Sugar Free Vegan

ABOUT ME:  I have been many things in this life. Among the highlights are: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Sister, Friend, Lover, Soul Mate, Graphic Designer, Artist, Animal Lover, Movie Buff, Bibliophile, Traveler, Homebody, Collector, and Food Aficionado. In my journey to become me, I have experienced a great deal of life lessons. I HAVE: lived, laughed, loved, lost, learned, lied, told the truth, danced and sang out loud (when no one was looking), traveled, been recluse, acted outgoing, been shy, become a wife, known hatred and resentment, been scared,  been divorced, been careless and selfish, found myself, existed, shown selflessness and compassion, been content, found my soul mate, learned true love, lived my life, mourned, found and kept true friends (let the others go bye bye), felt beautiful, felt truly and self-consciously fat, doubted and believed in myself, learned to be content again, felt proud of myself, been ambitious and lazy, and become a mother of the daughter I've dreamed of since I was young. I'm always on the look out for new life lessons, in hopes that I can take them on gracefully.

Throughout my life, food has been a constant companion — whether delicious and memorable, or bland and forgetful. The Sugar Free Vegan developed from a passion for good cuisine, a desire to be healthy and the necessity to cut out sugar. While I was at it, I thought, "why not cut out all animal products and gluten?" Follow my journey to great-tasting Sugar Free Gluten Free Vegan food. Cheers!

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Jul 16 2012

Butternut Squash with Lemon Quinoa Recipe

My first experience with Quinoa was for a dessert "rice" pudding. It was early in my no-more-sugar-days, and I had read it was very much like rice. One brisk winter evening I was craving something sweet and homey, so rice pudding fit the bill.  I did a quick search online and found a quinoa pudding recipe with raisins - perfect.  Well, and hour and a half later I was sourly disappointed that my not-so-homey rice pudding had the distinct flavor of bitter broccoli.  Yuck.  Needless to say, my craving went unsatisfied and a bunch of ingredients made their way down the drain.

Well, I've come a long way since that unfortunate evening. First thing first — RINSE YOUR QUINOA! Yes, rinse all that bitterness away. Second, cook to your hearts desire. Being a bit gun shy, I've mainly stuck to savory recipes — mainly due to my husbands crisp memory of that sweet broccoli-flavored concoction, but I will try a sweet one again one of these days and maybe just not tell him what's in it.

For a lovely dinner entree, this Butternut Squash with Lemon Quinoa is a terrific fall dish, but we eat it year-round.  I love to serve with a side of this Walnut, Onions and Broccolini recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
  • lemon zest, of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup tightly packed baby kale (or use torn kale, stems removed)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and clean out the seeds and strings by scraping a large spoon along the edges.  Peel, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Step 2: Place the butternut squash pieces on a large non-stick baking sheet, then sprinkle with 1 tbsp lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Use your hands to mix the pieces so they are well coated. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once. 

Step 3: While the butternut squash is roasting, drain your quinoa.  In a deep non-stick stock pot, heat olive oil then place in onions and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Step 4: Stir quinoa into the pan and dry-fry it until it starts to dry out, about 5-10 minutes. You will smell it toasting.

Step 5: Stir in the vegetable broth, roasted butternut squash and thyme leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce to low and cover. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until broth is absorbed, stirring 2-3 times. Meanwhile, toast your pine nuts.

Step 6: Once the quinoa is tender and has absorbed all the broth, add in remaining lemon juice, lemon zest and kale. Stir until kale starts to wilt and is warm. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Step 7: Serve warm, topped with toasted pine nuts and chopped scallions.

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