stuffed acorn squash

All of my favorite fall flavors, stuffed into the cavity of a squash and roasted with maple syrup and ghee. This recipe was created while studying for my certification in culinary nutrition. It’s a warming, gut-healing meal with lots of fiber to support a healthy digestive system.

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Key ingredients:
– Acorn Squash: 
High in Vitamin B1, which promotes muscle tone in the digestive tract and aids in the production of stomach acid essential for proper digestion.
– Lentils: Contains folic acid, which also helps promote stomach acid production and, in conjunction with Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C, helps us metabolize protein, which is also highly present in lentils. A deficiency may lead to gastrointestinal issues like IBS.
– Apples: The pectin, a soluble fiber, in apples helps promote regularity by binding with the fruit’s insoluble fiber.
Almonds: Contains zinc. A deficiency in zinc can cause digestive issues, especially since this mineral is a component of over 300 different enzymes, including digestive enzymes like stomach acid.

NOTE: This recipe looks like a lot, but everything finishes around the same time, I promise 🙂

Recipe:
Serves: 2

1 acorn squash, washed
2 tbsp ghee, divided (1 tbsp melted)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp maple syrup
½ cup dried lentils (green or brown)
1 cup water
½ cup chopped red onion
1 apple, peeled and diced
Salt, to taste
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp chopped almonds (or briefly pulsed through food processor)
¼ cup dried unsulphured cranberries, optional

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. The easiest way to do this is with a paring knife, starting at the top (avoid the stem), piercing the squash then pushing down, pull back out and repeat until you’ve made your way around to the other side, then pull apart. You’ll have more control with the paring knife and will be less likely to cut off a finger! You may also want to use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds – it helps cut the fibers attached to the seeds.
  3. Mix together 1 tbsp melted ghee and 1 tbsp maple syrup, generously brush the insides of the squash with this mixture and place the squash cut-side up on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Be generous with your brushing, but make sure to reserve some to brush after roasting.
  4. Roast squash for 30-40 minutes or until you can pierce the skin very easily with your knife.
  5. While the squash is roasting, rinse lentils well in a mesh sieve and transfer to a small saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender. Add water as needed to keep lentils covered while still cooking.
  6. While the lentils are cooking, heat remaining 1 tbsp ghee in a pan on medium heat and add onions. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  7. Mix in apples and cook until softened (not mushy), about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  8. Once lentils are done cooking, strain and add to the apples and onions. Add remaining 1 tsp maple syrup and season with salt and cinnamon.
  9. Stir in chopped almonds, and cranberries, if using.
  10. Brush squash once more with the ghee/maple mixture. Divide lentil stuffing in two portions and spoon a heaping amount into each squash half. Serve hot. You may have leftover stuffing depending on the size of your squash, which you can use as a side for a grilled-chicken lunch the next day!

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