It is the time of the year when squash are abundant, and one of my favorite ways to serve them are stuffed. Stuffed squash can be a wonderful holiday centerpiece for a vegetarian meal, although I doubt any meat eaters will pass it up; it is that delicious. I am often asked for this type of recipe, and so I thought I would share the more classic, roasted apple stuffed squash. It may sound complicated, but really they are simple to make; you can even make them ahead of time, then reheat them if you have company coming over. I like to use kabocha squash for this, because it is the sweetest and has a nice cavity for filling. I keep the filling here simple, just apples, dried cranberries and pecans with a few spices and maple. If you think you do not like squash, you should try it this way, and you may just change your mind!
It can be a challenge to find side dishes besides just veggies to use in place of traditional richer and caloric items, but sometimes all you need is a little color and lots of flavor. Such as in this Jelweled Wild Rice, which is a wonderful sub in place of traditional stuffing. It contains heart healthy oils, colorful pomegranate seeds rich in anti-oxidants, crunchy pistachios and the lovely flavor of orange. Once you have the wild rice cooked, it comes together in under 10 minutes, and is delicious best served at room temperature so there is no worry about keeping it warm, plus it is a good thing to make ahead of time. This is the perfect addition to any holiday table!
When most people think of cranberries, they think of the canned jelled kind served during the holidays, but there are actually many more ways to use them. For a little different twist on Thanksgiving, why not try a raw cranberry apple relish? It is refreshing, with a hint of orange zest and sweet cinnamon, and it goes perfect with the other traditional dishes. I know it takes a little more effort than opening a can, but really not much since all you need to do is pulse the ingredients in the food processor for about a minute or less. If you have extra, this is wonderful served on a sandwich or wrap, or alongside a chevre (such as the recipe for vegan macadamia chevre on our site), or even just with a spoon like applesauce.
Tempeh can be a great source of protein and pairs well with many things, a plus for when the seasons change. In the summer, I like it in wraps or cooler dishes, but in the chillier months it is great in place of meat in a stir fry or even served as a sort of steak. I am sharing a simple recipe here that is like that, crisped up tempeh served on top of flavorful caramelized apples and onions. It is delicious served with a side like potatoes, or even a salad if you want to go a little lighter.
I love roasting fruits for salads when the cooler months hit. One of the best fruits to roast which is in season right now is bosc pears. They stand up well to cooking, and if you get some perfectly ripe ones, they take little time to roast into deliciousness. They are wonderful in a salad with peppery greens and some sort of cheese; it is why I am sharing a recipe here using a vegan chevre made from heart healthy macadamias and some micro radish greens which you can find in the produce section by the salads at Fresh and Natural. This is a smaller salad to be used as a side dish. If you wanted it something more substantial for a meal, you could add toasted walnuts and more greens such as arugula underneath the pears.
If you are craving the sweetness and flavors of pumpkin pie, but would like something a little easier to make and kinder to the waistline, this pumpkin pie smoothie is for you! It is also a good use if you happen to have leftover pumpkin from something else you have made. This smoothie has the health benefits of vitamin A from the pumpkin and potassium from the bananas, plus it is non-dairy and gluten free! You can add a scoop of your favorite vanilla or plain protein powder for a more substantial snack or even a quick autumn breakfast on the go!
One of my favorite things about autumn is squash. Although there are many different varieties, my favorite is buttercup or kabocha because they are the sweetest naturally with little need for seasoning. I have been known to roast one and simply eat the whole thing plain; they are that good. I love them in soups, but salads with roasted squash are wonderful, if you are not in a soup mood. I am sharing a recipe here combining the squash with kale, sweet cranberries and crunchy pecans. It is delicious, but nutritiously dense from the kale and the vitamin A filled squash.
In Autumn you can still enjoy a delicious light creamy slaw as a side dish. Things such as brussels sprouts and flavorful local apples lend themselves well to a slaw, and even hold up a bit better than the traditional cabbage. I am sharing a vegan recipe here with a creamy dressing that is just as delicious as its mayo cousins. It uses raw cashew butter for richness, lemon for a bit of tart and honey to add sweetness. It goes wonderfully with the brussels sprouts and sweet apples. I added some cranberries for color as well and pine nuts for crunch, but if you are making this feel free to use your favorite nut. This makes a wonderful healthy alternative to the usual slaw, and it is just as delicious!
Although you can buy many non-dairy milks at the store, you can easily make them at home. By making them yourself, you can control all the ingredients that go into them. You can also vary the flavors to go along with what you are serving them with. One delicious nut milk not available in stores is pecan milk. It is slightly sweet, and is wonderful with cinnamon added to it in the fall. You can make a creamy oatmeal, or an autumn themed smoothie with it, or just enjoy a glass alone it is that good. Plus, you are getting healthy fats!
Most of us love fries, but we do not necessarily want the unhealthy fat that to often associated with the french fry. No need to give up fries all together though. Baked yam fries are a great option, and as a plus they have more vitamins than regular potato fries. I like to put some spicy chipotle and chili powder on mine and serve them with a heart healthy avocado cilantro sauce similar to guacamole. Both the sauce and the fries are simple to make, and the key is to roast the fries in a hot oven for maximum crispness. Both kids and adults will love these, and if you want them a little milder, go lighter on the chipotle. But if you are like me and you like spice, you can double the amount in the recipe.