Stuffed Acorn Squash

Kale gets all the love when it comes to the cute t-shirts and catchphrases. But if you ask me, squash is the MVP. Talk about versatility!

Last week From the Farmer asked me to contribute a recipe for their weekly newsletter, which is so fun. It’s reminiscent of an Iron Chef competition in that 2 or 3 of the ingredients must be on their delivery list for the week.

As I waited for the distribution list I may have crossed my fingers, closed my eyes and whispered, “Please be squash, please be squash, please be squash…”

Acorn – score!

Here’s what happened next.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 bunch chard, stems and leaves separated
  • 1 T. avocado or coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lb (approximately 8) breakfast sausages, casings removed*
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 c. slivered almonds
  • salt and pepper

*Substitute with cooked lentils for vegetarian/vegan option.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line roasting pan with parchment. Place squash cut side down and roast for 35-40 minutes, until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Finely chop chard stems and add to garlic. Continue to stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add sausage to pan mixture and continue cooking over medium heat. As it begins to brown, use spoon to break sausage into bitesized pieces.
  4. Once sausage is browned, add chopped apple. Stir to combine, cover with lid and reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally until apples soften, about 4 minutes.
  5. While apples are cooking, finely chop half of chard leaves (reserve remaining half for other use). Add to pan mixture along with slivered almonds. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
  6. When squash is done roasting, relocate the squash to a casserole dish, cut side up. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Spoon sausage mixture into center of acorn squash and bake for another 10 minutes to allow apples to soften and flavors to combine.

There are certainly a variety of ways you can customize this recipe. If you put your own spin on it be sure to let us know in the comments so we can share in the inspiration. Variety is the spice of life!

I’m also taking submissions for the squash cousin of the Eat More Kale t-shirt. Something clearly original. We don’t want a Cease and Desist letter from any fast food giants.

deLIGHTful homemade marshmallows with marshmallow root

 

Some foods simply have seasonal appeal. Take the pumpkin spiced latte for instance.  Come September #psl is as ubiquitous as yellow school buses and leather boots.  If you deconstruct these cravings you may find a range of reasons that are as simple as it’s in season and as complex as every year on Christmas Eve we would go to my grandma’s…. (insert long story).

Whether the reason is ancestral, physiological or pure sentiment you can try denying this little craving monster.  But who’s to say that won’t backfire, giving him the ammunition to turn up louder and more aggressive the next time? Why not reinvent your kitchen’s greatest hits album instead? Sure it takes a little time and ingenuity, but luckily the blogosphere has streamlined much of the trial and error process.

As it relates to seasonal changes and cravings I do want to talk about Ayurvedic practices at some point.  It’s truly fascinating, but arguably in a different echelon from what I want to discuss today. Today I want to keep it light… and fluffy… and SPONGEY! 

Any guesses on what seasonal treat I’m talking about?  The popularity of this food(-like substance) can probably be blamed on the Girl Scouts (as if the cookies weren’t enough…). It’s a versatile treat, and was originally derived from a root with properties known to combat sore throats.  

The marshmallow.

Marshmallows are one of those foods that I’ve always felt ambivalent about.  On one hand I love a toasty campfire s’more.  On the other hand as a standalone treat I find the modern marshmallow gagworthy (completely unrelated to participation in a Chubby Bunny challenge).  But then again, what’s hot cocoa without marshmallows?  I was torn.  Let’s be honest, industrialized grocery store marshmallows are kinda gross. And who can justify buying the $7 organic bag?  Yet I always seem to find myself giving in…

My family has had slew of European house guests the last couple years and it’s somehow become tradition to introduce them to ooey gooey s’mores – high fructose corn syrup and all. We even had s’mores at my sister’s wedding reception in Slovenia!  Occasionally I would halfheartedly buy the organic bag, feeling like the end product would be slightly less “authentic.” Not sure it gets much more dualistic than that.  After all, I’d already substituted out for gluten free grahams and no soy chocolate, so why not swap out the marshmallow too?  Eventually I drew a hard line and said no HFCS in the house.  Period.  End of story.  

Then December rolled around.

Last year I traded in the traditional advent calendars for a homemade activity calendar.  One night we read the Christmas Story, another day we make a gingerbread house, the next evening we drive around and look at lights…  Well, when I unwrapped this DIY masterpiece last week I got pretty pumped.  With one caveat.  

Aaaack!  There was that darn marshmallow sauntering in once again!

But this time I got crafty.  After all, I was just coming off the Thanksgiving high of having a breakfast-approved alternative to traditional pumpkin pie, so why not give the marshmallow a shot. I did. And I’ve been bragging about it every day since! 

Please note I am NOT a food blogger (I’m a health coach), but this recipe was too good to keep to myself. And aside from running around looking for marshmallow root and a tea infuser, I swear the hardest part will be waiting the 4 hours for the marshmallows to set!  Of course you can always reserve a little marshmallow fluff in the meantime. There’s still honey in them, so I don’t know that I’d call them 100% guilt-free, but they are paleo and GAPS-approved (read:  gut-friendly).  Of course if you compensate by sprinkling a couple probiotic capsules into the batch that might be one step closer to putting marshmallows back in the “medicinal” category.

I scoured the Web for a few suitable suggestions and ultimately combined a few recipes into one super-duper recipe.  Thanks to Urban Poser, Super Glue Mom and Wellness Mama for the guidelines!

deLIGHTful homemade marshmallows with marshmallow root

  • Time: approx. 5 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 T. marshmallow root
  • 1/2 c. warm filtered tap water
  • 2 T. Great Lakes beef gelatin
  • 1/2 c. local honey
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • Arrowroot or Tapioca flour
  • coconut oil

Kitchen equipment:

  • large stand up mixer (recommended) or hand mixer, with metal bowl
  • small saucepan
  • cooking or candy thermometer
  • tea infuser
  • square or rectangular pan (8×8 for chunky or 9×13 for bite size)
  • parchment paper
  • kitchen shears or pizza cutter

Instructions:

  1. Diffuse the marshmallow root in warm tap water.
  2. Meanwhile, coat your pan with coconut oil and then line with parchment, keeping some extra length for lifting out the marshmallows later. The oil keeps the paper from slipping while you spread the tacky mixture. Dust the paper with (gluten-free) flour to reduce the overall sticky factor.
  3. After 5 minutes (or longer) of steeping pour 1/4 cup of the “marshmallow tea” into the metal bowl. Add gelatin and whisk until well-combined (i.e. not lumpy) and let sit.
  4. Pour remaining 1/4 cup of marshmallow tea into saucepan and add honey and vanilla. Slowly bring to a boil.
  5. Check your stovetop mixture’s temperature with a thermometer and allow it to get to 240 degrees (or slightly beyond 220 if you’re like me and had to use a meat thermometer). This should take approximately 8 minutes.
  6. Turn your gelatin mixer back on at low speed and slowly add the hot honey mixture to the gelatin mixture. It will be golden in color, but have faith. It will get white and fluffy.
  7. After everything is combined crank up your mixer to high speed and let it go for 10-12 minutes. You want the marshmallow to be stiff enough to withstand the upside-down test. If you are using a hand mixture, feel free to do some calf raises and pelvic tilts while you wait for the marshmallows to firm up!
  8. Pour the marshmallow into the pan, and pat down with a spatula or hands coated in coconut oil.
  9. Wait FOUR very long hours. Longer if you can stand it, until you press down and the marshmallow bounces back.
  10. Lift onto a cutting board and cut with a pizza cutter. You may find that you need to oil the pizza cutter. A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job too.
  11. Store in an airtight container.

So how do you envision reinventing your old favorites? Leave a comment below and let’s inspire one another!

Now to overhaul Aunt Rene’s signature jello salad (with marshmallows, of course)…

Poop. It’s important.

I have a 3-year old.  As instinctual as it may be to bestow wisdom upon a preschooler, I find that it’s almost as critical to stop, listen and learn from them too.  

If there’s one thing you can learn from a preschooler, it’s this:  Pooping is important. Second to that is perhaps that there’s nothing wrong with being proud of a good dump. And while we’re at it, be unapologetic when it comes to poop. If you’re eating breakfast right now then I suppose I can mumble a slight sorry.

Few things are more important than poop.  And if you haven’t had a brag-worthy BM lately, keep reading.  

When I started conducting Health Histories for my coursework at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I was shocked by the number of people who listed “normal” under the question of Constipation/Diarrhea/Gas.  

Really?  Do tell!

It was happening time and time again, so I started wondering, as a population how do we define normal?  What kind of limitations and damage control have to be put in place to create this normality? Or are people just too embarrassed to share the truth?  Does the idea of getting into a long-winded discussion about bowel movements make them squeamish to the point they would fudge the answer?  And if you are normal, what is your secret??  Don’t tell me good genes!

I realize you may be a little shy to volunteer, so allow me to offer up some talking points.  

Talking Point #1:
I’ve had many delightful conversations with the brilliant Dr. Venus Seleme, but in one particular instance she told me that President Obama needed a colon cleanse.  “Those lines,” she said as her fingers traced her laugh lines (aka nasal labial folds… yes, that’s what they’re called).  Makes you wonder what else acupuncturists are thinking while they watch tv and stand in line at the grocery store.  Constipation showcasing itself on your face??  It takes a lot to turn my stomach, but Eww.  We’ve got sun damage and blemishes to obsess over… we don’t need to worry about whether last night’s dinner is creating dramatization!

Talking Point #2:
The poop graphic.  If you’ve never entertained a paleo life style you may have missed Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.  It weighs nearly as much as a dictionary but I’ll argue that it’s worth its weight in gold.  It’s so much more than a cookbook (FODMAPS post coming soon)!  What sold me? The poop graphic.  In chatting with a friend who recommended the book I said with a dramatic eye bulge, “Oh… my… gosh… ” And she said, “The poop?  I know!”  That’s how noteworthy it is!  Be sure to click on the link – it’s hysterical (and insightful)!

Talking Point #3:
A lot of us have used the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet to recover from a bout of diarrhea.  But how many people keep the BRAT acronym in mind daily? If binding foods make up a regular part of your diet I won’t scold you.  But I will ask, what are you doing to maintain flow?   I really hope your answer is some derivative of “lots of high fiber fruits and vegetables.”  Otherwise you might be overlooking the principle nugget of preschooler wisdom – Pooping is important!  I’m not kidding when I say I genuinely want to know what everyone does to maintain balance.  Please leave me a comment below!

So which produce packs the most punch?  We’ve been joking about prunes for ages.  No doubt they work.  On the other hand I’m not personally a big fan of prunes (plus they make me feel geriatric, but that’s my own issue).  I don’t generally recommend dried fruit on account of the sugar concentration and prevalence of mold.  That being said, desperate times call for desperate measures.  For instance, if you accidentally scarfed down two bags of corn chips, in that case I would recommend apricots or dates (perhaps dates wrapped in bacon…).  For general maintenance I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes. It’s so easy to throw a half dozen in the oven on Sunday and eat them throughout the week!

That’s just skimming the top off my bag of tricks.  If you’re like me and spent the better part of your adult life trying to regulate your digestion after a decade of eating Hostess treats, Entenmann’s, Slimfast shakes, fake cheese and enough sugar and gluten to brick-and-mortar 4-bedroom house, then you need some serious TLC.  We will get there girlfriends – in small, digestible little bites.  After all, poop is important!

Here’s to hoping the next generation will be smarter and more equipped than their parents. Time for prayers and bedtime stories!

From “Look Inside Your Body” by Usborne

XOXO Rachel

Fog Lifted

As I slowly come out of an allergy-induced haze, I am mentally checking the boxes on my holistic cheat sheet of treatment options.  Which begs the question, why did I never slow down long enough to make an actual list? Maybe it was the sinus pressure that kept me from sitting up long enough to jot one down.  Maybe it was the foreboding transparency of just how unconventional I’ve become.  

Oh well.  Never too late.  Carpe diem.

I figure this will be nice to have documented when my descendants skeptically tell their kids that Great Great Grandma Bunny used to do all this crazy stuff to feel good.  I love the idea of Google dispelling future hearsay on my behalf.  Although I really hope that in 100 years most of this treatment protocol isn’t crazy at all.  Is it too optimistic to think Reiki may one day earn the same modern shrug-off as, “I took some NyQuil last night?”  In either case, file this away in the time capsule.

  • Saline.  Hopefully one day I’ll live at the beach and this won’t be the first line of defense, but I keep Simply Saline on hand.  It’s got more zing than a squeeze bottle so you barely have time to flinch.  
  • Essential Oils.  Lavender, lemon and peppermint make a nice allergy blend.  I’ve been using a drop of each on the bottom of my feet.  It was lovely.  Until I couldn’t resist the urge to deeply inhale the lovely aromatic scent of the peppermint.  Helloooooo mucus membranes!  Don’t try that one at home, kids!
  • Chiropractic.  A really good adjustment can feel like a big “Whoosh!” radiating from the top down.  For everything from the pesky sinus headache to the all-encompassing football helmet of intense discomfort I use chiropractic.  
    • Apple Cider Vinegar.  If there was a health coach version of the father in My Big Fat Greek wedding, that would be me.  Except instead of Windex I’m touting Bragg’s ACV. There are seemingly endless uses for this product.  You can read about several of them here. When it comes to allergies ACV helps drain the lymphatic system.  Out, damn mucus!
    • Massage.  Sometimes that lymphatic system needs a little extra coaxing.  Plus when you’re down and out you can’t have too much self-care, am I right?
    • Green (or Pink?) Juice.  Ginger has tremendous anti-inflammatory qualities.  I like to alternate through the recipes in Jason’s Vale’s Funky Fresh Juice Book.  I recently stumbled upon this little pink gem:  Two apples, 1/4 medium pineapple, 2 stalks celery, 3cm ginger root, small handful raspberries, and small handful ice cubes. 
    • NAET.  Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques.  What is that?  Applied kinesiology with a side of acupuncture.  Does it work?  Ask the hundreds of breastfeeding moms who were relieved of their elimination diets and you’ll get a resounding ‘yes.’
    • Reiki.  Can’t have too much healing going on.  I will attest that given the chance your body has an incredible ability to reach homeostasis and heal itself.  
    • Water, Water Everywhere.  I drink it, I soak in it, I sit in a room of the vaporized form… Normal rule of thumb in my book looks like this, but during periods of congestion I up the ante.

    • Manuka Honey.  If I wasn’t allergic to it!  Workin’ on that (see NAET above). 
    Hey, look at that!  Our first Top Ten List!  

    So why go to all this effort?  Wouldn’t popping a Zyrtec just be easier?  Yeah, probably.  In the short term.  But that’s not why I’m here.  Sometimes it’s more about paving a brighter future than the quick and dirty.  My mission is to turn your focus inward and encourage you to ask whether there’s a better way. Would you believe me if I said that seemingly benign ragweed allergy my be an invitation into uncovering an even bigger inflammatory marker in your body?  I really like this whole article, but if nothing else, read the last section “More Than One Way to Heal” for some crunchy-good food for thought.

    As for my ultimate goal?  Being 100% allergy-free would be nice.  Is it possible?  I’m not sure yet, but I’ll die trying.  These days I live virtually free of environmental allergens (foods are another story…).  But that’s a relatively new phenomenon for me.  What changed, you ask?  I discovered my “bigger inflammatory marker” and tossed it to the curb.  But we’ll save that saga for another day.  

    In the meantime I’m taking suggestions for new favorite flower now that lilies are on the Most Wanted List.  Please list your least ACHOO-inducing blooms below so Hubby has a thriving go-to list next time around.  

    xoxo Rachel

    Stick to the Plan

    You may have noticed that I’m here as a Health Coach.  What’s that?  Sort of like a Life Coach, but more nutrition based.  I’m big on the notion of cultivating wellness. Given the choice I’d much rather sow health than treat illness.

    So what’s up with the sugar-laden 4-layer cake in my inaugural post?

    It’s called balance, folks. B A L A N C E.

    My birthday didn’t just sneak up out of nowhere.  I knew it was coming.  So I passed up a few treats in anticipation of the big event and I had this baby waiting in the queue Tuesday morning to help cleanse all the sugar (in case you thought alcohol was the only thing that put your liver in distress…).



    When you start putting a little bit of planning effort into what you eat it can pay dividends.  D I V I D E N D S.  Sure, there comes a time when a little reckless abandon and serendipity are just what the doctor ordered, but for your day-to-day eating try to have a plan and stick to it.

    I grew up with an Eagle Scout so the Boy Scout motto of Always Prepared is somewhat second nature to me.  But do I remember when this notion started?  Not all all.  Which leads me to believe, like any “habbett” it takes about three months to develop.  If you’ve never spent a day in your life planning meals it’s not too late.  Three months is just a blip on the radar for those of us planning to be centenarians!

    Still with me?  Great!  Here’s your takeaway nugget of advice. 

    I’m going out on a limb and guessing that each of you will be eating out at least once this week.  Do you know where you’re going?  Sure, flying by the seat of your pants and being spontaneous is fun, but if you don’t want to sideline your health I have ONE tip for you.  Just one.  Easy, right?

    Practical Health Coaching Tip#1:

    Decide which restaurant you’ll be dining at and look at their menu online BEFORE you go. Decide what you want and STICK TO THE PLAN.  

    When there’s a 45 minute wait and you want to chew off your arm by the time you’re seated, that’s what I call a recipe for disaster.  Throw in a less health conscious companion and you’re finished.  Unless you have a plan.  Remember that voice of reason and honor it.  Sure, the cheese fries look awesome and a margarita sounds divine.  But remember 2 hours ago when you decided you would have the grilled salmon with veggies and quinoa?  Make a promise to yourself and stick to it.  If you get a nutrient-dense meal and you want a celebratory glass of wine for dessert, go for it!  (Don’t worry, we’ll cover nutrient-dense foods soon enough.)

    Anyone out there like visualization techniques?  OK, here’s your final takeaway.  I love a good mantra.  I love movies too.  Yesterday I stumbled upon this cool tool.  Turns out there are nearly 600 films and tv shows where derivatives of the line “Stick to the plan!are used.  Our family geeks out over the Fast and Furious series so that’s an easy one for me.  Now I’m dining with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel… who said healthy eating couldn’t be Yum?!  

    I’d love to hear what Hollywood imagery you’ll be conjuring up to help you coast through your next restaurant meal – leave me a comment below!

    The Time of My Life

    You’re invited to the Luminous & Grounded birthday party! 

    And hey, what do you know, it’s my birthday too!? Maybe it’s a Leo thing, but I love a good celebration.  This year I gifted myself a blog.  And a URL.  And a farm table.  It’s all part of the big picture.  But hey, let’s not spoil all the birthday surprises.  In true Leo fashion I’ll be dishing out servings of birthday fun over the next several days… err… weeks…?  It’s going to be juicy and delicious.  And there’s no dress code!



    Now before you RSVP let’s cover the who, what, when, where, why and how, shall we?


    Who:  Rachel Abbett – Mom, Wife, Engineer, Dancer and (drum roll….) Health Coach

    What:  Health and wellness inspiration.  I’ll be sprinkling it like confetti and lighting the candles on your gluten-free cake!


    When:  I’ve always thought August 18th was a great day to have a birthday.  Carpe diem!


    Where: You found me.  Now don’t forget to bookmark and subscribe!


    Why:   Luminous & Grounded was born out of a desire for balance. Work hard, play hard, rest hard.  Cherish mind, body and soul.  Glow from within | Be Present | Live Vibrantly  


    How:  The idea behind coaching is to provide customized solutions (Wow, could I sound like more of a robot?  Speaking of which… remind me to show you mine sometime!).  But hey, I realize it may take a while for everyone to find their voice, so I’ll do my best to offer you the spice of life. 


    Thanks for making this the best birthday yet!  xoxo Rachel

    P.S.  And then this happened… #icebucketchallenge