Monday, November 7, 2011

Take The Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge and Get a Healthy Holiday Recipe

carnival squash

It's here. The holiday season. That joyous time of year when you suddenly experience murderous feelings in the mall parking lot, when you send Christmas cards to people you're not even sure you know, and when you're constantly struggling between whether to have that second piece of peppermint fudge or to stay on your diet. Fun times.

Here's some help. Skip the parking lot and shop online. Forget the cards; that's so pre-2011. Use Facebook instead. As for the fudge? Stop after one piece; that way you can have a piece of shortbread at the next party.

And if you really want to feel good take The Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge spearheaded by Cathy of What Would Cathy Eat? At the age of 44, Cathy underwent major heart surgery for a blocked artery. Two stents later, she recovered but realized she had to start eating more healthfully. While she no longer noshes on decadent desserts and bbq every night, she believes (and I agree) that healthy eating is NOT an excuse for bland food. Healthy food can and should be delicious food.

If you too believe healthy holiday eating can be fabulous, then consider taking the challenge and sharing your recipe with Cathy. I'm sharing a recipe for Minted Apple and Almond Stuffed Carnival Squash that I make all the time. Why? Because it's easy, attractive, healthy, and delicious. So, enjoy it guilt-free.

minted apple and almond stuffed carnival squash

Minted Apple and Almond Stuffed Carnival Squash
Makes 4 halves or 8 if you cut them into quarters
Printable recipe.

2 small carnival squash (about 1/2-3/4 pounds each, cut in half, seeds removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 small, crisp, mildly tart apples, such as Pink Lady, Gravenstein, or Pippin
The juice of 1/2 small lemon
A couple of pinches of salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped, lightly toasted almonds, plus extra for garnish
1-2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped mint, plus extra for garnish
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Slice acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Brush flesh with a bit of olive oil and place flesh side down on prepared baking sheet. Cook 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

2. In a medium skillet, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add shallot and saute 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add apples, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, or until apples are just tender. Remove from heat. Taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in the almonds and mint.

3. Divide filling equally among the four squash halves and heat in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Before serving, garnish with chopped almonds and chopped fresh mint, and drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Here are more healthy squash recipes you might enjoy:
White Bean and Kale Stuffed Delicata Squash recipe from Eat Local
Roasted Kabocha Squash with Orange Honey Glaze recipe from Food Blogga
Agave and Balsamic Glazed Roasted Buttercup Squash recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen
Roasted Acorn Squash with Honey-Lime Glazed Pepitas recipe from Food Blogga
Roasted Winter Squash with Cranberries, Pepitas, and Honey-Lime Vinaigrette from The Perfect Pantry