This weeks dinner featured a stuffed roasted acorn squash, roast balsamic beets with goat cheese and a spinach salad with pears and pecans. Numerous studies over the past decades have clearly shown that a diet rich in plant-based foods tends to lower the risk of chronic disease. Plant-based foods are usually rich with antioxidants. Antioxidants mop up free radicals which damage cells and cause chronic inflammation and make us age. As we get older, it is recommended we move more towards a plant-based diet.
Yesterday I spent a good part of the afternoon cooking and experimenting. Some of it worked and some of it definitely didn’t. I wanted to try a millet bread recipe I received from “living without” (a gluten-free magazine) but the results were not good. I think I had a lot to do with it’s failure because I did not have any millet flour and I decided to improvise by putting whole millet in the blender to grind it down into flour.
Whole millet Ground millet after 5 minutes grinding
I wonder why the bread didn’t turn out!!
We also did not have any “full fat yogurt” in the fridge. Dennis has an intolerance for dairy but he does not react the same way to goat milk so I often have goat yogurt on hand. The goat yogurt we had, was definitely not full fat. The result of the bread was a loaf that collapsed as soon as I took it out of the loaf pan, and when I sliced it there was a giant space under the crust that you could put your hand in (depending on how long your arm is you could probably put your arm in up to your elbow). It was very disappointing but the flavour was pretty good. Sometime this week I’ll try the recipe again using the proper millet flour and a full fat yogurt. However, if you would like to try it, here’s a link to the recipe: http://www.livingwithout.com/recipes/rosemary_bread-3224-1.html
The middle of this fell and when I took it out of the pan the whole thing collapsed.
Now, on to something that did work!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
This week’s recipe has some flexibility depending on your taste preference. I used onions, mushrooms, brown rice, chard, broccoli and some home made pesto. In the past however, I have replaced the pesto with chevre cheese, and added rosemary, dried cranberries and nuts. It’s really up to you as to what you want to stuff the squash with.
Here’s the recipe:
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- ½ an onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ cup broccoli flowers cut into bite sized pieces
- Two leaves of chard cut into ½ in pieces (remove the ribs and cut up to sauté with onions)
- 5-7 mushrooms chopped into pieces
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 3 Tbsp. fresh pesto
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium sized acorn squash
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut and seed squash and place in baking pan with ½ “ water covering the base. Place squash cut side down in liquid and put in the oven for 30-45 minutes. (the time depends on how large your squash is – the larger it is the more time you need).
- While squash is cooking, sauté vegetables together starting with coconut oil. Add onions and chopped chard ribs if using, broccoli and garlic cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add chard and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add rice and fresh pesto and turn mix until thoroughly combined. Turn the heat off and wait until the squash is done.
- Take squash out of the oven when it feels 2/3’s of the way done – it should be solid but soft – not hard.
- Put the vegetable mixture in the cup portion of the squash and brush the exposed part of the squash with a bit of butter. Place the stuffed squash back in the oven for 30 minutes or until you feel it’s cooked.
- The cooking time is totally dependent on the size of the squash and how ripe it is. If you don’t cook it enough – it is tough to eat. If you cook it too much it is mushy. I’m sorry I can’t give you a definitive amount of time, but if you stick a fork in the fleshy part of the squash you’ll be able to tell how close to being cooked it is.
Roast Balsamic Beets with Goat Cheese:
I went to a cooking class last week when I was in Toronto and listened to a Registered Nutritionist about how to eat to build immunity. Her name was Anita Sauvé and her website is: www.gocooking.ca . As it turned out, I came home with a second set of recipes which included one for roasted beets so I though I would try them out. To say they were delicious is an understatement. I love roasted beets naked, but when you add the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and goat cheese they are divine!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 lb beets
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2-3 oz. soft un-ripened goat cheese (chevre)
- Chopped parsley for garnish.
- Wash beets, cut into quarters and place in glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast beets in 350 degree oven in glass dish covered in aluminum foil. (I used medium sized beets and this took about 1 hour.)
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly and peel (with gloves on the peel just slips off or use paper towel)
- Chop into chunks
- Meanwhile, mix maple syrup with balsamic vinegar and reduce over low heat until slightly thickened.
- Toss with beets and sprinkle with goat cheese & parsley.
- OMG these are heavenly!!
Dessert was a bit of custard (cooked in the Crockpot – no standing by the stove stirring and waiting for it to thicken) over meringues topped with stewed rhubarb and strawberries. I told my mom I wanted to make sure she got enough protein with dinner. Dessert is her favourite thing.
This meal was very filling and it felt like we were eating a wonderful collection of plant-based foods. Once again, this dinner is definitely worthy of serving to guests.
I selected squash this week because it is a good source of Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, calcium and Magnesium. It is also a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese. I try very hard to serve meals that have at least three different colours to them. This is a good practice to insure you are getting a variety of nutrients and vitamins.
Please visit us again next week for another edition of Sunday Night Dinner at Julia’s Place. We will already be into February!