I hope you bought some acorn squash at the farmers market this morning because I’m really excited to share this meal! I absolutely love fall foods, especially squash. I usually stick to cooking the spaghetti or butternut varieties but wanted to try something different and picked up a couple acorn squash last week.
Like other squash its baked by slicing it in half, but this one you slice horizontally so that you can dig out the few seeds and have a small bowl for healthy fillings. There are a variety of combinations you can stuff acorn squash with but I looked around the kitchen and decided on quinoa, organic free range chicken, kale and onion. I added some seasoning and was very happy with how the dish turned out and will for sure be making it again. It’s a great option for athletes because of the higher protein content, healthy carbohydrates and abundance of vitamins and minerals.
Stuffed Acorn Squash (GF, DF)
2 large acorn squash (mine were about 6″ diameter)
1 1/2 Cups cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp cooking oil of choice (I prefer avocado)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 Cup chopped yellow onion
3/4 lb free-range chicken breasts, diced
2 packed Cups chopped kale
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp each of cayenne, black pepper, garlic powder
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F
- While the oven is warming up, rinse your squash and then cut each in half horizontally so that you have top and bottom halves (see pic below). Then, dig out the seeds (I save mine & roast for a snack). Dab a little oil on your finger and rub onto the flat surface of the squash so it doesn’t stick to the pan.Place the halves face down on a non-stick baking sheet and pop in the oven for about 40 minutes.
While your squash is cooking, prepare the filling.
- Cook your quinoa according to the package. I use the Trader Joe’s brand organic and prepared a full cup dry which gives about 2.5 cups cooked. It’s nice having some leftover to throw on salads for a quick meal.
- Add 1 Tablespoon canola oil to a large saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the minced garlic & chopped onion and stir.
- Cover, stirring about once per minute for about 3-5 minutes (watch so that it does not burn).
- Turn the heat up to medium and add the diced chicken as well as your seasonings.
- Cook chicken 7-10 minutes depending on your stove, depending on how finely you diced it.
- Cover the chicken and stir occasionally. If you have a meat thermometer (which everyone should have) the center of a piece of chicken should heat to 165 degrees. I make sure I cut the chicken big enough so that I can test the temperature accurately, and then I can break it up smaller later if I want.
- While chicken is cooking, rinse & chop your kale. Before chopping, remove the center stalk/stem.
- Once the chicken is cooked, turn off the heat, add the chopped kale and stir until mixed. Within a minute it should reduce in volume. Add 1.5 Cups of your quinoa and stir.
- Take your squash out of the oven when the time is up. Flip the squash over. Remove 1-2 tablespoons of each half and add stir into the chicken & quinoa mixture.
- Scoop even amounts of the mixture into each squash half and serve!
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Acorn Squash, on top of the fiber it provides, packs in Vitamins A, C, B1, and B6. It is a fantastic source of potassium, which many Americans do not get enough of, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, and magnesium. The phytochemicals in acorn squash protect your lungs (great for endurance athletes) and eyes especially.
Quinoa is my favorite grain! It is considered a complete protein source for vegetarians meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. This is a big deal for vegetarians and especially vegans. While its protein powers are the key benefit of this food, you’ll also get iron, potassium, magnesium & zinc and many B vitamins in good amounts.
Chicken obviously is a great source of lean protein. But one servings packs lots of niacin (almost all you need in a day) and is a good source of selenium, potassium and absorbable iron. I advocate always choosing organic free range poultry. It means the chickens were never treated with hormones or antibiotics (so you won’t be either) and they were raised ethically.
Kale is known as a “super food”. One serving gives you more than your daily need of Vitamins A, C and K. It is also a known vegetarian source of calcium and iron as well as magnesium and copper. In terms of phytochemicals, kale provides about 40 flavonoids which are great antioxidants.
Onions are a good source of Vitamins C & B6, folate and even provides potassium & magnesium. Onions are packed with phytochemicals known to promote cardiovascular and respiratory health.
Garlic provides a lot of the same benefits as onions including the phytochemical allicin as well as sulfides. Research on garlic links it to an improved immune system.
Calories: 365 (Calories may vary based on size of squash)
Total Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.5 g
Cholesterol: 70 mg
Carbohydrate: 44 g
Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 32 g
Sodium: 90 mg 2 % Potassium: 1,250 mg 27 %
Vitamin A: 50% Thiamin: 37% Riboflavin: 21%
Niacin: 98% Pant Acid: 40% Vitamin B6: 12%
Vitamin B12: 12% Vitamin C: 80% Vitamin E: 6%
Calcium: 15% Iron: 25% Zinc: 20%
Magnesium: 38% Copper: 50% Selenium: 45 %
Manganese: 65% Phosphorus: 54% Omega 3: 30% (0.48 g)
**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more
than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns