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.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad…A Healthy Vegetarian Option

I am not a vegetarian, nor do I intend to be, but I do believe in this day and age we Americans are definitely over consuming protein. I am not talking about high biological value (HBV) protein, which is what REAL animal products such as chicken, turkey, fish and eggs contain…I am talking about all these bars and shakes (even protein based cookies and chips!) that people seem to think they need. I have clients with digestive issues, and when I look at their diets and see the overconsumption of protein bars and lack of water in their diet, it is no wonder they feel bloated, because the more protein you consume, the more water you should be drinking!

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Anyhow, I guess my point is, not every meal HAS to have animal protein in it. It really depends on you. I know because I exercise 7 days a week, more often than not, my meals contain a high biological value protein in them, because it keeps me satiated. Sometimes I do half a chicken breast if I don’t feel like I need a whole one and eat the other half later. It really just depends on how I feel. And sometimes I do find it easier once in awhile on my digestive system to have a healthy vegetarian meal. This dish is Mediterranean inspired ( a personal favorite of mine) and very easy to make.

Fun Fact-One cup of cooked chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) contains 269 calories, 45 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol. Besides being an excellent vegan and gluten-free source of protein and fiber, chickpeas also contain exceptional levels of iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. The high fiber content in chickpeas has been known to help lower glucose levels, blood pressure and decrease risk for heart disease.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. lemon pepper

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped into pieces

1 small English cucumber, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

A little juice from the kalamata olive jar (optional but makes it taste even more amazing!)

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together, 1 tbsp. olive oil, the cumin and 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Then add the chickpeas and stir until they are coated with this mixture.

Next, in a medium non stick skillet, cook chickpea mixture over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas are golden brown and slightly crisp, 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic about half way through this process. Transfer all of this to a plate.

In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining olive oil, oregano and the rest of the sea salt and lemon pepper. Add the romaine, cucumber, onion, chickpeas, garlic and the olives. Toss it all together. Add the extra kalamata olive juice if desired.

ENJOY!