Super Easy Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash, and Tasty Roasted Squash Seeds

Stuffed Squash 11-10-15 004I’m a writer, not a chef.  But I love cooking, and the writing muse has been making herself scarce lately, so I’ve been putting quite a bit of focus on finding satisfying recipes to help me transition to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle that I hope will help me to live a longer life than my parents.  So far, at age 55, I’ve outlived my father and am only 6 years away from the age that my mom was when passed of a massive heart attack.

Playing with a few recipes I’ve seen on Pinterest and going with the ingredients I have on hand (the last local crop box of the year contained a buttload of squash!), I threw this together for tonight’s dinner.

VEGAN STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and relieved of its pulp (Don’t throw away the pulp!  See below)
  • 2 tbsp. dairy-free butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp. organic brown sugar, divided.
  • 2 cups garlic & herb croutons
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (or enough to moisten the croutons)
  • 1 cup of Daiya or other dairy-free mozzarella shreds
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Score squash halves by running knife several times up and down, then across.  Spread 1 tbsp dairy-free butter over each squash half, then sprinkle 1 tbsp brown sugar over each half.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, mix croutons, vegetable broth, and dairy-free cheese shreds.  The broth should be just enough to moisten the croutons.
  4. Wrap each squash half in aluminum foil and place in casserole dish or on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for an hour.  The squash flesh should be tender when pierced with a fork.

Now, the best part!  TASTY ROASTED SQUASH SEEDS

While the squash is baking, separated the seeds from the pulp.  Rinse in a colander, making sure all pulp is removed.  Dry the seeds on a paper towel, toss in a small bowl with a little olive oil and salt (I used garlic salt, as I am a garlic fanatic).  Place scattered on baking sheet.  Once the stuffed squash is finished baking, turn the oven down to 300F, put the baking sheet with the seeds in the oven, and roast for 10 minutes.  I did this meaning to bring the seeds to work as a snack the next day, but they were so yummy that I ate them for dessert!

I must admit that I’ve never been a squash fan.  My mother, bless her heart, did not enjoy cooking and it showed.  She gave us squash that…well, let’s say I was put off for many years.  But I’ve been trying to put my picky eating ways behind me and open myself up to new things, especially now that I’m trying to commit to a lifestyle devoid of animal products.  When I found myself loving sweet potatoes (another food that is a dark memory from childhood – sorry, Mom!), that cracked open a door to more and more new things that I am willing to try.  Squash is one of them.

I can’t say that this recipe made me want squash as my be-all-and-end-all go-to, but the door is opening a little more.  I want to try a more ambitious stuffed squash – perhaps one that involves quinoa or something else unfamiliar.  Besides, I have all that squash from my crop box to use up.  I will learn to love it!

Pass the Veggies!

Veggie Buys 9-18-15 003

About 15 years ago, I made an attempt at becoming a vegetarian.  It lasted for about 2 weeks before I was back to cheeseburgers and t-bone steaks.  I hadn’t really known what I was doing, and it didn’t help that I’m an incredibly picky eater.  At that time, my thwarted attempt at vegetarianism was for health reasons.  My cholesterol was at 290, and my family has a history of heart disease.  My mom and grandfather (Mom’s dad) literally dropped dead of massive heart attacks.  Mom was only 62.

This time around, it’s for those same health reasons, plus an epiphany I had about a month and a half ago.  I saw the documentary “Vegucated” and saw some things I had never known about the cruelty of the meat and dairy farming industries.  No, wait!  Don’t stop reading!  I’m not here to proselytize or change anyone’s eating habits.  I’m just recounting my own personal journey.  Are we good now?

Anyway, after “Vegucated” was over, I swore that I was a vegan from that moment forward.  I really meant it.  Unfortunately, my veganism lasted for less than a day.  Once again, I’d jumped into something without really knowing what I was doing.

However, I didn’t give up entirely.  I figured there was no reason why I couldn’t start cutting my use of meat and dairy way down, and take the vegetarian road in baby steps.  The first thing I cut out entirely was milk.  I replaced dairy milk with almond milk.  The picture you see with this entry is my very first veggie-centric shopping trip, complete with almond milk, dairy-free butter substitute, and loads of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The first couple of weeks were really hard.  With my mind also on my health, I began eating fruit instead of the cakes, cookies and chocolate I love.  (Can we say major sweet tooth?)  That was harder than anything else, quite frankly.  The good thing about being a wannabe vegan these days is that there are so many products now that weren’t widely available a few years ago – vegan mayonnaise, dairy-free cream cheese, even fake bacon (which really isn’t too bad).

I’ve also watched other documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives” which promote plant-based diets, and have stocked up on vegetarian cookbooks such as both of the Thug Kitchen cookbooks and Mary McCartney’s “At My Table.”  I already had one of Mary’s mum Linda McCartney’s cookbooks from my first attempt at going veg.

I’ve already lost 10 pounds since I began this journey.  Oh yes, did I mention that this is another incentive?

Even as I write this, I have a couple of carrots marinating.  Instead of hot dogs, I’m going to have…yes, carrot dogs!  I found the recipe in the Thug Kitchen “Party Grub” cookbook and loved their description of ordering carrot dogs at an L.A. hot dog place and were prepared to mock it, but ended up ordering two more.  I’d rather have a real vegetable than fake meat, so I’m giving it a try.