Falling in love with fall… quinoa and pine nut stuffed acorn squash

Fall is by far my favorite season. A little biased? Maybe. But some of the tastiest and most complex food comes from this season. The squashes, root veggies and cruciferous plants!! All some of my faves. The common theme between all of these is that they taste absolutely incredible when roasted. Each different veggie has such a unique flavor that develops during the roasting process. Yams become sweeter, cauliflower becomes earthy-er and spaghetti squash becomes.. spaghetti (another post on that later this month)!

Roasting these veggies on their own is good… but stuffing them with some other awesome ingredients… even better!!

Acorn squash has a super ridiculously low glycemic load (4 on a scale that goes up to 250) which is good because it won’t give you high insulin spikes that cause a crash later on. It’s also known to be packed with magnesium, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium and vitamin C. Plus, only 56 calories for a cup of the stuff.

Quinoa, as we know, is a complete protein which will help make you fuller faster.

This is a great side dish to meat, or a main meal if you pair it with some cooked veggies. Try it out!

 

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Baked quinoa and pine nut stuffed acorn squash

ingredients

1 small acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half. Once you’ve cut it in half, take each part and cut about 1/2 inch off of the end so that it can stand up.

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3. Scoop the seeds out of the squash and drizzle the inside of both halves with olive oil. Then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt into both halves as well. Put this into the oven for 25-35 minutes, depending on how big your squash is. Mine was really small so it only took 25 minutes.

4. While the squash cooks, put your quinoa into a pot with 1 cup water. Cover and turn the heat to medium high until it starts to boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes.

5. When the quinoa is done cooking, sprinkle the garlic powder, remaining salt and butter into the pot with the heat off. Stir to combine.

6. Next, toast the pine nuts. Take a small, dry sauce pan and put it over medium high heat. Pour the pine nuts into the pan and constantly stir the nuts by shaking the pan. These burn VERY quickly so you can’t walk away from them. It should only take about 45 seconds to get properly toasted (if the pan is hot enough when you put them in).

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This is how the pine nuts will look when they are done.

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A shot of how the pine nuts and the acorn squash look when they are both done cooking.

7. Stir the toasted pine nuts into the quinoa.

8. Flip the acorn squash over so that the cut side is now facing up and put it onto your serving plate. Scoop the quinoa out of the pan and equally fill each half of the squash with the quinoa and you are ready to eat!

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**This also tastes great with some finely chopped and sauteed veggies mixed in with the quinoa, like broccoli, zucchini or cauliflower.

**Feel free to add a meat into the quinoa mixture as well. Just make sure it’s already cooked when you add it in and that it is chopped into small pieces!

 

 

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“Clean” iced vanilla latte sweetened with dates

I get by with a little help from my French press….

I’m in my last semester of college and I definitely rely on coffee to get me through those tough days and nights of studying and writing papers. It’s just a necessary evil sometimes. When I was a freshman in college, I had a friend who was 24 years old and he was coming back to school to get a second degree. We were both in science major classes that had three hour labs twice a week and tests that averaged out at 55%. I was struggling with my transition from high school studying to college binge studying and he was my study partner. I didn’t really drink coffee then but he was addicted and always had an ice coffee whenever I saw him. One day, he came to study with and had brought me an iced vanilla latte. I wanted to seem cool and pretend that I drank coffee all the time, so I downed it. All of the sudden, my mind was focused, my heart was racing and my head was determined to memorize the genus, class and species of every damn animal that we needed to know for our animal bio class. Needless to say, I got hooked on the beneficial effects on productivity that coffee provided me. I spent my first three years of college guzzling down pumpkin spice, vanilla and hazelnut lattes. All that junky crap that you’re not supposed to have on the daily because of the added sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Now that I’m much more health conscious but still in need for that caffeine boost, I’ve started making my occasional habit a little healthier. And I introduce to you the clean iced vanilla latte!!

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clean iced vanilla latte
ingredients
1 cup black coffee (preferable from freshly ground and organic beans)
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or less if you like your coffee stronger)
2 dates, pitted
Ice optional

1. Combine all of the ingredients other than the ice in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds.
2. Pour over ice in a cup and enjoy!! If you prefer it sweeter, just add more dates to the mixture.

**you can also blend in cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices for a little extra kick! Enjoy!

Quinoa for breakfast?!?!

When I was at the Tone It Up Retreat last week, I ate a lot of quinoa. I mean a LOT of quinoa. I’ve always been a fan of quinoa because it’s a complete protein and a good grain alternative (because it’s actually a seed, not a grain). I have quite a few recipes on my blog already that use quinoa as a staple but I’ve never really used quinoa for breakfast before until this morning.

Well, actually, technically I tried it for the first time at the retreat. I was definitely skeptical when I saw “oatmeal” made of quinoa. It seemed like an odd pairing, quinoa and breakfast. But I gave it a whirl and I’m glad I did! Having quinoa for breakfast really helps fill you up and keep you satisfied throughout the day (probably because it’s high in protein). Plus, it doesn’t really taste like anything, so it’s extremely versatile and you can add whatever you want to it.

I pre-made the quinoa last night so that it wouldn’t take as long to prepare. I suggest everyone do it that way too since most people don’t have ample time in the morning to leisurely cook quinoa for breakfast.

Try it out and let me know how you like it!

**OH and by the way… along with this quinoa oatmeal dish this morning, I made a “clean” latte. And holy mother of all delicious food… it was incredible. Don’t you worry though, I’ll be posting THAT recipe soon enough!**

Don’t forget to follow me on instagram at @healthyfoodylifestyle for more recipes, fitness and health updates. And be sure to post your creation and tag me in it so that I can see how yours turned out!

So what are you waiting for… go eat some quinoa for breakfast!

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Superfoods and Strawberries Quinoa Oatmeal

serves 3

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1.5 cups almond milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped strawberries

3 tablespoons cacao nibs

3 tablespoons goji berries

3 teaspoons honey

1. Pour the quinoa, almond milk and cinnamon into a pan. Raise the heat to medium high until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Let this cook for 20 minutes. If the quinoa dries up before it is cooked all the way through, just add 1/4 cup more almond milk to moisten it again.

*This step can be done the night before. Once the quinoa is cooked, just wait for it to cool off and put it into tupperware and into the fridge. When you are ready to reheat it, take out the desired amount, put it into a pot, add 1/4 cup almond milk and put it over medium low heat while you prepare the other ingredients*

2. Separate the quinoa out into three bowls. Sprinkle the strawberries, goji berries, cacao, and honey on top of each bowl. Serve hot!