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Tuesday
Nov292011

quinoa stuffed acorn squash

Did anyone else have a rough time getting through Monday?  I got a lot done, but man was I in slow motion.  We headed to Winter Park, CO on Sunday, for a few hours of skiing + snowboarding.  Chris has converted to skiing!  The nerve!  The first time on the mountain, each season, leaves the body quite sore and sometimes in random places.  Obviously my legs are a little tight, but my right forearm is sore, and the side of my left calf as well.  No idea why!  

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My point in brining up the snowboarding, was that it added to my slow-mo-Monday feel.  My other point in bringing it up, is to talk about my recent workouts.  We’ve decided to do away with our gym memberships.  This past winter/spring I really amped up my weight lifting, and the free weights at home just weren’t enough.  I was at the gym 4+ days a week, and supplementing with walks or bike rides in our neighborhood and swimming 1x per week. 

When I decided to amp up the weight lifting, I was craving a change a pace in my workouts.  I was on a cardio kick for too long, with bike rides, swims, and only light lifting.  I was new to cycling, and just loved getting out to ride for 1.5hrs or more at a time.  I was in shape, but not in the way I like.  I had endurance, but didn’t feel too strong.  And I was hungry.  Like constantly eating, constantly hungry, give.me.fooood. hungry!

Lessening the cardio and upping the lifting, really made a difference.  I wasn’t trying to lose weight, but wanted to tone + cut some body fat.  In about 4-5 months, my body fat dropped 4%, weighing the exact same, if not a pound or 2 more. 

My workouts continually change.  They’ve changed from only running, to running + yoga, to walking + lifting, to longer stints of biking + swimming, to shorter cardio + heavier lifting, etc.  The changes keep me interested and keep my body guessing what’s next.

For instance, late this summer I found Body Rock, and suddenly my visits to the gym became less frequent.  The heavy lifting routine was working pretty well, but I was actually starting to bulk up a too much.  My upper body [especially] gains muscle mass pretty quickly.  Definitely not a bad thing, but there is only so much bulk I want to add.  Finding Body Rock was a huge breakthrough.  I saw results within two weeks.  More ab definition, much more tone in my arms, and finely noticeable leg muscles!  While my arms show muscle change very quickly, my legs do not!  I don’t thrive or obsess on always seeing results, but I was looking for a workout to help define my muscles, rather than just bulk them up. 

With Body Rock, I was spending less time working out and feeling much stronger.  The workouts were hard + intense, but they gave me such a rush.  I still kept up with walking the dogs, cycling + swimming for cardio.

Long story longer, just when I was getting in the groove with the BR workouts, a nagging foot injury crept back into my life.  About 1.5yrs ago, I injured the top of my foot [close to my toes], and had to take a lot of time off from walking + running.  That is actually when I started cycling + swimming.  My foot doctor never diagnosed me with a stress fracture or tendonitis, but just said to give it plenty of rest. 

The Body Rock workouts consist of a lot of on-your-toes movements, which after a few months, started to wear on my right foot.  The top of foot pain came back and the Body Rock workouts halted.  Actually, walking halted.  I stopped walking the dogs and stopped going to the gym.  I stayed off my feet as much as possible, and iced multiple times each day.  I wore stiff soled shoes, to keep the muscles + bones from working too hard, when I was on my feet.  My workouts returned to a lot of cardio that didn’t cause pain to my foot.  After a few weeks, I was able to lift free weights at home, without foot pain.  After a full two months, I finally felt comfortable walking further than 1/4 mile.  I babied that foot and was quite frustrated about it.

So, because of all that, I fell out of the gym routine.  And because of that, I’m okay with closing the gym membership.  But now, I need something new.  Low impact, Body Rock type workouts.  A new search begins!

And now to connect gym memberships back to snowboarding, closing our gym memberships will help pay for most of the money spent on gas, to + from the mountains.

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Now I’m thinking maybe we should talk about food?

Specifically acorn squash.  The perfect edible bowl, that is just asking to be stuffed!

A trick you may not know about!  After slicing your acorn squash in half, lengthwise, slice a thin piece off the back so your squash can sit flat + not wobble.  Thank you 101 Cookbooks for teaching me this invaluable trick!

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No wobble!

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Chris is not a fan of squash.

I always act as though I’m surprised.  Like…”maybe he’ll like it with curry and pureed in a soup..” or… “if I roast it with a bunch of other veggies, it won’t even be noticeable.”  Not the case.  I mean, maybe he was into the curry soup, but he still had to crush mounds of Saltine crackers to choke it down.  When I do make something squashy for dinner, he tells me, “It’s not my fault I don’t like to eat decorative gourds.” 

The only squash he enjoys is spaghetti squash.  And the only recipe with pumpkin he’s ever enjoyed were my pumpkin donuts.  He’ll put up with a squash-involved dinner about 3 times per year, and I think we’ve already surpassed that quota. 

With this recipe, I didn’t even give it a try.  I bought him a take n’ bake pizza instead. 

Happy husband.  Happy squash-eating wife.

(5 of 6)

Lemony Quinoa Stuffed Squash [serves 4]

  • 3/4c quinoa, rinsed + drained
  • 1.5c water
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1.5c cooked chickpeas, rinsed + drained
  • 1/3c squash seeds, cleaned + patted dry
  • 1/4c lemon juice
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1T + 4t honey
  • 2T sunflower oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced ~2-3t
  • 2t fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1T fresh sage, chopped
  • 1/2t salt
  • pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400*
  2. Cut squash lengthwise, de-seed, and slice a very thing piece off the back of the squash, to help it sit flat on a plate. 
  3. Drizzle with about 1t oil into each half squash, and sprinkle with salt + pepper.  Rub into the cavity and the cut edges of the squash. 
  4. Turn cut side down, on a parchment lined pan and bake for 35-40min.  The edges should be golden brown when you flip it over, and the squash will be very tender and easily scooped out.
  5. While the squash is baking, in a pot, add the quinoa + water and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to simmer, cover + let cook for 15min, without stirring.  Turn off the heat and move to another burner [keeping covered] for 10min.  Fluff with a fork after 10min.
  7. After the quinoa has been cooking for awhile, in a large pan, add 1/2T oil over medium heat.
  8. Toast the squash seeds with a sprinkle of salt + pepper until golden brown, stirring frequently.  5-8min
  9. Mix 1T oil, 1T honey and the lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.
  10. Remove the seeds from the pan, add another 1/2T of oil, and add the chickpeas, stirring frequently for about 3min.
  11. Add the garlic, sage + thyme and cook for about 1min until fragrant.
  12. Add the fluffed quinoa, salt, pepper, lemon dressing, and 1t lemon zest to the pan mixture and gently stir to combine.
  13. When the squashes are done roasting, flip them over and add 1t honey into each squash bowl.  Rub into the bottom and sides.
  14. Scoop the quinoa mixture into the squash bowls, and top with toasted seeds and a tiny bit of lemon zest.  Add more s+p if desired.

tips/substitutions: Millet would work as a great sub for quinoa.  If using dry herbs, sub in 1t dried sage and 1t dried thyme.  If you don’t want to use the acorn squash seeds, toast sunflower or pepitas/pumpkin seeds instead.  If you have butternut, delicata, or another type of squash, peel, cube + roast the squash with oil/salt/pepper until tender, then toss together with the quinoa mixture.

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After a few days of non-stop eating, this was just the recipe I was looking for.  Light in flavor, but a filling + comforting meal.  And the leftovers are all miiiine!

Ashley

Photography blog has been updated!  As if you needed to read more from me today…

Reader Comments (80)

Man, I miss quinoa so much! I haven't seen it anywhere in Rome!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Closing the gym membership? Good call. Nothing can compete with the freedom I get OUT of the gym, i.e..running, walking, hiking, yoga, stretching at home..whatever it is, I have realized I am not a gym person. And you have...a mountain! That's your gym and that's awesome!

Yum! I had acorn squash at thanksgiving, sliced up, and my family loved it -- maybe for Christmas I'll make this version. Stuffed squash has such a fantastic presentation.

And yes, Monday was super hard to get through -- knowing that, I made a date with myself to do some yoga...it gave me something to look forward to and then felt SO good afterwards!

I hope you find a new fitness routine that works best for you! And yes, that mountain is your gym! That's fantastic!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlauren@spicedplate

You've just reminded me that it's been ages since I've stuffed a vegetable. :) This look awesome.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

ha! Your husband sounds like mine - and I always try him to get things he doesn't like even though he's made it perfectly clear he does not enjoy it. I've finally given up on some things!

I had a similar pain in the top of my foot around 2 months ago, no amount of icing or rest was working and I really thought I had a stress fracture but it was luckily only diagnosed as tendonitis - even after 10 days of steroids it felt weird because I had been babying it for so long but now it's back to normal for the most part but am always worried about hurting it again. I can't even imagine putting up with something like that for more than the 3 weeks I did! Hopefully it goes away and stays away!

And the acorn squash look delicious - definitely one of my favorite squashes, but then again I've never had a winter squash that I haven't loved!

I've done a version of quinoa stuffed acorn squash, but I went sweet with cinnamon and I was not crazy about it. I bet the lemon was really good. I need to try that. I was the only one that ate it too! It looks delicious.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

i hate those nagging injuries...mine's in my knee. the doctor can't find anything but there's still pain, which keeps me from running (which, if i'm honest, is the only cardio i really want to do but stick to walking just in case).

and YAY CHRIS! for skiing :) you should try it...it's fun!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather (Heather's Dish)

Yum..these look amazing..I have most of the ingredients on hand..making it tonight!
Sorry to hear about your foot injury...that is the worst! I hope you can find a workout routine you enjoy!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Have you thought of trying Rip:60 (www.rip60.com)? This suspension training system is amazing and a wonderful challenge. I swear by it ... hope this will help you in your next strength training chapter. :)

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Ashley, this is perfect timing! I just took down the fall decor and one of the decor items was an acorn squash. Decor items are totally dinner worthy.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKellie @ Blackboard Kitchen

I have been using an exercise video from Cathe. It is low impact cardio.
http://shop.cathe.com/low_impact_exercise_dvds_s/90.htm

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

I love stuffed squash but I feel like a lot of guys dont.. I agree definitely more leftovers for you is always a good thing :) good luck with your workout search cant wait to see what you find!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Yum...sounds awesome!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLizAshlee

I just made some quinoa stuffed acorn squash the other night too, great minds... :)
This recipe is totally different tho, I'll have to try this next time! And I hear you on the workout change up. I feel like I'm in a gym-rut.

Haha - I just JOINED a gym. But only for a month for that exact reason (well not exact same, but you know, i wasn't using it).

Anyway, point being - this dish looks awesome. I'm obsessed with stuffed anything (pumpkins, pasta, acorn squash) so I could definitely get on board with this.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCait's Plate

How cool! I need to get some squash like this :)

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLauren @ What Lauren Likes

Oh yum, I've eaten loads of butternut squash lately but this makes me very hungry for the acorn variety! Next week's meal plans!

And I recently starting doing Insanity at home and have really loved it and feel like it was the needed change for me from constant running. It is a bit higher impact though so I am not sure if it would be very good for your foot...but it is so much fun!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKinley @ Better Off Barefoot

Chris sounds like my husband. He is not a squash person, but I am. Your stuffed squash looks great! I made a pepper, onion and cabbage stuffed acorn squash last night. I always forget how much I love acorn squash until I have it again!

Cathe Friedrich has a new Low Impact series I have been doing at home for the past month. Great core and leg workouts, and no jumping or impact at all. This may work well with your foot issues. BTW the squassh looks great! I have one sitting at home that I may have to try this recipe on:).

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Don't mind if I show up at your door begging for stuffed acorn squash. #collegelyfe

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatelyn @ Chef Katelyn

Sad to hear about the foot! Maybe look into Crossfit. Or Tuesday Trainer (sorry, had to plug.)

And I'm with Chris. Skiing trumps boarding any day. It's vintage.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay @ Lindsay's List

I've ditched the gym too and hope you don't mind if I ask you a few more questions about your results using BodyRock. Were you following the schedule or just picking a workout to do every day? Just one of her routines or more than one? Did you feel that you needed to buy the dip station and sandbag that they use?

I've been trying to follow some of their workouts, too but modify the moves so that I don't have to guy that equipment.

Also, I feel that you would like the Insanity DVDs but they're high impact (I struggle with a sore knee and can't always do them).

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnanda

I'm so jealous that the mountains are open out by you! Vermont doesn't have snow yet!

Just found out about BodyRock the other day! It look intense but also very effective. When you were following along with it did you buy the equipment they show in the videos, like the sand bag and what not?

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Haha. I have the same squash stand off with my husband! I may have to make this for myself this weekend while he eats pretzel sausages!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

That looks really good! - hearty yet fresh. My husband doesn't like squash (or sweet potatoes - the horror!) either, I think he just finds them too sweet. Occasionally I can get away with it in a really spicy dish but otherwise I resort to baking large amounts of them to add to my lunches or eat for desert!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkirsty

Thanks for openly sharing your experiences with working out - I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets HUNGRY from all the cardio - I LOVE running but feel like I'm starving all.the.time! I can out-eat all the people I know and it gets so distracting to be constantly thinking about food, I'd like to lose 5-7 pounds but its hard running (and still nursing a little one) and always being HUNGRY, I get kinda embarrassed about it not wanting others to know how much I eat! I'll make a plan to add in more lifting or something like Body Rock and maybe a little less cardio. Anyway, I appreciate how you are - you don't attach judgment to your experiences - keep on being you Ashley!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaaike

Did you buy all the equipment that is suggested for the BodyRock videos or did you just do the videos that didn't require equipment? I'm trying to work around not having the same equipment that's suggested and curious as to what others are doing.

Thanks.
ka

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Sorry about the foot, but skiing is an awesome workout. The boyfriend an I are going to Italy for over a week in Jan to ski. I'm hoping the exercise will counteract the food and alcohol! The squash looks awesome, might be on the menu next time I make dinner for the parents :)

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaitlyn@TheTieDyeFIles

YAY for snowboarding! I've never tried skiing - I'm always afraid that I'll end up doing the splits or something! Just wish there were more friends around me who liked to snowboard!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I love, love, love your blog! I found you through Oh She Glows, and I couldn't be happier with your recipes. I'll be trying the quinoa stuffed acorn squash tonight. I grew up in Colorado. I learned to ski at Winter Park in their Ski-Wee program. Thanks for dusting off an old memory, California snow just doens't compare. Happy cooking!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryna Chadwick

I am SUCH a huge fan of quinoa and chickpeas! But I have to admit that I've actually never tried acorn squash. I recently saw another stuffed recipe with beef, but I love yours SO much more. Thanks for the recipe.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIrina G (Fit Flexitarian)

your recipes have been outstanding lately! Ryan actually loves squash, acorn being his favorite, so I think I need to give this a try. We typically just roast our squash halves and enjoy with a bit of butter/brown sugar...but stuffed looks so fun! YUM!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternatalie (the sweets life)

My man is the same way with all squash. Still, I try to trick him into liking it... Never works though :/.

I on the other hand love them gourdes! This looks great. I will have to try out that anti wobble trick.

This looks so so good! Fortunately my husband is a squash lover like me, so this recipe will definitely be making its way into our recipe rotation sometime very soon.

That anti-wobble tip is awesome, too!

I love the roasted squash seeds on top. Can I just buy those?

Your photos look really amazing, per usual!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMama Pea

Yum!

I am mega jealous of your camera and photo skills, since I've gotten back into blogging I'm so frustrated with our point and shoot. But I'm trying to make the best of it, using a daylight bulb and white boards to bounce the light.

Your photos are always lovely! :)

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley @ Cooking for John

The acorn squash has been my favorite type this fall. Your recipe looks delish! On a workout note, I have been doing the Physique 57 DVDs for over 2 years now and love them. There is plenty of cardio with them (especially the volume 2 set), yet no impact and amazing results. They have a 30 day free trial for the DVDs also, so no loss if you don't love them.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I'm not sure how this was my first of the year! I actually forgot how much I enjoy them. Thanks for the tip on Physique 57. I'll definitely check it out!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thanks so much Ashley! I totally understand the point n' shoot frustration!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

If I ever see "squash seeds" for sale, I'll send you some. ;)

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

You're so lucky!! Hope you guys enjoy this one!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Aw, thanks girl!! Much appreciated. :) The brown sugar butter combo is always a winner!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

If you like other squashes, you'll definitely like the acorn!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thank you Bryna! I'm so glad you're enjoying my recipes and I hope the acorn squash turned out well for you!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I've never skied either!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

OHmygosh did you just make me jealous!! But in a very excited for you kind of way!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

No, I actually bought no equipment and only did about 5 of the workouts. I'll go over a little more of what I did soon!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thanks for chiming in about the workouts, Maaike, and I really appreciate your sweet comment at the end. I always hold on to a few extra pounds when I focus on cardio. You will be amazed at what working in weights does for your body!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

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