healthy recipes from Ellipse Fitness

Simple Tips That Will Change Dieting Forever

Not Sure Where To Begin?

We have all been there. It is time to make a change. You feel like you need to make a major shift in the way you eat. A friend had great success with this or that extreme diet, while someone else you know had terrible results.

There is so much information, and honestly so much BAD information out there with regards to dieting and proper nutrition that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Making drastic changes, cutting, slashing, restricting, etc can lead to a very short-lived diet change for most of us. Try taking it one step at a time and incorporating these basic ideas!

1. Eat Intuitively!

Intuitive Eating is associated with lower body fat and better relationships with food. Eat intuitively by rating your hunger on a scale from 1 (weakness/dizziness has set in) to 10 (you may have to roll me out the door/filled to the point of feeling sick).

Really listening to your body before eating, to determine if you are truly hungry, and while eating slowing down to let your body detect fullness levels, will keep you on the right track with intuitive eating. Try it at your next meal!

2. Think Abundance Instead of Restriction!

Start by adding an additional serving of vegetables to your day. Once that becomes habit, add two servings. When eating intuitively, the vegetables will start to take the place of more calorie dense food choices like starches or junk food!

3. Check Your Portions!

Our friends at Precision Nutrition suggests a palm of protein, a cupped hand of carbohydrates, a fist of vegetables, and a thumb of fat for most. If you are still hungry, add another fist of vegetables. Click the image for a great article on portion control!

Still hungry after intuitively eating? Add a small amount of protein. It will take a number of weeks (maybe even months) to work through and find the amounts and timing that works best for you body, lifestyle, and schedule. There is no one-size fits all in nutrition, but start from a baseline and build from there.

4. Don’t Give Up All Your Favorites!

The IDEA Fitness Journal suggests “Flipping” your ingredients. Instead of that traditional burrito, ask for a burrito bowl which puts all the ingredients of a burrito into a bowl instead of a wrap.

Instead of eating ice cream with fruit on top, try a spoonful of ice cream on top of a bowl of fruit!

Instead of a steak dinner with a side of potato and vegetable, try a salad with sliced steak and cubed potatoes on the side.

(Source: Padgett, Cassandra MS . “Nutrition Hacks Based on Hard Science” IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2019: 46-49. Print)

5. Beware of False “Health Food”!

Be cautious of “Food Halos” – foods high in sugar or artificial ingredients that are packaged to appear healthy and may even be lurking in the “health food” section of the grocery store!

Tuna and chicken salads for instance are often laden with heavy amounts of mayo. Making your own? Try swapping out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.

Think instant oatmeal is a healthy go-to breakfast? Be watchful of high sugar levels! Consider using one pack and adding plain rolled oats, walnuts, and berries to balance out the load…even better, start with plain oats and build your own oatmeal so you are aware of what is going into it!

6. Build Healthy Habits!

The most important thing to remember is that building healthy habits and determining the right path for YOUR body will take time. Determine your priority in nutrition. Where can you make an easy change that will have significant results for your health and wellness?

Is it more water every day? Maybe you drink several sodas per day and just swapping them out with water will yield you incredible benefits!

Need to eat more vegetables? To trim out the excess snacking or late-night eating? Work on ONE habit first and do not move on until it’s mastered. For many, this will take at least a week or two. In some cases, much longer.

It may take more time than you’d like – scratch that, it WILL take longer than you’d like – but in the long run when it’s just part of what you do and you are well on your way to your goal, it will seem like a blink in time.

Take it one step at a time…

Chickpeas – WAY More Than Hummus!

Two-weeks ago we talked about plant-based eating. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans have a moderate calorie load and are a great source for fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Despite their starchy appearance, chickpeas fall into the low-glycemic load category (with a glycemic index of 28).

Make chickpeas, from dry, easily at home with an Instant Pot! Dried beans are incredibly cheap even compared with their canned counterparts and aren’t loaded with sodium! Check out a super easy NO-SOAK chickpea recipe from a previous blog post using an Instant Pot!

First: Some Background

Chickpeas were first harvested in 3000 B.C in southeast Turkey and later spread to India and Africa. Today they are a part of many nutritious dishes by swapping out less nutrient dense items like pasta.

Chickpeas are classified pulses. Pulses are part of the legume family, any plant that grows in a pod, but a pulse is the dry edible seed within the pod. Pulses are complex carbs, which means they stick with you longer releasing energy over time vs simple sugars which release all their energy at once – increasing blood sugar and fat storage.

Pulses contain PREbiotic fiber (undigetstible plant fibers that feed the probiotics/good bacteria) which contributes to gut health! These powerhouses of nutrition contain more folate than kale! Eat more vegetables by dipping them in your own fresh hummus, or incorporate chickpeas into your diet many different ways via the recipes below!

Recipes

Make Your Own Hummus!

In a food processor, combine 1 can of chickpeas, 2-4 Tbsp. water, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4-1/2 Tsp smoked paprika, 3/4 Tsp cumin, and 1/2 Tsp salt. Blend until smooth! Get creative with add in’s like spinach, olives, feta cheese, and more! If you like thinner hummus, simply add more water. Super FAST and TASTY!

Charred Chickpea Corn Salad

Combining chickpeas, quinoa, sweet peppers, and avocado – this healthy recipe is amazingly delicious!

Check it out here!

Super-Fast Chicken and Chickpeas

Directions: In a large skillet, sauté the garlic in 1 tsp olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken and onions. Stir fry for a few minutes, until onions begin to brown, then add the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes, until the meal has a good consistency.

– 8 oz roasted chicken breast, chopped
– 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1 large tomato, chopped
– 2 tsp olive oil

– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1/4 tsp cumin
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 cardamom pods (Or equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg)

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa

Here we’ve found a really interesting recipe for sweet & savory, 30-minute Moroccan chickpea quinoa salad made in one pot!

Easy, nutritious, beautiful AND delicious!

Get the recipe here!

Spinach & Sweet Potato Crustless Quiche

Try chickpeas for BREAKFAST with this veggie quiche! (note: nutritional yeast is part of the recipe which gives it the cheesy flavor without cheese!)

Roast sweet potato cubes in the oven, then combine chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt and water. Mix with roasted sweet potato cubes, spinach, garlic, and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. Voila!

Full recipe here!

Plant-Based Eating Tips and Recipes!

It’s no longer a secret that shifting towards plant-based/whole foods eating, which minimizes processed foods, is best for your overall health.

Plant-based eating limits, or eliminates, animal products and focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds/nuts, and whole grains which provides higher amounts of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Many think of vegetarian’s when they think of plant-based eating, but there are numerous varieties of eating plant-based. This week we’ll look at the differences among them and maybe find a plant-based style that works for you!

But FIRST: To kick off your New Year, today’s mission for you is to go through your cupboards and toss, donate, or give away all those foods that do not fit your health and fitness goals – and start anew! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some healthy recipes too!

Which Plant-Based Diet is Right For You?

No matter who you are, we believe the majority of your diet should be plant-based. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy eating animal products, just that we should strive to allow plants to make up the majority of our calories and nutrition. Let’s discuss some varieties of primarily plant-based diets:

Vegetarian

Even within this meat-less category there are numerous forms:

Lacto-Vegetarian – Including dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.

Ovo-Vegetarian – Including eggs only

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian – As you may have guessed, lacto-ovo-vegetarians exclude meat but allows for dairy and eggs.

Pescatarian

Essentially, vegetarians that exclude dairy and eggs but do include fish. Fatty-fish, like salmon area great way to get your omega-3’s in. For the most benefit, look for wild caught salmon vs farmed.

Not a big fish fan? Try Sea Cuisine which offers sustainably caught seafood with a variety of tasty flares like Mediterranean crusted salmon, tortilla crusted tilapia, and summer herb crusted cod. They also offer non-crusted fish like blacked Cajun salmon. Available in most grocery stores in the frozen fish area.

Flexitarian

Flexitarians are “casual” vegetarians that occasionally eat meat, fish, dairy and/or eggs. For many it is hard to make the switch altogether away from animal products and still adequately meet nutritional needs – at least until they figure out strategies and recipes that allow them to do so. Not everything has to be a clean break!

Vegan

While veganism and vegetarianism crossover much of the same territory – veganism tends to take things to another level by even excluding products from insects – like honey for instance – and in some cases branching beyond what goes in your mouth and abstaining from using non-dietary animal products like wool.

To cover all ends of the spectrum, on this extreme we have Raw Veganism, which also do not cook their foods above 104-118 degrees F, instead relying primarily on preparation methods of blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting.

Recipes

Plant-based eating doesn’t mean you have to eat exotic flavors and try crazy new dishes if you don’t wish!

Try this “Burger” In A Bowl from our friends at Precision Nutrition! Squeeze a dollop of ketchup and mustard over a cup of warm, cooked, lentils and top with a chopped pickle and dash of hemp seeds. This 300 calorie dish serves up 25 grams of protein!

Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing:
This lacto-vegetarian dish includes some chickpeas with a healthy dose of cabbage, tomatoes, and cucumber along with some healthy fat to keep you full and satisfied!

The dressing blends an avocado with a small amount of plain Greek yogurt, and is a great dressing to keep on hand for any kind of salad!

Get the full recipe here!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos:

Interested in becoming plant-based but don’t know where to start? Try increasing the number of meatless meals you serve. Find ways to include more greens daily. Try substituting a more vegetarian take on already favorite dish like chili or Mexican dishes (sweet potato and black beans versus ground beef in this recipe).

Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad:

This vegan and vegetarian friendly dish includes a major dose of veggies – cabbage, carrots, green onion, snow or snap peas, and cilantro – plus quinoa for a protein boost! (Use maple syrup instead of honey to complete as a vegan dish).

Get it here!

Plant-based diets can tend to be deficient in specific micronutrients like vitamin B-12, calcium, omega-3’s, and vitamin D. You may want to consider getting tested for these nutrients and/or supplement for them if you become a plant-based eater or vegetarian/vegan. Good luck!

Leftover Holiday Ham? Recipes to Make the Best of it!

Ham at Christmas was originally known as the Yule Ham. Initially termed “hamm”, the word was defined as meat from a hog’s hind legs. It was said to have started with the German pagan tradition, presented to appease the god, Freyr – the god of fertility, harvest, and boars! (Another pagan tradition included the Christmas Tree!).

China was actually the first to start curing ham in 4900 BC, but enough with the history lesson. This week we have numerous ways to use up that leftover holiday ham!

Leftover Holiday Ham Recipes!

Ham and Veggie Casserole

Without cauliflower on hand, this recipe was tested with Costco Stir Fry Vegetables and it turned out fantastic! It’s a forgiving (meaning you can add as many veggies as you like!) recipe that combines ham, veggies, and a lighter cheese sauce topped with toasted bread crumbs. Get it here!

Cheesy Egg Stuffed Peppers

Microwave some bell pepper halves for 3 minutes to soften. Fill with chopped ham, sautéed onions and chopped peppers, beaten eggs, and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

FYI – This recipe makes extra fill so consider using 3 pepper halves. This recipe was enjoyed by kids and adults alike!

Ham and Brussel Sprouts

Simply toss 1 pound of brussel sprouts halved with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup of cubed ham, a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of salt, and a clove of minced garlic in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top with 1 tablespoon of toasted bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon fresh parmesan cheese.

Check out the recipe here!

Veggie Fried Rice Crispy Ham

This recipe includes protein and fiber rich edamame with ham in this unique recipe! Talk about mixing things up from the blend, heavy flavors of the holiday time.

Full recipe

Crockpot Cheesy Vegetable Soup

Remember that so many recipes are flexible! Though this one doesn’t call for protein, tossing in some ham or turkey can make it a more complete and filling meal…plus it is delicious and kid friendly! This wintery, healthier comfort food recipe was tested with 1 potato, extra broccoli and carrots, and ham and chicken tossed in.

Get it here from “Super Healthy Kids”!

***Just like chicken, ham is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, ham’s high sodium content may increase your risk for certain health problems. Thus, using ham as a flavoring or add-in versus a main course may be a healthier way to use it.

Why is the sodium a concern in ham? Sodium nitrate specifically (found in many cured or processed meats) can be converted into nitrosamines during the processing, storage, or cooking process, and nitrosamines are linked to higher rates of cancer. Therefore, ham is best eaten as a special treat.***

Low Calorie Mocktails for a Guilt-Free Party Season!

Between Christmas and the New Year celebrations, the drinks are usually flowing and can cause havoc on fitness goals. We know it’s not reality for most to avoid all alcoholic drinks this season, so instead let’s talk about ways you can lighten up your cocktails!

Sparkling Water can be a magical ingredient when it comes to lightening up your cocktails. Stock up and get ready for healthier mixology 101 this week!

Moscow Mules

These are certainly a buzz drink right now! Everywhere you look it’s Copper Mugs and Ginger Beer. Unfortunately, they are also loaded with sugar! Topping 20 grams per glass and loaded with around 200 calories. Many ginger beers contain unwanted ingredients and most don’t even have actual ginger in them!

Here’s how to create a 100 calorie low sugar Moscow Mule. It combines ginger root, water, stevia, lemon juice, sparkling water, vodka and mint. Get the recipe here – YUM!

Green Tea Toddy

Jazz up your cocktail with green tea antioxidants! Brew 8 ounces of green tea and chill 1/2 for the next drink on our list!

For this one, use 4 ounces of the hot green tea and dissolve 1 oz of honey in it. Add 2 ounces of bourbon and toss in a cinnamon stick for flare. Simple AND delicious!

Fizzy Sparkling Mocktail

Use the leftover tea that you chilled in the fridge:

Pour 1/2 cup of Cherry Sparkling Hint Water over 1/2 cup of chilled green tea. Add fresh mint for an added minty boost and top with 2 oz Vodka if desired!

Blackberry Mocktail

Crush some blackberries in a glass. Add ice and 2 TBSP of lemon juice. Add 4 ounces of HINT Blackberry Fizz water. Enjoy and be Angelic!

Not feeling so angelic? Add 2 ounces of vodka and enjoy!

Too Much Work You Say??

Looking for a single step, lower calorie drink? Try the new White Claw Hard Seltzer. With 110 calories per can, it combines seltzer water, a spike of alcohol, and some natural fruit flavors to give you the feel of a cocktail without the load of calories and sugar.

Treat Yourself with Healthy No-Bake Goodies to Die For!

First it was Thanksgiving, now it’s holiday parties and prep! Offer to bring a healthy(er) option that you know is a safer go-to when you don’t know what you are stepping into. That is a strategy of winners!

This week we have some healthier no-bake holiday treats to share that you can whip up in no time!

Prepare Your Tastebuds!

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

Delicious! Combine nut butter with some oats, almonds, and chocolate chips. All ingredients are prepped in a pot and plopped on some parchment paper to chill in the fridge until they set. Although they are high in fat, nuts and nut butters are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals!

No-Bake 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Did you know 80% of the world’s supply of maple syrup comes from Quebec, Canada? Now of course syrup is sugar (a good natural substitute), but it is also high in antioxidants and nutrients like zinc, potassium, and magnesium. These cookies are a quick healthier treat that can be tossed together for that last-minute party invite or cookie exchange.

Avo-Keto Chocolate Truffles

Avocados are amazing! With the fruit’s smooth texture and flavor, it easily lends itself to many styles of dishes. They’re also loaded with fiber, healthy fat, and 20 different vitamins and minerals! Simply combine melted chocolate with avocado, vanilla, and salt. Chill and then roll into balls and coat with cocoa powder!

Don't Need Something Sweet?

Although no-bake desserts are always a hit, you could also bring an appetizer or dip to your next party!

Broccoli Pesto Dip

Think flavorful pesto with the vitamin boost of broccoli and a protein boost of ricotta! This dip is as simple as lightly boiling the broccoli and then tossing all ingredients into a food processor. Serve with vegetables or pita chips.

Deviled Egg Salad

Do you like the idea of no-bake recipes but want a touch of classic? Check out this Deviled Egg Salad recipe. It’s much more dignified than trying to stuff a half an egg into your mouth! Consider replacing mayo with plain Greek yogurt or a mixture of the two. Time Saver: Did you know you can purchase hard boiled eggs at Costco?

5 Ways to Boost Your Breakfast Protein for Better Results!

Breakfast.

Just the word brings about warm fuzzy feelings of coffee, toast, pancakes, potatoes, oatmeal, muffins, and more…carbohydrates.

You may be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t find breakfast to be their favorite meal of the day, but there is often one major problem with breakfast – the lack of protein! (and veggies for that matter)

Work to get a protein source at breakfast as well as a vegetable, or least a fruit to pack some extra nutrients in your “most important meal of the day”! This helps to set you up for recovery from your workouts and ensures you are giving your body what it needs to reap the benefits of all the hard work you put in at the gym!

1. Start Simple!

Start easy by making a homemade parfait with plain Greek yogurt, fruit, seeds, and perhaps a dollop of local honey or maple syrup.

Greek Yogurt is a great protein source, but be aware of flavored yogurts!! You wouldn’t believe how much sugar they add into even “healthy” brands.

2. Add Eggs!

Eggs can be as simple as hard-boiled eggs (an Instant-Pot makes these super easy by the way!) or as fancy as a breakfast casserole (think leftovers for the week!). Check out this recipe for a breakfast casserole that combines spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggs, and hash browns for a nutrient packed and high protein breakfast!

3. Add Cottage Cheese!

Cottage cheese can be added to many dishes to add a protein kick, like shakes and baked goods. Especially for those who aren’t a big fan, adding to baked goods is quite good!

Have you tried our classic Ellipse Protein Pancakes with cottage cheese, oatmeal, and egg beaters as the main ingredients?

Or maybe even go as simple as serving cottage cheese and berries with some Kodiak Pancakes. If you haven’t found Kodiak cakes in the store yet, you’re missing out!

4. Add Protein Powder!

So many people count on that quick morning shake or smoothie. Try adding a scoop of protein powder (and even consider a greens powder) to give your breakfast a major nutrition boost!

See the cottage cheese suggestion above as well, because it makes a great add-in to shakes as well to thicken them up and add protein.

5. Add quinoa!

Quinoa? That’s right! Quinoa has 8g of protein per cup – the highest of any grain – and it’s a vegan/vegetarian source of protein!

Try this Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa with cinnamon, pecans, and maple syrup! YUM!!

Or try this Sweet Quinoa Breakfast Bowl!

Break The Fast with Protein

Choose breakfast consciously instead of mindlessly grabbing the same thing each morning! Plan it like any other meal throughout the day.

Try adding some beans to your breakfast burrito or it could be as simple as adding some vanilla protein powder to your coffee in place of creamer (TIP: make sure to cool a small cup of coffee to mix the powder in first so it doesn’t clump from too high of heat. then add the rest after it’s been emulsified).

Pumpkin Recipes Galore for a Very Delicious Halloween Season!

It’s pumpkin season!

Let’s Kick It Off With Some Fun Facts:
– Pumpkins are a winter squash native to North America
– In other parts of the world ANY winter squash is referred to as a pumpkin)
– Because a pumpkin contains seeds, scientifically it would be classified as a fruit, though nutritionally it’s more like a vegetable
– Pumpkins are 94% water (low calorie!) and high in vitamin A (beta-carotene) and fiber
– Beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Grab your pumpkins and pumpkin puree this week to try some delicious new seasonal recipes!

As a storage crop, pumpkins can be stored in a cool dry place for up to 2 months. The best pumpkins to cook with are “pie pumpkins” which are a smaller and sweeter variety as opposed to the ones you carve for Halloween.

Know The Difference!

It may sound obvious to some, but you must be sure to make the right choice when grabbing canned pumpkin puree from the store!

There is a difference between “Pumpkin” and “Pumpkin Pie Mix”, although the cans sometimes look darn near identical.

Pumpkin Pie Mix however can have as many as 10-15 grams MORE sugar per serving!! And that adds up fast. Pumpkin is naturally sweet on it’s own, consider just adding some nutmeg, cinnamon and clove for authentic pie flavoring!

Let's Get Cooking!    

Flourless Pumpkin Muffins

These Healthy Flourless Pumpkin Muffins are moist, delicious, and super easy to make. They’re gluten-free, oil-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free!

Pumpkin Chocolate Yogurt

Combine Greek yogurt with pumpkin puree, honey, cinnamon, and cocoa powder – Enjoy!

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Did someone say PIE? We would be foolish not to mention such a thing in pumpkin season after all…

This recipe recommends your sugar of choice or xylitol which is often used as a sugar-free substitute. Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol in many plants and contains 2.4 calories per gram in comparison to 4 calories per gram for table sugar.

Tired of the Same Old Protein Shake?

• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
• 10 oz unsweetened almond milk
• 1/4 cup pumpkin purée (try frozen puree for a thicker consistency!)
• 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup ice
Blend and enjoy!

Healthy Pumpkin Soup

Velvety, creamy, rich and smooth…this is such an easy, healthy pumpkin soup recipe that you will be able to pull off in no time!

Blueberry Pumpkin Oat Muffins

This recipe replaces the oil or butter with pumpkin puree and applesauce which keeps the muffins moist without losing flavor. By having one of these instead of your standard coffee shop blueberry muffin, you’ll save 200 calories and 18g of fat!

Find the full recipe here!

How d’You Like Them Apples?!

It’s that time of year again! Go out to a local orchard and pick some fresh apples! Did you know many store-bought apples could have been in cold storage for almost a whole YEAR before they end up in your kitchen?

Fun Apple Facts!

• Apples ripen 6-10 times faster at room temperature than if refrigerated.

• Many store-bought apples could have been in cold storage for almost a year before they end up in your kitchen!

• The ONLY apple native to North America is the crabapple.

• It takes 2 pounds of apples to make a 9-inch apple pie, and about 36 apples to make a gallon of apple cider!

• Did you know? Apples are grown in ALL 50 states!

Why You NEED Apples in Your Life!

• A standard apple contains less than 100 calories and is a good source for fiber and vitamin C!

• Apples help lower cholesterol and the risk of type 2 diabetes, so as the saying goes…”An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”

• Apples are high in polyphenols which act as antioxidants, so they are great for your immune system and heart!

Love Apples, but Tired of Eating Them Plain?

We’ve got you covered! Check out these great, simple recipes to have your apples all kinds of different ways!

Apple Pie Energy Bites

– Packed with fresh apples, dried cranberries, nuts and warm spices, these bite-sized snacks are full of protein and will boost your energy to get you through the day! Ready in only 10 minutes!

Grandma’s Apple Butter (No Sugar Added!)

– This apple butter contains only the natural sugars of the apples, and is made in the Instant Pot in just one hour!

Slow-Cooker Apple Sauce

– What I love about this recipe is that it’s just about as easy as it gets– the only ingredients are apples and water, and all you have to do is throw them in a slow cooker…

Want even more great Apple Recipes?? Check out our blog post from last apple season for more!

Show Me!

“Squash” the Boring or Tired Menu with Brand New Recipes!

It’s squash season!

Now is the time to munch on some squash while it is at its peak in flavor and nutrition. Pick it up in bulk for cheap at your local markets, because squash can be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area (like a basement) for months in most cases! Keep squash on hand for those days where you may not have planned well enough and run out of vegetables in the house!

We are going to shine a light on some lesser-known varieties, and give you some fantastic ways to use them!

Delicata Squash

Delicata squash have a cucumber-y shape but are yellow with green variegated lines and grooves. Delicata are delicious due to their sweet flavor and edible skin. Slice delicata the lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and cut into quarter-inch moons. Place on baking sheet sprayed with oil (Mistos work great), spritz the top of the squash “moons” and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place under broiler on low. When the tops are golden brown, flip until bottom side is browned and enjoy!

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash (also called a pepper squash) has the shape of an acorn, with ridges. Like a delicata squash, this winter squash has thin skin which is edible when cooked. The mildly sweet and nutty flavor however lend itself well in savory dishes where it is a base layer or by itself in sweet dishes.

It’s also the king of squash nutritionally speaking with the most folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium! 1 cup of cooked acorn squash has more potassium than 2 bananas and 9 grams of fiber (adult men need 38g/day and adult women need 25g/day).

PRO TIP: Acorn squash is HARD! To cut it, try microwaving for approx. 3 minutes before cutting to make it easier.

Butternut Squash

Coming in second place, nutritionally, is Butternut squash. Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor that is perfect for simply cubing and roasting in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper! This squash can also offer a healthy sweet treat by tossing it with cinnamon, maple syrup, and salt until caramelized in the oven – YUM!

Butternut squash, with its sweet flavor, can also be substituted for Mexican dishes that often contain sweet potatoes. Although you likely will not eat a whole butternut squash in one sitting, one butternut squash has over 350% of your vitamin A requirements!

Spaghetti Squash

Although spaghetti squash offers the lowest nutritional density of the squashes, it’s also a great low carb and low calorie vegetable option or substitute for heavy starches like pasta! Eat spaghetti squash on its own, maybe tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper or swap it out for noodles in your favorite dish.

Now Let’s Get Cooking!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Filled with brown rice, lean ground beef, tomatoes and warming spices this dish is a comforting and splendidly colorful meal loaded with earthy and delicious flavors!

Turkey Mushroom Apple Acorn Squash

Looking for a simple, nutritious dinner? This recipe is perfect for a quick meal and filled with warm winter flavors!

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

20 minutes prep time, major flavor, and easily converted to vegan!

Mexican Stuffed Butternut Squash

This weeknight dinner might look fancy, but it’s unbelievably easy to make! Savory, wholesome, vegetarian goodness in under an hour

Spaghetti Squash

The flesh of spaghetti squash comes out in long strands, very much resembling the noodles for which it is named. In this recipe, the ‘noodles’ are tossed with vegetables and feta cheese.