squash season

Squash that Urge

Somewhere around the end of August I started seeing the tweets and facebook comments and blog posts…”Is it PUMPKIN LATTE SEASON YET?” I think what we need is an illustration about the phenomenon by the very talented Shelby, don’t you? I have to admit, I don’t get it. I don’t understand the hype, I don’t understand why the frenzy starts so early and why everyone is just so obsessed about pumpkin everything!

Don’t get me wrong. I love pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorites (and kind of my kryptonite). Last year I made an amazing pumpkin bread that was homey and delicious and I will most definitely be making it again this year. But those pumpkin spice coffee drinks just don’t appeal to me. I was intrigued, at first, because of all the excitement about it. I decided I want to give it a try. Not to be a downer or anything, but then I looked up the calorie count of one of those babies and it totally turned me off. Depending on where you go and what size you get, a pumpkin spice latte runs between 250-500 calories. OH! So that’s why everyone likes them! They are dessert! Dessert drinks used to be my specialty! I loved those white chocolate mochas with caramel sauce, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. I’ll admit, I’m still curious and would like to try one but I just can’t justify spending 400 calories on a drink.

I found a much better option. Check out this girl’s recipe for a homemade pumpkin spice latte. It’s less than 100 calories total. Now THAT’S something I’d give a try…but haven’t yet because it takes two hours. Someone let me know how it is. 🙂

Since it’s squash season and I love everything squash or pumpkin, I decided to give something else a try.

Pecan and Wild Rice-Stuffed Squash

Category: calories, Dinner, food, Food update, portions, recipes, veggies, Weekend Update

From: http://hippieitch.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/pecan-and-wild-rice-stuffed-squash

Ingredients

  • 2 small acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pecan halves
  • 2 Celery stalks

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil 2 baking sheets. Cut each squashes in half from the stem to the tip. Scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on the baking sheets. Bake from 20 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. Let cool. Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cook the wild rice in the water, simmering until it is tender and starting to split. If there is any excess water, drain the rice in a strainer.
  3. Finely chop the sage and parsley. In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the celery, onion, and sage over medium heat until just softened. Stir in the parsley, marjoram, pepper, nutmeg, and salt, and take the pan off the heat.
  4. When the squash halves are cool, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a bit behind to keep the skins from tearing. In a large bowl, mash the flesh coarsely and reserve. Select 16 intact pecan halves for garnish, then use a food processor to grind the remaining pecans to powder (I just finely chop them).
  5. Add the ground pecans, the sauteed mixture, and the wild rice to the squash in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Stuff the mixture into the squash shells and top with the reserved pecan halves. Place in a casserole or baking dish large enough to hold all of the squash halves. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops feel firm to the touch.

Nutrition Facts

Pecan and Wild Rice-Stuffed Squash

Serves

Amount Per Serving
Calories About 600
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Sugars
Protein
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

http://www.110pounds.com/?p=34242

This recipe was a bit on the complicated side, but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Just plan ahead and expect to spend a lot of time making the elements. OR use leftovers to stuff the squash. If you have leftover rice already cooked, I would use that for the mixture. Quinoa would be a good substitute, too.

I used Black Rice. When I went to the store to get the last few ingredients I needed, I didn’t see wild rice in my store but the black rice was on sale. I’ve never had it before so I thought I’d give it a try. It was kind of strange watching it cook because it turned the water purple and then black. I was excited to try something new.

I made a few minor changes, like the black rice instead of wild. I also used pineapple sage because that was the kind of sage I had in our garden. Michael also wanted to add some protein to the dish, so we cooked up some chicken breasts. I ended up having half of a boneless chicken breast because honestly, the squash was enough food for me.

I mixed everything together in a bowl. It was a big mess but it tasted GREAT. You know your recipe is a good one when you’re snacking on it while you cook and it tastes delicious.

While the final product baked in the oven, Michael cooked the chicken in a skillet with just salt and pepper. And we debated on whether I bought pecans or walnuts. I’m 99% sure I got pecans. He was skeptical. I stand by that 99%!

I had a bunch of leftovers after stuffing the squash so I saved it have for lunch later in the week. My final product was not so photogenic. You should check out the original recipe to see something pretty. 🙂

While it wasn’t pretty looking, it was delicious tasting. I absolutely loved it. Michael liked it a lot. He said it could have used a little more salt and I agreed. I loved the nutty flavor of the pecans and the black rice with the sweetness of the squash. The celery and onions had a nice crunch to them and all of the flavors went really well together. I think next time I’ll chop up the chicken breast into small pieces and just mix it into the squash.

I was glad that I hadn’t ground up the pecans and instead had roughly chopped them but kept them kind of large before I mixed it into the rice. It was delightful getting a crunchy piece of nut in a bite of squash and rice. Definitely give this recipe a try! I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to making it again.

QUESTION: Are you a pumpkin latte fan? Have you ever made stuffed squash?

Take it Easy

I’m not really a “take it easy” kind of girl. I tend to have one speed: go, go, go. It’s very difficult for me to rest, or go slow. Perhaps the inflammation in my knees is my body’s way of telling me it’s time to rest for a bit. Right, right, right. Gotcha knees! You don’t have to keep reminding me.

Last Friday night I went to the pool and swam 1.75 miles in 55 minutes. I used the buoy for about 95% of the swim. I only did a few laps where I attempted kicking with my legs. While it didn’t hurt, I didn’t want to push it. When I got home, feeling okay, I had blackened salmon, caprese salad and peas for dinner. I was so hungry I didn’t take a picture. 🙂

Saturday morning, I ate a small breakfast before heading to the gym. I toasted a piece of Dave’s Killer Bread, put cream cheese and tomato slices on it, and had 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt with some raisins and peanuts in it. Kind of a weird breakfast but it was tasty and got me through my workout.

Since I’m giving my knees a rest, I skipped the bike, treadmill and elliptical. It was kind of a bummer but only for a moment. I got over it quickly when I started focusing on my routine. I warmed up on the row machine for 5 minutes and then spent 30 minutes doing a weight workout. Here was my routine:

  • Kettlebell Swings (I used the 10 pound kettlebell since it’s been months since I’ve really done it)
  • Single Leg Deadlift Reverse Fly (this turned out to be really fun!)
  • Russian Twist (with a 10 pounds plate weight–again, it’s been months since I’ve really focused on my core…bad Lisa!)
  • Shoulder Press (with two 15 pound weights–I WAS using 20 pounders a few months ago but…had to scale it back)
  • Pushups
  • Planks

I did this routine for 30 minutes. I didn’t count how many reps I did but I was a sweaty, hot, quivering mess after I was done. I really, really liked the Single Leg Deadlift Reverse Fly! It was my first time trying it. I usually steer clear of anything “Dead lift” because I am wary of injuring my back doing it wrong. But this one particular exercise was a lot of fun. I used two 5 pound kettlebells for it and even though it looks easy, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I discovered I do not have very good balance/stability on one foot. This is something I need to do more often, I guess.

After that I used the machines to lift weights. I spent an hour doing that and finishing up with lots of stretching and foam rolling. My hope is that a week or two of taking it easy is all I need.

It’s been 2 years since I’ve had an injury that had me take a break. I guess that’s a really good streak of luck…I tried not to think about my knees too much, even though I was feeling frustrated that I had so many limitations. Even with the IT Band issues I had two years ago, I could still bike and walk. This particular injury is really hard to deal with.

I grabbed some lunch from Jade Bistro–I’d been craving the salad rolls since I had them with my friend Sam. I got an order of the shrimp and chicken salad rolls, and then the grilled tofu salad. The salad had sweet and sour sesame dressing to go with it, and of course peanut sauce for the rolls. It was so good! This might be my latest obsession. I want to make my own salad rolls at home. I need to try that.

I ate half of both and saved the rest for Sunday’s lunch. It hit the spot. It felt healthy and hearty. I took it easy the rest of the day. I got caught up on some TV shows (holy crap premieres of SVU and Grey’s Anatomy!!!). My knees were feeling good. I had no pain or inflammation in them and when I walked it didn’t feel like they were slipping out of their spot. It’s hard to describe how they’ve been feeling since that crappy run I did. But I’m glad I felt relatively normal after taking a week off from knee exercises.

Dinner was marinated steak, squash, and caprese salad (can you tell we need to go grocery shopping for some veggies?!). Michael’s first week at his new job went really well, but he was out late every night (which was good) so shopping wasn’t really a priority. I was content to eating easy foods on my own.

I love that squash season is back! Squash is one of my favorite fall and winter veggies. I usually just make them simply, baked with some butter, salt and pepper. But I really want to give the baked acorn squash with brown sugar a try. I’ve never had it because it sounds like it’s overly sweet but…I’m kinda dying to try it! Do you have a recipe that you like?

Anyway, I’m trying to be good and let my body rest. It’s hard. Very very hard.

QUESTION: Can you take it easy?