Autumn has fallen upon us (pun intended!) and it is time to get out the sweater box and warm slippers again. We had a hot summer, which brings cravings for cold! Now that the temperatures are inching down again, the cravings for warm beverages (pumpkin lattes anyone?) and soups creep in again. One comforting addition to the pantry for fall cooking are squash. And if you have been to even one grocery store in the past three days, you can see that multiple SQUASH varieties are everywhere, and at a great price!
Winter squash can easily become a staple in your diet for the fall/winter months. There are many varieties to choose from and during this time of abundance, are easy on the budget. Some may think that squash is high carb food and can contribute to weight gain, but au contraire! Squash helps regulate sugar metabolism in the body. It contains pectin, a key ingredient that balances insulin and glucose activity levels. If you’re trying to prevent or reverse diabetes, squash can make a great substitute for pasta dishes when eating less processed foods and/or refined grains. Other health benefits of squash include high levels of beta-carotene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals to round out the nutrition punch of this food.
Here are a couple recipes to spark the squash-cooking inspiration!
Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash (GF, DF)
Created by Paleo Running Momma @ https://www.paleorunningmomma.com/chicken-pesto-paleo-spaghetti-squash/
- 1med/med-large spaghetti squash
- 3/4-1cup homemade pesto toss with your spaghetti squash *see below
- 5lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts thin sliced or pounded to 1/2″ thickness
- 2Tbsp coconut oil, ghee, or other cooking fat, to sauté the chicken
- Sea saltpepper, and onion powder to season chicken
For the Pesto
- 1cup raw shelled walnuts
- 3cups fresh basil leaves
- 2cups fresh baby spinach leaves
- 4cloves garlic
- 2/3cup light flavored olive oil
- 3/4tsp salt you can adjust to your taste
- 2tbsp nutritional yeast *optional
Add all the pesto ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor. Process/blend on high speed until a “paste” forms, stopping to scrape the sides and stir once or twice for even blending. Store the pesto in a covered container/jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- First, roast the squash (you can do this step a day ahead of time or day of)
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment.
- Cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, then place face-down on a foil lined baking sheet.
- Roast in oven for about 20 minutes or until the squash can be pushed from the outside a bit with your finger. Once you remove the squash, lower the oven to 400 degrees.
- Allow the squash to cool enough to handle, and, using a fork going lengthwise down the squash, remove spaghetti strings from both sides of the squash and place in a large bowl.
- To “drain” the squash, squeeze once or twice between paper towels to absorb excess moisture, as you would with frozen spinach, for example. This step is important to get the texture of the dish right, no mushy, watery spaghetti squash!
- While the squash roasts, you can prepare your pesto, or prepare it ahead of time.
- While the squash rests, cook the chicken. Heat a large skillet over med/med-hi heat and add your cooking fat. Sprinkle the chicken lightly with salt, pepper, and onion powder on both sides, then add to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center. Once cool enough to handle, slice or chop into bite size pieces.
- In a casserole dish, gently toss the spaghetti with the chicken and pesto to fully coat.
- Put the casserole dish in the oven for about 10 minutes, or enough time to fully heat through and blend everything. Remove and serve!
- Additional delicious add-ins include cooked and crumbled bacon, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
Pearl Couscous Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash (DF)
Recipe created by Little Spice Jar @ http://littlespicejar.com/autumn-pearl-couscous-salad-with-roasted-butternut-squash/
|For the salad:
· 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· salt and pepper
· 1 ½ cups dry pearl couscous, (cooked to package directions)
· 3 heaping cups baby spinach
· ½ cup red onions, thinly sliced
· ½ cup dried cranberries
· ½ cup toasted pecans
|For the dressing:
· 3 tablespoons orange juice
· 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
· ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
· 3 tablespoons honey
· 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
· ⅓ cup olive oil
· salt and pepper
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF. Place the diced butternut squash on a baking sheet, toss in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread squash out in an even layer. Roasted squash for 20-25 minutes total, tossing every 10-12 minutes or as needed.
- While the butternut squash is roasting, prepare the pearl couscous.
Add the orange juice, mustard, garlic powder, honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a mason jar. Screw on the lid and give it a few shakes until the olive oil combines with the other ingredients.
In a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients of the salad. Add the dressing and serve. Alternately, you can dress only portions of the salad and refrigerate the rest in an air tight container.