As November rolls around, hearty meals for cold nights are a favorite.

acorn squashThis week John Fairchild, a nutritionist at the Becoming Center, Liberty’s senior wellness and fitness facility, shares a recipe for acorn squash. While it looks and tastes like a comfort food should, roasted squash with wild rice stuffing will help keep the pounds off as the holidays approach.

First, a little about acorn squash.

Acorn squash is a winter variety of squashes containing high amounts of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A (beta-carotene), niacin, folate, thiamine, vitamin B-6, and an exceptional source of vitamin C.

One cup (245 grams) of acorn squash, boiled (or roasted) and mashed, provides 82 calories, 26% of your daily value of vitamin C, 24% of your daily value of dietary fiber, 18% of your daily value of potassium, 16% of your daily value of magnesium, and 12% of your daily value of vitamin A.

When picking one, choose squashes that feel heavy and are free from blemishes and mold. They should be firm and have no soft spots. If kept cool and dry, a good squash will last a month or more. Cut or cooked acorn squash should be refrigerated.

The average acorn squash weighs from one to three pounds. Smaller varieties tend to be more flavorful and hydrated. A good bright yellow-orange coloring is optimum for sweetness.

Roasted Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing
roasted acorn squash
Directions:

Rinse winter squash under cold running water before cutting.
Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and pulp.
Place on a ridged baking pan (cut side up), add 1/4 inch of water to pan and roast at 400 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until soft (depending on size).
Better to overcook than to under-cook. Remove and cool.
You may spread a small amount of maple syrup on the exposed cut area prior to baking.

Rice Stuffing
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups wild rice
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken, turkey or vegetable broth
4 cups cubed whole wheat bread (toasted, if preferred)
1 pound sweet apple turkey sausage, skin removed and diced
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
2 cups leeks, chopped (can use 1/2 cup white onions)
2 apples (Honey Crisp, Gala, Pink Lady), diced
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 tablespoon marjoram
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pecans, chopped

roasted with riceDirections:
Place rice in a medium saucepan and cover with water (2 inches above rice). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, keep covered and cook until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain well if excess liquid.
Cook sausage and leeks in a large pan over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon or potato masher until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add apples and celery; cook for approximately 3 minutes or until soft.
Transfer the sausage mixture to a large bowl.
Add the rice and bread, broth, cherries, pecans, and spices.
Transfer to the squash halves.
Bake for 30 minutes.

While the roasted squash with wild rice can serve as a main dish, roasted squash alone can be mashed and served as an alternate to potatoes or rice.

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