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One of the coolest concepts I learned about in my health coach training was food energetics. Steve Gagne, an expert on the topic and author of the book Food Energetics: The Spiritual, Emotional, and Nutrition Power of What We Eat, taught us about the energetic properties of certain foods.

Now before you go thinking I’m all hippy dippy and loopy, hear me out!

You may have already noticed this without even thinking about it based on how your food preferences change seasonally.

In the warmer months, we often crave lighter foods – salads, smoothies, raw fruits and vegetables, and chilled soups like gazpacho. These foods are naturally cooling, support our body’s detoxification processes and keep us feeling light during the hot and humid months.

As the fall approaches, we naturally turn to more warming comfort foods – things like hot soups, stews, chilis and squashes. We crave warming spices like cinnamon and ginger. We look forward to holding a piping hot mug of cocoa or tea.

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In other words, during the warmer months we crave lighter, cooling foods. During the colder months, we naturally go for grounding, warming foods and drinks.

Squash is one of those grounding fall foods and happens to be one of my favorites. There are so many varieties of squash that you could have a different one every day for weeks and not get bored!

Today’s recipe pulls in one of my absolute favorite squash and the one most of us are familiar with and have tried before – butternut squash.

In case you want a little how-to about how to cut up this vegetable, check out the guide below. I find that it helps to peel it with a good quality vegetable peeler BEFORE cutting it up, but it works either way. Once you’ve cut it up, then dice it into cubes for this dish. 

Butternut squash how to

I made this recipe for my Going Gluten-Free without Going Crazy workshop in October and it was one of the most liked dishes I served all night!

We combine the roasted butternut squash with my #1 herb of all time – rosemary – and toss it with some dried tart cherries, toasted pecans, and a simple apple cider vinegar Dijon dressing. To add some lightness and a bit of peppery spice, we mix in a bunch of arugula, one of the tastiest salad greens out there.

We’ve since made it multiple times, so it’s quickly become one of our fall staples. It would make the perfect side for Thanksgiving dinner or for any fall or winter meal.

When we were on a trip to Upstate New York last month, we even served it with a (slightly overcooked!) fried egg on top. This one is a keeper 🙂

egg with quinoa salad

Squash Salad Banner

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Fine sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa (for improved digestibility, soak quinoa in water for 2 hours or overnight. If you soak the quinoa, use only 1 1⁄2 cups water to cook it)
  • 1⁄2 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups packed baby arugula leaves
  • 2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine squash, rosemary, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 12-15 minutes, until squash is tender. Let cool completely.
3. While squash is cooking, cook quinoa. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear. Fill medium saucepan with 1 2/3 cup water and add quinoa. Bring to a boil then cover with a lid and reduce heat to simmer for 10-12 minutes. Once water is just barely absorbed, remove from heat and leave covered for 5-7 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Spread it on a parchment lined baking sheet to cool and prevent it from clumping together. This last step is optional but really helps!
4. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Add sea salt to taste.
5. In a large bowl, combine roasted squash, quinoa and cherries. Pour dressing over mixture and gently toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add arugula and pecans, gently tossing to coat.