FALL RECIPES- Acorn Squash and Chicken Chili

So, fall is here in Southern California…even though it doesn’t particularly feel like it. Today the forecast says it will get down to a chilly 70 degrees, only to get back up to 91 degrees on Saturday. I am dusting off my UGGS as we speak…haha!

Anyhow, even though it hasn’t cooled down a ton here, the fall vegetables are out in full force at the grocery stores, so I picked up a few of my favorites last week. I always buy spaghetti squash, but one of my other favorites during the fall is acorn squash. This little green and orange nugget of joy has a sweet flavor when baked. One cup has only 56 calories and 25% of your daily Vitamin C!

One of my favorite acorn squash recipes is to just cut one in half, bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes and drizzle it with coconut oil, a little cinnamon and brown sugar. But today I decided I wanted to do something a little more filling and put together a delicious chili that will last for a few days in my refrigerator…which is a good thing, because I have a busy week. Any time I can make a healthy and hearty meal that I can put in tupperware and carry with me to work for lunch is a good meal.

This chili was a little different. It called for a cup of pilsner, which is a light beer. It also called for unsweetened cocoa powder, which has become a staple in my chilies, because it adds a rich but subtle dash of flavor.

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ACORN SQUASH AND CHICKEN CHILI

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 acorn squash seeded, cooked, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 cup pilsner/light beer
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Navitas Naturals)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 15 1/2 ounce can black beans, drained
Juice of 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
Cilantro, for serving

Feel free to add sour cream, greek yogurt or sliced avocados as well!

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, five-spice powder and chili powder and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the squash pieces, chicken pieces, tomatoes, beer, cocoa powder and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the black beans and lime juice and cook for 5 minutes. Let the stew cool slightly, then ladle into bowls and top each serving with some cilantro.

ENJOY!

Quinoa “Enchilada” Casserole

One of the things I know for sure. Some people love burgers. Some people love pizza. One of my favorite “guilty” pleasures is Mexican food. I love chips and guacamole and could eat them all day. One of the things I don’t like about Mexican food, however, is how GREASY and FULL of CHEESE it can be. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a little cheese here and there, but I don’t like my food covered in it. It’s way too congestive for my system to handle in massive quantities.

That being said, I am often looking for ways to make food dishes that are “Mexican-inspired” without all the cheese and grease. There are quite a few quinoa bakes on the Internet with turkey and black beans, but mine I did with NO cheese and used bell peppers and tomatoes instead of corn, which I find a totally useless vegetable to eat, unless its grilled on a cob from time to time.

This dish can also be made meatless. If you chose to go meatless, I would use a full cup of black bans in the dish instead of 1/2 cup so you get a little more protein in there. I was really impressed with the flavor in this dish and I really don’t even miss the cheese at all!!

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Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

1 cup of organic quinoa

1 cup of organic ground turkey meat ( I used kosher)

1/2 cup black beans

1 large organic red bell pepper, diced

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1 large avocado, diced

1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup of Frontera Red Enchilada Sauce (feel free to use whatever brand you chose, I liked this brand because it was lower in sodium than others)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F

Cook the quinoa (boil in 2 cups of water for 12-15 minutes)

Cook the turkey meat (sauté for 5-7 minutes until cooked through)

Once cooked, combine all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl

Pour into a greased or sprayed square baking pan

Bake approximately 15-20 minutes

Top with more avocado and tomato, or add a favorite salsa if you chose.

Enjoy!!

Breakfast On The Go…Apple and Almond Butter Baked Oatmeal

I was recently asked about creating breakfasts on the go. What is a breakfast on the go? Specifically, this is means a breakfast you can easily pack up and take with you on a busy morning and either eat on the road or once you get where you are going. For me, this is typically a breakfast in a mason jar (like a homemade smoothie or overnight oats), but recently my creative juices got flowing when I read about a breakfast idea called baked oatmeal.

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Baked oatmeal is basically taking your favorite traditional oatmeal and making it into a casserole. Unlike regular oatmeal, which is made on the stove-top and has a porridge-like consistency, baked oatmeal is made in the oven and has a consistency similar to that of bread pudding. What is nice about this sort of consistency is that once it is cooled, it is easy to cut into pieces and take on the road.

There are many ways you can make this sort of dish, but I decided I would add two of my favorite healthy choices that add fiber and flavor and some healthy fat and protein as well. Apples, especially when baked, add natural sweetness to this recipe and almond butter makes it more satisfying and gives this dish a rich, nutty flavor. Again, this is baked oatmeal is great for an on the go breakfast, snack, or even dessert.

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Apple and Almond Butter Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup coconut sugar (great because it is lower glycemic)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups skim milk (or milk of your choice)
1  egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup crunchy almond butter
3-4 diced organic fuji apples, skin on

directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8 square baking dish with cooking spray of your choice and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In another small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

4. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the almond butter and mix until combined. Add the apples and stir again. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Rainy Day “Comfort Food”-Chicken With Spicy Tomato Sauce, Kale Salad and Garlic Green Beans

A rainy day Sunday in Los Angeles definitely means I am going to be cooking something. Not only am I in the mood for something warm but I really do love making a big meal on Sundays. That way I don’t have to scramble for lunch the first few days of the week because I will have leftovers from a meal like this.

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Making food from scratch doesn’t have to be tough. This recipe has very few ingredients and the ingredients it does use are simple. You could also technically use fish instead of chicken if you wanted.

Fun Fact-There are tons of vitamins and minerals in this delicious and healthy dish. The tomatoes have vitamin A, C, lycopene and beta-carotene, among other vitamins, that are more readily absorbed when cooked healthy fats like the avocado oil used below. One cup of kale is equivalent to nearly 20% of the daily recommended dietary fiber intake and also contains powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals that can cause oxidative stress.

Broiled Chicken With Spicy Tomato Sauce, Kale Salad and Garlic Green Beans

In a bowl, combine:

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (organic preferred)

1/4 tsp.sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

In another bowl, toss together:

3-4 cups of lacinato kale, chopped

1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 and 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

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In a large pot, bring to a boil:

3 quarts of water, and once the water is boiling, add 1 lb of fresh green beans, trimmed

When the green beans are al dente (just slightly cooked), drain and toss them with

While the green beans cook:

Preheat the oven to BROIL and line a baking pan with foil.

Place the chicken breasts that have been soaking in the lemon juice and spices onto the foil and broil for 12-15 minutes.

When the green beans are al dente (just slightly cooked), drain and toss them with:

2 chopped garlic cloves

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

a dash of sea salt and lemon pepper

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While the chicken cooks:

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and coat with non-stick pan spray, add:

2 tbsp. oil of choice ( I used avocado oil)

3/4 cup yellow onion, diced

3-4 garlic cloves, diced

When the onions are soft (about 2 minutes), add:

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

4 roma tomatoes, diced

2 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1/4 tsp. sea salt

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Simmer the tomatoes until they begin to soften. Serve the tomato mixture over the chicken with the sides of the green beans and kale salad.

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