Butternut Squash & Cranberry Nut Quinoa

 

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Hello, again!  We’ve missed you!

Rachel and I took a short Spring Sabbatical after an intense few months of finishing up the manuscript for our next book.  The title of the book is  Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep.   (It will be released next January, with Zondervan Publishers.) We decided to take some of our own advice in the book, and take a little time off to nourish ourselves — to rest, spend time with family and friends we ignored as we typed away to meet our deadline,  and let our brains lie fallow for a bit.

I am spending my 55th birthday in sunny Phoenix this week,  a treat and restoration to my soul, especially for this heat-seeking girl who has been stuck in cold, snowy Denver this Spring.  I love Denver,  but “Spring” only lasts one month in Denver:  May.  Which means our winter, though often mild and sunny,  is long and brown.   My eyes are drinking up the bright colors of emerald green and the colorful flowers of purple, scarlet, yellow and orange in warm Arizona.

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It has taken a little while, but my desire to cook and to blog has returned.  A good sign that my brain has rested enough to access some creative neurons again.

And so this brings us today’s recipe for Butternut Squash and Cranberry Nut Quinoa.

I will admit it.  I came late to the Quinoa party.  In fact,  for a long time, I had a fear of cooking quinoa.

But now, thanks to my daughter’s encouragement and my rice maker (and in a pinch, my microwave) quinoa is my new best friend.  I make up a batch at the beginning of the week and keep it in sealed in plasticware , and then toss the fluffy, protein rich, poppy stuff into all sorts of goodies.  I love making wraps and burritos with fresh tortillas, quinoa, leftover veggies or tidbits of meat or beans and salsa.  (Be sure to check out this recipe for Quinoa Mango Black Bean Burrito.) 

For quick lunches,  I will often make a layered “bowl” (on a theme similar to the popular 7 layered Mexican “dip”).  hummus or refried beans in the bottom of the bowl, followed by quinoa and chopped fresh veggies: yesterday I topped my quinoa- bean bowl with chopped avocado, tomatoes, green onion and cilantro, then gave it all a drizzle of balsamic dressing and ate it with pita chips.  (Tortilla chips also work great.)

There there is the ever popular side dish.   I made this combination of quinoa with butternut squash and dried cranberries last week, and it reminded me of Thanksgiving…. and was wonderful alongside slices of rotisserie  chicken.

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Butternut Squash & Cranberry Nut Quinoa 

3 cups of cooked quinoa  (Click on link to see Rachel’s easy directions for Red Pepper Quinoa.  If you cook it with veggie or chicken broth, it adds another layer of yummy flavor. 1 cup dried quinoa will yield 3 cups cooked.)

1 1/2 cups of cooked, diced  butternut squash or sweet potatoes (If you have time to roast the diced squash or sweet potatoes in a little olive oil, on a sheet pan, at 350 for about 15 minutes, this adds a nice caramalization and firmness. If you are in a hurry, you can quickly microwave a package of frozen butternut squash.)

1/2 c. dried cranberries or cherries

1/2 c. toasted nuts (slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts or pine nuts are all delicious)

Optional:  1/4 cup feta or goat cheese or blue cheese crumbled

1/4 cup balsamic dressing, your favorite brand (or to your taste )

1/2 t. ground sage

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Gently toss together all the ingredients, while warm, in a bowl.  Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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