Apple and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash


The other day this acorn squash was just sitting on my kitchen counter, staring at me, as if to say, “So, what the heck are ya gonna to do with me, huh?”  I took the challenge right then and there, and here is the result.  These autumn beauties would be the perfect sweet and savory side dish for your Thanksgiving table, and so easy to prepare!  The apple, spice and walnut filling compliments the squash so well, and is very versatile.  You could just use the filling in puff pastry for a dessert, as a non-dairy “ice cream” topping, or mixed into oatmeal.  The possibilities are endless.  And once you taste it.  It won’t be hard to find excuses to make it again.  NOTE: The recipe calls for date paste, which is a wonderful, unprocessed, whole food sweetener.  Directions on how to prepare it are at the end of the recipe.  Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash, cut in half, lengthwise, seeds removed

1 large apple, cored and diced

1 handful raw walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup date paste*

1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened (non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine) – optional

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

a scant 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pour enough water in a 9×13 inch glass baking dish to fill about 1/2 inch deep.  Set squash halves in the dish, cut side up.
  2. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Heap about half of the mixture into each squash half and pile in enough to make a nice mound on top.
  3. Carefully place baking dish in the oven and bake for 60-90 minutes.  Test for doneness by piercing the squash with a fork.  If the fork goes in easily, and the filling is bubbly, it’s ready.  Enjoy!

* Date paste is a terrific whole-food substitute for processed, refined sugar.  Just fill a blender pitcher with 2-3 cups of pitted dates (double check for any remaining pits).  Pour in water until the water line overs about half of the dates.  Blend on high until pureed.  Transfer to an airtight container and use whenever you need to grab a sweetener for anything from hot tea or coffee, to baking or smoothies. Use by itself for a great apple dip. Your batch of date paste will last (refrigerated, in an air-tight container) about 1 week.

My new favorite snack – Parsnip Chips

Earlier today I brought home my weekly box of veggies from our CSA, and found parsnips. I’ve used the once before and liked there slight sweetness, but hadn’t really thought much about them. Until, that is, someone suggested parsnip chips. My son and I baked up a batch this afternoon (as an experiment) and they were gone in a matter of minutes. They are SO good!   Slightly sweet, a little salty, completely delicious!  They are perfect as a side dish or just by themselves.  Did I mention that they are easy-peasy, too?!

Parsnips don’t get much love, but they are a great root veggie, and look a bit like a white carrot.  Try pureeing some into your next batch of mashed potatoes.  It adds a little something special, which is always good this time of year.

Nutritionally speaking,  parsnips are high in vitamin C, and also contain calcium, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.  They are a good way to bump up your intake of calcium and iron without the negative effects of fat and animal protein.

Hmmmm, I think I’m gonna have to make these again tomorrow to serve with Portobello Burgers so the hubby can try them too!

INGREDIENTS:
2-3 medium to large parsnips, sliced crosswise into 1/8″ thick circles

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Dump the parsnips, oil, salt and pepper into a small bowl.  Toss to coat.  Then spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Make sure they don’t overlap.  You may need to use two baking sheets to do this.

Bake for 15 min. then turn them over.  Try and avoid the temptation to do this with your fingers, and just use a spatula.  I’ve burned my fingers countless times doing this.  Bake for another 10 min. or until they are golden brown and crispy.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Variations: I’m sure any of a number of herbs or seasonings would be great with these.  Try adding a little bit of herbs de provence, cumin, lemon pepper or paprika!

Super-Yummy Scalloped Potatoes with Herbs

Okay, confession time.  The first time I made these delicious potatoes, I honestly ate half of them by myself for dinner (along with some steamed green beans).  These scalloped potatoes are SO good; full of flavor, low in fat, easy to prepare, and a beautiful addition to any holiday meal.  Any of a number of different potatoes would work here, so use what’s available (Yukon golds, white potatoes, Russets) You will find something called Nutritional Yeast in the ingredients.  Nutritional Yeast is a yellow powder that is packed with vitamins and amino acids, and provides a savory taste that some say is similar to cheese.   Personally, I like the savory flavor that it adds, but don’t worry if you don’t have any, or don’t like it.  Just use flour instead (preferably whole grain flour).   This recipe is a modified version of one found in my favorite vegan cookbook, Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, so I can’t say that it’s one of my original recipes, but it’s just too good not to share!

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients

2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/8 inch slices

3/4 cup vegetable broth, divided

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (unsweetened soymilk would work too)

1/2 large onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or whole wheat flour)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 Tablespoon fresh)

1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1/2 Tablespoon fresh)

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1/2 Tablespoon fresh)

1/4 teaspoon paprika (or 3/4 teaspoon fresh

1/2 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Layer the potatoes in the baking dish so that they overlap (about one-third of each slice) .  Lay them across the short end of the dish first, then the next row should slightly overlap the first, and so on.
  3. Pour the almond milk and 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth over the potatoes.
  4. Scatter the onion slices over the potatoes and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast or flour
  5. Drizzle with remaining broth.  Pour in a slow stream so that it doesn’t wash the yeast/flour off the potatoes.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining yeast/flour, herbs, salt and pepper
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 35 min.  Then remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Enjoy!

Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans

 

We LOVE sweet potatoes around here.  They are full of pectin and sterols that help lower cholesterol, beta carotene, potassium, Vitamin E, antioxidants and fiber.   We roast them all the time, but sometimes it’s nice to dress them up a bit for holidays or special occasions.  You’ll want to save this recipe for the holidays this year, for sure.  This is a simple, DELICIOUS way to serve sweet potatoes as either a side dish, or dessert.  They are great served cold the next day too!

Ingredients

4 medium-to-large sized sweet potatoes or yams

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons non-dairy, trans-fat free margarine (ex.: Earth Balance), softened

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup pecans, chopped

 

 Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash and scrub the yams or sweet potatoes and pierce them several times with a fork or small knife.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake sweet potatoes for 45-60 min. or until very tender.  Leave on them on the sheet and set aside to cool. 
  3. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, combine the margarine, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and pecans in a small bowl
  4. Once cool enough to handle, slice each potato in half, lengthwise.  Then, use a knife to make criss-crossing diagonal slices, half-way through.  Return them to the baking sheet.
  5. Spread a spoonful of the brown sugar mixture over the top of each sweet potato.
  6. Return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are hot, the sugar is bubbly and the nuts are browned. 
  7. Cool slightly and serve.