Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip and Pumpkin Week on Facebook

pumpkin almond butter dip

Calling all pumpkin lovers…. drop that pumpkin spice latte (for real, do you know what’s in that cup?!) and listen up. Do you want a real pumpkin fix? You see, there’s a big difference between “pumpkin-flavored” and the real deal. So this week I’m sharing my all time favorite pumpkin recipes and treats made with real pumpkin. And of course everything is full of other nutritious ingredients to do your body good this fall. All you have to do is go “like” the meggsalad page on Facebook to get a recipe a day in your feed. Click here to go there now.

First up is total crowd pleaser – serve this pumpkin almond butter dip as an appetizer or dessert, or make a bunch and store it in the fridge for the perfect after school snack. It sure beats that caramel dip that’s loaded with sugar and God knows what else. With this you get nutrition in your treat. – protein and calcium from the almond butter and almond milk, and a healthy dose of magnesium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C from beta-carotene rich pumpkin. Pumpkins are also full of fiber and are anti-inflammatory. See what I mean… real deal.

So don’t forget, get on over to the meggsalad page and click “like” or “follow” (whichever one it is…) so you can get four more real pumpkin recipes like this one this week. What are you waiting for? Go get that pumpkin now.


pumpkin butter dip 2

Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip


  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg


Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until everything is well combined. Allow the mixture to come to a light boil and then reduce heat and simmer about five minutes.

Can be served immediately as a warm spread, or chilled in the fridge and served cool.


Pumpkin Granola (Grain-free)

pumpkin granola

Are you tired of pumpkin yet? Ya, me neither.

You know what I am tired of though… my Pinterest feed showing me delicious looking pumpkin treats that I can’t eat. I swear if I see that two ingredient pumpkin brownie recipe one more time…

So, instead of taking my frustration out on the iPad, I went to the kitchen – determined to partake in the pumpkin extravaganza. And also contribute a little pumpkin something to the Internet for all us gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free folks. So here goes… grain-free granola that puts that brownie in it’s place.


The recipe starts with canned or boxed pumpkin, but be sure to get the pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie (sugar). Combine pumpkin with the applesauce (for sweetness), vanilla, and spices.

mix ingredients

Then mix in the nuts, seeds and coconut and stir to coat everything evenly with the wet ingredients. I used almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds, but you can really use whatever you want – walnuts would be good too, or cashews…


Spread the mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, smoothing evenly to cover the tray. Pop in the oven and bake 40-50 minutes – stirring and respreading about half way through the bake time. When browned and crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool and harden. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Snack by the handful or bowl and enjoy!


Pumpkin Granola (Grain-free)


1/2 can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmetg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes


In a large bowl combine the first nine ingredients and mix well. Add in the nuts/seeds and coconut and stir until they are evenly coated with the wet ingredients.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out the granola mixture so it covers the sheet evenly.

Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. Check granola at half way point and move around to help it cook evenly. After baking, allow to cool and harden.


Basil Broccoli Chicken Spaghetti (Squash)


I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are, but here in Texas, we’ve officially begun that schizophrenic  time in between summer and fall where the weather just can’t make up its mind. This is usually how it goes… the temperature drops to the 80’s and for a few fleeting days we remember what it’s like to not step outside and immediately start sweating. We rush to a patio, or the nearest Starbucks for a pumpkin latte, and bask in the glory because we all know what’s really going on… it’s just a tease. Summer isn’t over yet.

I’m not sure how this goes in other parts, but without fail, each year, this is what we go through in Texas. The tease of fall. I’ll start thinking about new sweaters, lusting after boots, dreaming about pumpkin-and-spice-tasting everything… Only to come crashing back to reality days later when the temps go back up and I remember: We’ve got one more month to go (at least).

So while my boots patiently wait in the closet, I’ve started celebrating fall with some of my favorites in the kitchen. Warming squash stews still don’t feel quite right, but for those of us stuck in the middle, we can take a little from this and a little from that. So I bring you the perfect combo of summer and fall with basil and spaghetti squash.

spaghetti squash
photo courtesy of

If vegetables can be cool, spaghetti squash is the coolest. I mean, just look at what comes out of that thing… To cook, I usually just put it in the oven on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes (more or less depending on the size). I take it out, let it cool and cut it in half long-ways. This is so much easier than trying to hack your way through a hard-as-a-rock, giant squash. You can thank me later. Then scoop out the seeds (roast them later for a healthy snack) and start scraping the insides with a fork. The meat shreds into thin spaghetti-like strings that you can twirl and spin just like the stuff your mom used to make. This vegetable is a godsend to anyone who’s eliminated actual spaghetti. And just as easy as boiling water too. Not to mention, the added nutritional benefits from being a vegetable rather than a refined starch. Just sayin.


While the squash bakes, go ahead and start the sautee. The onion and garlic add a lot of flavor at the start. Then at the end when you add the lemon, olive oil, and basil, it all comes together as a light sauce for the spaghetti.



I try to prep everything ahead, but that doesn’t always happen… After the onions are in the pan, wash and chop the broccoli. For the basil you can either tear it with your hands or thinly slice the leaves with a sharp knife so it’s ready to go when it’s time to eat.


When the onions and garlic are slightly browned, add the broccoli. I love watching greens turn that bright, vibrant shade of green just a few minutes after they start cooking.


Once the broccoli is cooked through and a little tender, add the cooked chicken and spaghetti squash. Stir well so that it all gets mixed together.

The last few steps are small, but so important. Squeeze half a lemon over the pasta and then season with salt and pepper. You can add the basil now, or if you plan to have leftovers, wait until you plate. Red pepper flakes are a good addition too if you want a little kick.

Then twirl that spaghetti to your heart’s content and enjoy tasting summer and fall at the same time.

Basil Broccoli Chicken Spaghetti (Squash)


1 whole spaghetti squash
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 lb. cooked chicken breast (1 in. pieces)
handful basil, thinly sliced or torn
salt and pepper


First, get the spaghetti squash in the oven. Preheat oven to 350 and place squash on a baking sheet. Place in oven and bake about 30 minutes, more or less depending on the size. You’ll know it’s done when it’s softer to the touch and you can get a knife through it.

While the squash is baking, prep your ingredients and start a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, then onion and cook a few minutes until translucent, then add garlic and cook another minute. Add broccoli. Cook, stirring occasionally until broccoli softens, about 5-10 minutes.

When the squash is done, allow to cool and then cut in half long-ways. Scoop out the goop and seeds in the middle and then, using a fork, shred the “meat” by gently scraping it away from the outer skin.

Add spaghetti and cooked chicken to the broccoli mixture and stir to mix well. Squeeze half a lemon and season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh basil. For a little heat, add red pepper flakes.

cooking, recipes

Coconut Chicken Curry


Since getting back last week from India… I mean Austin… I think I’ve had curry four times. Why am I confusing Austin and India, you ask? That was my little joke during our long weekend visit with friends, because every day involved something Indian. We were there primarily to see my friend Lauren perform in a Bollywood production – Om Shanthi. Bravo, Lauren! Maybe all that Bollywood energy stuck with us. But the next night we ended up at G’raj Mahal, an Indian restaurant near Rainey Street. And then, the following day, I found myself loading up a plate of curried cauliflower and chickpeas at the Whole Foods on Lamar, which, by the way, also thinks it’s in India – I couldn’t believe the assortment of Indian curries in the to-go food section and naan in the bread aisle. Anyway….


Curries like this one are on the regular dinner rotation at our house. I’m a big fan of anything that you can cook in one pot and I love using lots of spices. So, Indian food, and actually most cuisines from the eastern hemisphere make regular appearances. We joke about how our future kids’ friends will react when they stay for dinner and then find out we’re having dahl… Iguess I better get working on a back up healthy mac & cheese…


Usually when making curry I don’t stick to a particular recipe. I like to change it up and just go with whatever vegetables I have on hand. It’s a great “clean out the fridge” dish or if you’re shopping you can try to save a little and opt for what’s on sale. Serve over brown rice (or enjoy just by itself) add a little cilantro and BOOM!


I’ve been asked if there’s a particular brand of curry powder I prefer, or if I make my own. I don’t have any regular go-to’s really, but as we’ve experimented more and more, it’s sort of fun combining my own spices rather than going off the shelf. The one in this recipe comes from a recipe provided by Dr. Amy Myers from Austin UltraHealth. If anyone out there has a brand or personal blend they swear by, please share!


This recipe uses butternut squash (I found the cutest little baby one… makes me excited for fall!), celery, green onions and kale. But change it up and use what you like… cauliflower, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots… the possibilities are endless. Don’t have that mix of spices? Use a prepared curry powder or paste. Here’s an old vegetable curry recipe from way back when that uses curry powder for another option.

Did I mention this meal has super powers too? The pungent spices – turmeric, cumin and coriander (just to name a few) – in curry have been used medicinally for centuries. Pungents, which are usually lacking in our modern American diet, are drying which should balance out the sweet (considered mucus forming) foods that it’s easy to get some much more of. Think about the last time you had a spicy chili and it left you with a runny nose, clearing your sinuses. The spices really were “drying you out.” Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, teaches that a truly balanced meal should include all six flavors – spicy, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter – for satisfaction, balance, optimal digestion, health and harmony. It may sound like a tall order for just one meal, but it shows, food is powerful. And when it’s powers are used for good, magic like this happens…


Coconut Chicken Curry

(recipe adapted from Austin UltraHealth’s recipe)

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, cut into crescents
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced small
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups kale, torn and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces
1 can full fat coconut milk

Heat large skillet ove medium heat and add coconut oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add spices and stir to coat onions. Then add squash, celery and green onions and stir to mix well. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Cook until you can pierce squash with a fork. Add kale and continue to cook until wilted. Add chicken and coconut milk and simmer to allow flavors to combine. Add black pepper to taste. Serve as is or over brown rice and topped with cilantro.


Curried Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup


It may look like just soup… but this is so much more than that. That little bowl right there is jam packed full of flu fighters – ginger, garlic, onion and sweet potato. We’ve been cramming these ingredients into alot of meals these days to help get us through the winter flu-free. So far it’s working (knock on wood). And with delicious finished products like this rich, creamy soup, getting that daily dose has been quite tasty, I must say.

Here’s a little more about why each of these four ingredients can help keep you from getting sick:

Ginger: Ginger is a root and has extremely strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxident and anti-microbial properties. It’s long been a remedy to treat nausea and upset stomach (think gingerale on the airplane). Ginger is also an immune booster. Its heat drives circulation, warming the body and even causing a sweat to break. This helps to move colds and flus out of the body and leads to overall detoxification, which is necessary to maintain good health.

Garlic & Onion: Garlic, onion and other white vegetables are the scrub brushes of the vegetable world. When consumed, they get in there and scrub away the stuff that our bodies need to get rid of – viruses, bacteria, parasites (ick). That pungent smell you get when you cut into them comes from sulfides, which give them their anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties among other health benefits.


Sweet potato: Just like its orange-fleshy cousins, carrot and butternut squash, the sweet potato is oozing with vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese –  critical components for immune support and function. What’s more, they taste like dessert  – quite a delicious way to load up on the essentials.


One more pro: curry, with its bitter and drying spices, helps to clear mucus and reduce inflammation as well. For centuries civilizations have used curry to flavor and to preserve their food. In fact the combination of ginger, garlic and turmeric is one of the oldest in the book dating all the way back to between 2500 and 2200 B.C. making curry possibly the oldest dish on the planet. Looks like those ancients were on to something….


Curried Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup


4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2″ chunks
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger root
2 tsp curry powder
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or virgin coconut oil)
1 can coconut milk


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Once you’ve chopped the sweet potatoes, spread them out on a baking sheet, then drizzle with a little olive and a few shakes of salt and pepper and toss. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are browned.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil. Then add shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Next add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute or so. Then stir in the sweet potatoes and cook five minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and pour in coconut milk. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper and a little cayenne, if desired. Cover and simmer fifteen minutes.

To blend the soup into a smooth, creamy consistency, you can use either a blender, food processor an immersion blender. If you’re using a blender or food processor the steam can create pressure and cause the lid to pop off. So take caution and blend in batches if necessary.


Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is having a big breakfast at my parents house. Even though we’re all grown up now and (almost) out of their house (the front door is a revolving one these days, but I think they like it that way…), we spend the night on Christmas Eve and wake up in the home we grew up in. Things aren’t quite the same – I have a husband. And my old room is now an office. So my brother gets bumped to the couch to give us old marrieds his bed (sorry, Michael). But for one night we’re all under one roof again and it makes me smile.

It’s the thought that years ago we were waking up at the crack of dawn, sneaking out to see what Santa had brought us. And now we will be trying our hardest to sleep in as long as possible. And then, instead of going straight for the presents, we’ll go for the coffee (it will be needed after a late night of drinking wine, talking and laughing with aunts, uncles and cousins). And in the morning we’ll have a leisurely breakfast with our traditional foods and some new additions (gluten and dairy free of course).

This year I’m making these gluten and dairy-free pumpkin muffins that are full of holiday spice and fresh orange for Christmas. Oh, and I threw in some chocolate too… They’ll be an addition to our traditional bacon, eggs, waffles, coffee cake and (drum roll) Pilsbury cinnamon rolls. When we were kids, we’d fight to the death for that “middle one.” Ooh, and the extra icing. This year, Ross, I’m tagging you to represent — Don’t be afraid to use those elbows. That warm, gooey center is worth it.

So maybe not that much has changed…

I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of indulgences… but most importantly love, laughter and memories. Merry Christmas to all!


Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins


1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch sea salt
1 can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, rice…)
2 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1/2 chocolate chips (to keep these dairy-free, you can use vegan, available at Whole Foods) (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Either line muffin pan with liners or grease using coconut oil. This recipe makes about 18 large muffins or 36 mini muffins. Or mix it up like I did with 24 minis and 6 large.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well. In a separate bowl, large enough to hold all of the wet ingredients, beat the eggs. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture (or vice versa) and stir to combine. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tins to a little more than 3/4 full. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden on the outside and baked through. You should be able to stick a toothpick through the center and pull it out clean.


Sweet Potato, Kale and Quinoa Salad

veggie-kale-quinoa-saladAs I sit down to write this, it feels a little like calling an old friend you haven’t talked to in years. There’s some guilt for having let so much time go by, a bit of awkwardness getting to where you left off, and oh, where to begin….

I must say, it’s good to be back in the food/health region of the blogosphere. I think I mentioned, we’ve been renovating our new house over the past two months or so now. In that time, I’ve been orbiting, lost in the home design section of the Internet – obsessing beyond control over very important things like differences in white paint. Now that I’ve successfully memorized Benjamin Moore’s entire collection and learned all there is to know about kitchen appliances, I think I’ve had enough…. it’s time to come back.

Side note – I must say, I have a renewed appreciation for the way we communicate online today – being able to share and find information with some keystrokes and a click. I feel as though I’ve learned another language – mostly from people like me just across the blog-o-pond. As I return to my own neck of blog-land, I’m excited to contribute what I know and love –  oh-so-good-and-good-for-you food – so others may enjoy and benefit.

We got our knives, bowls and other kitchen tools out of storage a few weeks ago and I found myself itching to get back into the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed having the excuse not to cook and letting others (my mom) do it for me while I pinned planned. I really didn’t think I missed it. But I did. I really did. This salad here is one of the first meals I’ve cooked in months. And oh, it tasted so good.

It’s good to be back.


Sweet Potato, Kale and Quinoa Salad


1 cup quinoa
2 cup water
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 red onion, thickly sliced
4 kale leaves, removed from stems and torn
sunflower seeds, toasted
extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/4 a lemon
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse quinoa well. In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil (add a pinch of salt), then add drained quinoa. Cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once all the water is absorbed and you can fluff quinoa with a fork, remove from heat and transfer quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Set pot aside – you’ll use it later to toast the sunflower seeds (one less pot to clean later… right, Ross).

Place sweet potatoes and red onion on baking sheet. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper then toss to coat with oil. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes. When slightly golden, remove from oven and set aside.

While the vegetables cook, prepare the kale and sunflower seeds. In a medium bowl, marinate kale with a pinch of salt, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well, massaging the kale until it begins to wilt.

Next, get your pot you used for the quinoa. Place over medium heat and drizzle a bit of olive oil into the pot. Add sunflower seeds and toast, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown slightly. When toasted, remove from heat.

To your bowl with the quinoa, add the roasted vegetables and marinated kale and sunflower seeds. Drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and serve.


butternut squash + kale + white beans + quinoa

Things I will miss about winter:

1. My UGG boots
2. Using the excuse “It’s too cold” to do nothing but curl up and watch Bravo
3. Meals like this….

I’m coming to terms with the fact that this will likely be my last bite of butternut squash for awhile, which makes me a little sad. Is it weird to miss vegetables? Wait, don’t answer that… My husband on the other hand does not share my nostalgia for these peculiar-shaped roots. As the “chopper” of the household, he’d be happy if he never came head to head with one of these guys on the chopping block again. They sure are little boogers to get into, but man, it’s so worth it. That buttery flavor and heartiness make them the perfect healthy comfort food. Plus with their dye-your-skin-orange flesh they’re chock full of antioxidants to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, just when you need it the most.

Literally, all I did here is saute sliced red onion in a skillet. Add the squash. Then broth. Then kale. Then beans. Serve over quinoa and voila! You’ve got yourself a dinner that might make you miss b-squash too. It’s crazy healthy, and even crazier that it’s so delicious. I almost can’t believe it myself. Here’s the full recipe….

Butternut Squash with Kale and White Beans over Quinoa


  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small butternut squash. peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into thin crescents
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can cannellini beans (or 2 cups cooked beans)

For the dressing (whisk all ingredients together to combine):

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper


Rinse and drain quinoa well. Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil and add quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add squash and stir to coat with oil. Cook 7-10 minutes. When the edges of the squash begin to sear and stick to the pan, stir in the vegetable broth. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. When the squash is soft, add kale and stir to combine. When the greens have reduced, add white beans and stir to combine.

Serve over quinoa; drizzle with lemon dressing.

And enjoy that last taste of winter.

As sad as I am to pack up my UGGs and say goodbye to b-squash, I’m just as excited to move on to spring. To help you get your body ready for the season, I’m offering a Spring Clean Your Body program. Now is the time we can all use a little spring cleaning — inside and out. Sessions can be done individually or with friends. For more information, click here.


Cranberry Apple Quinoa Stuffing

A new favorite at Thanksgiving this year was a gluten-free cornbread stuffing with cranberries and apples that came from the Gluten-Free Goddess (Thank you, Karina!). I thought the flavor combo was just too delicious to be reserved for only special occasions, so I tried making it a little simpler for something more weeknight appropriate and used quinoa instead of gluten-free cornbread. I use quinoa a lot (like here, here and here) because it’s such a versatile and incredibly good-for-you grain. Quinoa is like a lighter, finer rice. It’s ridiculously high in protein – and is actually the only grain that is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids making it an excellent choice for vegetarians. It serves as the perfect base for pilafs and medleys, and works great as a side dish or tossed in a salad. You could serve this cranberry apple quinoa mixture on the side of roasted chicken or have it, like I did, simply over a bed of spinach. The flavors scream holiday and the spice from the curry powder and cinnamon warm you up from the inside out. Why not make a regular old Monday night in just a little more festive?

Cranberry Apple Quinoa Stuffing

What you need:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1 cup cranberries, halved
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper

What you do:

First, rinse the quinoa well and set aside. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot and then add the quinoa and little salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or so, until all of the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325. In a cast iron skillet (you’ll be transferring it to the oven later. If you don’t have cast iron, any skillet will do, you’ll just need to put everything in a baking dish when it comes time to bake). heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add thyme, curry powder and cinnamon and stir to flavor the oil. Add the onion, celery and apples and stir to coat everything evenly with oil. Continue cooking until the apples soften. Remove skillet from heat and add cranberries. Mix in quinoa and stir until evenly combined. Stir in vegetable broth, maple syrup and salt and pepper to taste.

Move the cast iron skillet to the oven (or transfer contents to a baking dish) and bake 20-25 minutes.

Serve over fresh spinach for a lighter meal or along with herb roasted chicken as a seasonal side dish.

Have leftovers? Throw it in with a mixed green salad for lunch.


Butternut Squash Quinoa

Food & Wine’s recipe calls for couscous, but all I had was quinoa. I’d never cooked quinoa (sounds like key-NO-waa) before so why not try? It cooks like a grain, but it’s really a seed. Raw, it definitely looks like seeds. Bird seed, as Ashley put it. Cooked, it’s quite good though, and pretty funny looking….


There are lots of different grains (or seeds) out there, but we usually stick to what we know: wheat. Why not change things up a bit? The quinoa only takes about 15 minutes to prepare…. I’m getting ahead of myself here. Cooking the quinoa is one of the last steps. Let me back up. This dish is really a stew served over quinoa (or couscous). So, we’ll start with the stew… 

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds), diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
  • 3/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley

Here’s what you do:

In a large soup pot (or dutch oven if you have one), heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic – stir together and cook another minute. Stir in tomatoes, squash, raisins, broth, and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a simmer. Stir in chickpeas and cook, covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until squash is tender, about 10-20 minutes more. When it’s just about done, stir in the parsley.

butternut-squash stew

NOW, for the quinoa….

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa

What you do:

In a medium sauce pan, bring the water and 1/4 tsp of salt to a boil. Stir in the quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. When all the water is absorbed, fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Serve the stew over the quinoa and top with sliced almonds. 

butternut-squash couscous

Critics (a.k.a. roommates) say: “Tastes like Christmas.” and “That tastes healthy!” (with a positive, delighted exclamation mark). Interesting contradiction, don’t you think? Christmas? Healthy? In the same dish? Is that allowed? Of course it’s also delicious, or I wouldn’t be telling you about it. The critics and I think it is at least. You’ll of course be the judge. Hope you enjoy!