Quinoa, Apple, and Onion Stuffed Squash (gluten free)

photo: A Couple Cooks

photo: A Couple Cooks

I love this stuffed acorn squash as a main course for a weeknight meal. In less than 30 minutes, including any chopping time, you have a delicious, filling, and healthy dinner. Top it with nuts or crumbled Gorgonzola for a non-vegan dish. I like to serve this with a side of greens sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

This recipe is both gluten-free and vegan, however it makes a great side dish to serve along with chicken or pork.


  • 1 small acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts or pistachios or crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Brush squash with 1/2 tablespoon oil. Roast cut side down on a baking sheet until tender and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Shut heat off, leave cover on and let steam for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  3. While quinoa cooks saute garlic in 1 TBS olive oil over medium-low heat. Then add in diced onion and apple, saute until softened. Keep warm.
  4. When quinoa is cooked add onion and apple mixture. Stir in parsley, maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Divide mixture equally between two squash halves. Top with pistachios or walnuts if desired.

Quit the Whining – It Could be Worse

curveballI had a curve ball thrown at me last week. I went to see my doctor and my liver function is still not completely normal. I’m on an elimination diet that is basically like a cleanse. I cannot have: wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, alcohol, eggs or fruit. I’m okay with no wheat, I can live without dairy. But dang I miss my eggs and fruit.

It really was not what I wanted to hear on a Friday night. The weekend was coming up and this curtails a lot of plans. My diet is fairly clean but I do have a weakness for sugar. It’s no secret that I like dessert and that I am generally careful about the portions of it that I consume.

On the flip side in looking at labels of some of the foods I enjoy I realize that while they were low in sugar maybe there were a few too many of them in my eating plan. The sugar does add up throughout the day and since sugar is metabolized in the liver it could be more of a strain than I need.

Still, it was pretty annoying on Fathers’ Day to watch everyone eat the ice cream cake that I love. I did make my own dessert, which was good and I enjoyed it. It tasted like a warm chocolate muffin and it was sugar, corn, egg and wheat free. A friend tasted it and liked it too. It was not ice cream cake but I didn’t feel deprived or left out.

I was annoyed with the list but I am happy that I have the knowledge and tools to be able to eat delicious meals that nourish me and still keep in these guidelines. I have had several people ask me what the heck I eat now. They’re surprised when I have a long list of foods that I eat.

So what do you do when life throws you a curve ball? Do you rail against it, ignore it or decide to make it work for you? Do you focus on what you can’t have or what you can have? I’d love to hear your response, so please leave me a comment.

Are you in a situation where you don’t know what to eat? Do you think your eating plan could use some fine tuning? Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, and together we can come with a plan that works just for you.