Honey Coconut Roasted Acorn Squash

Fall in Southern California is somewhat different than the fall I am accustomed to.  Even though I’ve lived here for three years, each year I still find myself longing for fall.  The fall I remember from the east coast- the crisp air, blue skies, colorful mountain and hill sides, crunchy leaves, lots of hiking, fresh apples, pumpkin farms, dried corn stalks, scarves, sweaters, tall boots, I could go on.  Here, it takes a bit more effort to foster a feeling of fall, especially since it has been in the mid-80’s this week!  It’s not quite time for scarves, sweaters, and boots……at least, not yet.  For some of the elements that I find myself missing, I need to remember patience.  That in a few weeks or months, I too will be able to wear a cozy scarf but for now, I should enjoy my shorts and sundresses for a bit longer.  For others, we work to create and savor them in our household.  

After a recent trip to Massachusetts, we brought back Mackintosh apples, fresh ginger, and garlic from the local farmer’s market.  I enjoyed an apple every day for almost two weeks.  Since living in California, I’ve found myself loving Mackintosh apples even more than before I moved.  I think I always took their constant presence for granted.  

One way we enjoy fall is in the kitchen.  Making plenty of squash and pumpkin dishes.  This roasted acorn squash roasted with honey, coconut oil, and thyme has been a favorite lately.  We first made it a couple of weeks ago and since then, we have already made it three more times, because it is just THAT good.  This last time was the first time that I was able to get a picture.  Each of the previous times, we ate it too quickly for me to snap a picture.

Acorn Squash

Honey Coconut Roasted Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

1 generous tablespoon melted raw honey

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and cut the acorn squash in half.  Remove the seeds (save for roasting later).  Place the squash in a shallow baking dish with the center facing up.  Mix the melted coconut oil, melted raw honey, apple cider vinegar, and dried thyme in a small bowl.  Divide the sauce evenly between the two squash halves, pouring into the center.  Using a brush, coat the inside of the squash with the sauce.  Bake until the squash is soft, approximately 40 to 60 minutes.  Every 20 minutes, use a brush to coat the squash with the sauce.  Enjoy!

* For the seeds- I wash them and then roast them for 5-10 minutes on a rimmed metal baking sheet at 400 degrees.  You can top them with this about anything- I’ve done salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

 

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Spring Rolls

Lately we have been enjoying spring rolls for lunch.  These are light yet filling and they keep us feeling satisfied well after lunch.  What I love about them is that they are flexible.  The possibilities of what you include in them are endless.  I tend to always include a combination of textures, flavors, and levels of crunchiness.  Not too crunchy and not to soft.

I usually make them the night before and store them in the fridge so they are ready for Cathrine to take when she leaves for work early (like 6am early!).

Ingredients (serves 2, makes 4 spring rolls)

Spring Rolls

  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 organic carrot
  • 1 stalk organic celery
  • 4 slices of jicama
  • 4 organic red leaf lettuce leaves
  • 2 slices organic firm tofu
  • 12 organic basil leaves

* I’ve also used mint or cilantro instead of basil, spinach instead of red leaf lettuce, rice noodles instead of tofu, endive instead of jicama.

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons Braggs
  • 2 teaspoons organic Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic peanut butter (we use fresh ground, low salt)
  • A generous sprinkle of organic garlic powder

Spring Roll Preparation and Assembly

Wash, peel, and slice the carrot lengthwise into four pieces then cut in half (making 8 slices).

Wash and cut the celery stalk the same way as the carrot.

Wash, peel, and slice the jicama into four small pieces.

Wash and break each red leaf lettuce leaf in half.

Cut two slices of tofu and then divide each slice into four pieces.

Elements of one roll

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Group the ingredients together for each roll.  This allows for quick and easy assembly once the spring roll wrappers are ready.

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Spring roll wrappers

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In a shallow sauce pan, heat enough water so you can fully submerge one spring roll wrapper.  The water should be warm but not hot.  Once it is this temperature, turn off the burner.  Evenly submerge a spring roll wrapper into the water and wait until it is soft (about 30 seconds, depending on how warm the water is).

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Place the wrapper on a thin towel, place the filling on top, and roll the spring roll.

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After the spring roll is wrapped, place a new spring roll wrapper into the water and repeat the steps again.  I like to use two spring roll wrappers on each spring roll.  If the water gets too cool, just heat it back up again.

Dipping Sauce

In a small container, combine Braggs, organic olive oil, organic peanut butter, and a generous sprinkle of organic garlic powder.

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Stir until well combined.

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I usually divide it into two containers for Cathrine to take one to work so I can have one for my lunch too.

Enjoy dipped in a little sauce!

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Let us know if you try them and what you like in your spring rolls!  We could love to hear.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

When I was in graduate school, we were fans of making our lives throughout the week as easy as possible.  We believed (and still do) in leftovers.  And we stretch them for as long as we can.  Our weeks had a tendency to be busy and so we tried to reduce the amount of cooking dinners from scratch throughout the week as we could.  Making a vegetable and lunch for the next day is enough.  (More on how we’ve managed to simplify this even more later).

I am a vegetarian and Cathrine is mainly a at-home-vegetarian; she only eats meat when we go out to eat or are with friends and it is served (besides for the occasional piece of bacon or turkey bacon with Sunday brunch.  She claims it wasn’t hard to transition to eating less meat, but part of me wonders if that is because anytime I cook anything with meat in it, I really cook it.  As in I make sure it is dead, there is no slightly uncooked component.  Clearly, I don’t know how to cook meat.  I don’t even really know how to eat it.  But I do know that the smell of BBQ is the one time that I only slightly imagine what it would be like if I ate meat.  It’s kind of like I have a love affair with BBQ and just by imagining being with BBQ, I am cheating on Vegetarian.  I’m obsessed with the smell.

This still is one of our favorite recipes and has nothing to do with BBQ.  It is incredibly easy, makes plenty for yummy leftovers, and is very filling and satisfying- a perfect combination of sweet and spicy.  The black beans, quinoa flour, almond meal, and chia seed flour provide some protein.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

In the mix-

  • Black beans (1 to 2 cans, depends on how many you want to make)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes (with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, allspice) mashed after roasting
  • Caramelized red onions
  • Green beans (steamed)
  • Sprinkle of cheese (we used goat cheese because that is what we had on hand)

Sweet Potatoes  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash, peel, and cut sweet potatoes into cubes.  Spray a light coat of olive oil on glass baking dish and place cubed sweet potatoes in dish.  Sprinkle evenly with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and allspice.  Bake until these are soft when pricked with a fork (about 45 minutes).

Once the sweet potatoes are done roasting, mashing them by using either a fork or the flat surface of a bottom of a cup.

                                           Seasoned sweet potatoes after roasting                                     

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Black Beans

Open the black beans and drain and rinse them.  Place them into a nonstick skillet and sautéed on medium heat until they begin to look a bit cooked.  Approximately 10 minutes.

Black beans lightly sautéed before roasting

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Green Beans

Wash and cut green beans into about 1 inch long pieces then lightly steam them.

Tortillas

For the tortillas we use the Spunky Coconut’s Tortilla Wrap recipe.  For the milk substitute we use almond milk.  We have made these quite a few times and every time we do we always enjoy them.

Final Assembly and Baking

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and place the unbaked tortillas directly on the baking sheet.  Then layer all of the ingredients (sweet potatoes, lightly sautéed black beans, and steamed green beans)  with the goat cheese and caramelized onions last.  Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so at 400 degrees.

*This time we didn’t cook them in between parchment paper.  In the past I have made the tortillas smaller so we use one on the top and one on the bottom.  I first bake them in the oven, then I add the toppings and toast both sides in a pan on the stove top.  We enjoy them both ways.

After baking add Cholula for some spice on top

We ate this meal on our old deck.  We just couldn’t get enough of the warm summer evenings!  On the side we had beet chutney.

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