or thinly sliced cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked and cheese is browned and bubbly (and thus, delicious).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curried Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes

Happy Halloween! Are you up to your ears in nougaty, caramely, chocolatey-ness yet? Get back on the right (read: healthy) track and eat some veggies!

Since it’s Halloween you know that it’s also fall and with fall comes a whole slew of delicious and nutritious foods – cranberries, sweet potatoes, turkey and brussel sprouts to name a few. One of my favorite fall foods, though, is squash. Butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash are my top picks, though really I like them all – I don’t discriminate.

The other day I was baking my spaghetti squash and figured I might as well save time and make my butternut squash too. This was a great idea (gotta love efficiency!) until I realized that I had TONS of squash to use up.

One can only eat so much squash on its own, so I had to find a way to transform the squash. I set out to make squash cakes but in order to up the protein I also added in lentils (so that I could make the squash cakes my dinner rather than having to cook a protein to balance things out). Since I’ve been loving lentils lately (the split ones only take 15 minutes to cook!), I decided on a curried butternut squash and lentil cake. Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamin A (more than 250% your recommend daily intake for just 1/2 a cup of the stuff) and vitamin C, plus iron. Lentils are also loaded with iron, along with protein and potassium. That makes for one fantastically healthy cake! Add some curry powder and other spices and top with an apple “salsa,” and they become a delicious cake too. Oh and an added bonus – because of all the fiber in both the squash and lentils, these will make you feel super-full without loads of calories.

Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes
Curried Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked butternut squash, mashed (about one whole squash)
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils (makes about 1 cup cooked)
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Garnish:

  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice

A one-bowl preparation!

Directions:

Cook lentils according to package directions. Mash squash and lentils together and add remaining ingredients. Heat a large pan and spray with cooking spray. Form squash mixture into patties and drop into pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side.

Top with apple “salsa.”

 

Curry Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes with Apple Salsa

*Note: mine were a bit fragile (mushy), so I baked them at 375 for 10 minutes just to stiffen them up a bit. They are delicious either way, though.