Warm Kale and Butternut Squash Salad

Warm kale salads are my fave. I get into patterns where I want to eat this salad every day for weeks so I am perplexed as to why I have not yet posted it. Better late than never to share with the world, I suppose! While this salad started out dressed with both tahini and sriracha, I made it a little more “clean” by adding in cayenne and ginger with the tahini instead of sriracha. Sometimes I mix it up but as I am posting this before the “jump start” week for the new 13 week wellness program pilot at the NAC, I went with this version since sriracha always has added sugar and xanthan gum (even if you choose Organicville or Trader Joe’s¬†brands).

Warm Kale and Butternut Squash Salad (GF, V, DF)

Ingredients (for one serving):

1.5 C chopped Kale (any variety)
.5 C diced butternut squash (pre-cooked)
1/4 C diced onion
2 teaspoons sesame tahini
Ground black pepper, ground ginger and cayenne powder to taste
1 teaspoon hemp seeds

Directions:

Heat a small pan over low-medium
Add diced onion and cover 1-2 minutes
Add a splash of water to keep onion from sticking, stir.
Add kale and butternut squash as well as 1-2 tbsp of water and cover immediately. The steam from the water should keep contents from sticking and quickly soften the kale without over-cooking.
After 1-2 minutes, remove cover, sprinkle with black pepper, ginger and cayenne.
Transfer contents to a small serving bowl and drizzle tahini over top.
Sprinkle hemp seeds over the salad and serve!

Kale never gets old for me – please share your favorite way to enjoy this nutrient packed “superfood”!

Spiced Butternut Squash and Leek Soup (w/ roasted seeds and baked beet chips)

I love pumpkin as my previous couple of posts have shown, but I think I like another source of carotenoids even more. I’m not talking about sweet potatoes, even though I love those year round too, I am talking about butternut squash! It is great roasted because you can eat it by itself, on a salad, on pizza, or even in an omelet, but soup just hits the spot as the weather gets cooler. Many butternut squash soups are absolutely filled with cream, butter, salt, more cream and more salt. Not only are those ingredients that anyone should be limiting in their diet, but they also totally take away from butternut squash’s already great flavor! In this recipe, I compliment that great flavor with garlic, leeks and rosemary. The last time I made the soup , I thought to add freshly baked beet chips and I must say I have to give myself a pat on the back! The sweet yet earthy flavors of the chips were a perfect compliment and added great texture too!

spiced butternut squash leek soup

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Maple Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts & Cranberries

There are SO many possibilities with a butternut squash and below is a great option for a Thanksgiving side dish. We’ve been enjoying it at our Thanksgiving table for at least 6 years now!


This colorful and flavorful dish gives you a feeling of fullness without packing in lots of excess fat or sugar. Plus, it has Brussels sprouts, which I literally could eat everyday! In addition to standing alone as a side dish, this recipe is perfect over a green salad with your preferred source of protein.

Need more healthy, but delicious Thanksgiving recipes? Check out this easy Refined-Sugar Free Cranberry Sauce, Butternut Squash and Leek Soup, and Black Rice and Squash Bowl.


Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts & Cranberries (GF, V, DF)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash (roughly 3 lbs), de-seeded, peel cut off and flesh cubed into 1/2 inch pieces**
  • 1/2 stalk Brussel sprouts / about 30 pieces, halved or quartered
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoons 100% Pure maple syrup
  • Ground pepper and salt to taste

*Purchasing tips: it may look funny but buying an actual stalk of brussel sprouts means lower cost, and possibly higher nutrient content since you won’t slice and dice the veggie until very close to consumption. Same goes for buying a whole squash versus pre-cubed.

**You can cube & freeze the other half of the butternut squash to use at a later time, or double the recipe if you’ll have lots of Thanksgiving guests

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Prep vegetables and, if desired, slice cranberries in half.
  • Mix brussel sprouts and squash with the cranberries in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle oil and maple syrup over mixture and season with pepper and salt. Toss well.
  • Place mixture into 2 large baking dishes (If you use 1 you may have to cook for longer) and place in the oven.
  • Bake for a total of 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven, stirring every 10 minutes.

Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Eat a 1 Cup serving of Butternut Squash and you’ve hit 4x your Vitamin A needs for the day as well as half of your needs for vitamin C! You’ll even get Vitamins E and some B vitamins from this nutrient powerhouse as good amounts of magnesium and potassium. The carotenoids & bioflavonoids in butternut squash are known to boost immunity and work as antioxidants that support the hearth, eyes and even work to prevent some cancers.

Brussel Sprouts contain many antioxidant phytochemicals including sulfurophane which is found in research to aid the livers detoxifying actions and fight cancer cells in the body, especially linking to colon cancer. Another phytochemical group in brussel sprouts (isothiocyanates) has been linked to fighting bladder cancer. The vegetable is also a good source of Vitamins C, K and folate and even provides you with some omega-3!
Cranberries are a fruit that is very low in sugar. People may associate it as a sugary food because its often consumed as juice, dried & sweetened, or used as cranberry sauce (which means the addition of lots of sugar). A full cup of fresh cranberries contains more fiber than sugar (5g vs 4g)! The berries are bitter though so adding them to other dishes is a good way to balance flavors. Cranberries are rich in vitamins C, E, K, and the mineral manganese. These berries really pack in the phytochemicals though and contain flavonoids, flavonols, phenolic acids and proanthocyanidins. Some new research shows cranberries can protect from certain bacteria, inflammation, cardiovascular disease (1) and act against cancerous tumors (2).
Maple Syrup is a source of added sugar but can have some benefits if it is 100% pure and is used in moderation. it actually provides small amounts of calcium, iron, mangnesium & zinc. One study in 2010 found Canadian Maple Syrup to contain over 26 antioxidant compounds (3)!
Avocado oil is my go to when I am cooking. While olive oil has great flavor and a good fat profile, avocado oil actually has omega-3 and a higher smoke point making it better for cooking at medium to high temperatures.

References:
1. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2009 Oct; 49(9):741-81. Phytochemicals of cranberries and cranberry products: characterization, potential health effects, and processing stability. Pappas E, Schaich KM.
2. Am Society for Nutr 2007. Cranberry and Its Phytochemicals: A review of In Vitro Anticancer Studies. Neto CC.
3. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7708-16. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. Li L, Seeram NP.

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