Fall Is Here! Time For A Hearty Veggie Recipe…Lentil And Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Getting tired of the whole spaghetti squash craze and having had my share of butternut squash, I was at the grocery store this past week and came across an acorn squash. At $1.79 a squash, I thought I would take my chances and bring one home and figure out what to do with it later. Image 3

Acorn squash is a winter squash, which means it is best eaten when the skin has hardened into a tough rind. It is also best to eat it cooked ( I can’t imagine eating it NOT cooked!) This squash is low calorie, only 56 calories for one cup! It is high in complex carbohydrates, potassium vitamin C and dietary fiber. Acorn squash is also high in beta-carotene, and the darker the skin, the higher the beta carotene content.

This recipe I came up with was based off of another recipe, but I made it my own. It is probably best for a chilly winter night, but can be eaten at any time, packed in a to-go tupperware and paired with your favorite lean protein if you feel like you need it.

Lentil And Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

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1 acorn squash, chopped in half

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup lentils, red or green

1 red bell pepper, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1/4 tablespoon cumin

1/4 tablespoon tumeric

sea salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to 350F. Cut squash in half and place in a baking dish filled with 1/2 an inch of water. Place flesh down and bake for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, cook 1 cup quinoa and 1/2 cup lentils together in a pot of water (about 2 cups of water) for 10-12 minutes or until fully cooked. In another pan, sauté the garlic and red pepper in the coconut oil. When the red pepper and garlic are soft, combine them with the lentils and quinoa. Then add the turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle a little  more coconut oil if necessary.

When the squash is done, take it out and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Drain the water from the pan and place a baking sheet in the pan. Put the squash back in the pan and pour the quinoa and lentil mix into each squash half. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes. Take them out and enjoy!!

Stuffed Eggplant Boats? Mmmmm…

I love eggplant, so when I find a recipe that uses it in an innovative way, I am always open to giving it a shot. This recipe is pretty easy. The only negative I found is that when you slice the meat of the eggplant out of its shell, leave a certain amount of thickness to the eggplant, because if you cut out too much of the meat, when you cook the “boat,” the weight of the ingredients you load it with will cause the sides of the eggplant to collapse and it will look more like an eggplant pizza than eggplant boat.

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This dish is amazing for just about any meal. It is flavorful and full of protein, fiber, veggies and healthy fats. It is also gluten-free. ENJOY!

STUFFED EGGPLANT BOATS

1 medium whole (2-3/5″ dia) Tomatoes

 1 eggplant, unpeeled

1/2 cup chopped Onions

1/2 cup Parsley

1/2 lb Lean Ground Turkey

 1/2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup, cooked Quinoa (Cooked)

Cut the eggplants in halves and scoop out the insides to create a “boat”. Chop the eggplant “meat” that you have scooped into small pieces. Cook the meat, eggplant bits, chopped onion, tomato, salt and pepper in a pan on the stove.  Once everything is nicely cooked together, add parsley and cooked quinoa. Sprinkle the eggplant with some salt and fill them with the filling. Then put the boats in the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes. That’s all folks!

The Meaning Of Steps2Nutrition

As with anything, you have to start from the bottom to get to the top!

Standing at the bottom of the Culver City Stairs is intimidating, especially if you have never climbed them before. The ancient looking staircase is reminiscent of an Incan Ruin. I can imagine many people would stand at the bottom of these steps and look up, freak out and turn around and walk away. Some would stand there and debate it. Some might even stand there and complain for a few minutes. Especially when the sun is out and shining so bright you can’t even really see where the stairs end. Or it’s hot. Or it’s about to rain. Or their knees aren’t good. Or their hips aren’t quite right. There will always be an excuse. What is your excuse?

The proper name is Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. It’s 280 steps from the top to the bottom, with a few breaks for merging hiking trails in between. The stairs are made of dirt, mud, stone and some concrete here and there. Some of them are broken, especially at the beginning. Some are higher than others, some are covered in mud and some are lopsided. In fact, the first half of the stairs is pretty much a mess, but you have to get through the first half to get to the second half. The reward is getting to the top. Once you catch your breath, you can see all of Los Angeles. Smog aside…on a clear day it is simply magnificent.

I have been climbing these stairs for over three years now. I have seen rain turn them into an almost virtual mudslide. I have seen the spring turn that mud into grass and flowers. From the top of these stairs I have laughed. I have cried. I have thought about some major decisions. I have screamed at the top of my lungs. I have brought people I loved there to share the beautiful view from the top. I even took someone special to watch the sun set once.

There are so many different people who attempt (and succeed) climbing these stairs. I see athletes decked out in their weight vests and heart monitors trying to make their next big fitness gain. I pass young moms and dads with their babies strapped in baby backpacks. There is no shortage of overzealous little boys and girls trying desperately to beat one another on a race to the top. I pass a few older adults, in their sunglasses and sun hats. Of course, there are many overweight people. For many of them, just getting up the stairs one time would be amazing. Maybe getting to the top once will be all the motivation they need to come back and do two sets next time. I look at all these people and remember why I want a career in nutrition. Maybe I can help motivate them. Who knows, maybe one of them will even motivate me.

What is it that drives you? There are many things that drive me. This post is only about one of them. Wanting to reach the top and climbing over whatever is in my way to get there. It is an uphill battle and you might have to stop and catch your breath at some points. I want to reach the top no matter how lopsided or muddy or far apart each stair is from the next. The ultimate goal is to experience the view from the top of the stairs and the feeling when you look out over the horizon and see how far you have come.