I keep working on my relationship with butternut squash. I made a rule to buy it every few weeks and just “go for it” in the kitchen. Today in a form of butternut squash quinoa salad with dried fruits, smoked paprika and buttery warm dressing. Where paprika is not just paprika and “butter” is not really a butter.
We all know I am not vegan but I’m very mindful of what I eat focusing more on plant-based than animal products on a daily basis (so glad wine and coffee are vegan & gluten free). Clean eating to me is eating local, organic and sustainable as much as I can. And moderation. I can’t stress enough how balance and moderation is important to me. And from what I learnt, to many of you as well. Otherwise, I would binge and could never sustain a clean eating lifestyle.
So, today’s butternut squash quinoa salad is made with Earth Balance’s organic whipped buttery spread as part of their Make Me Mindful campaign.This “butter” is vegan, non-GMO and perfect for those who strive for moderation. Honestly, 1 lb of organic butter lasts us 3-4 months because we use so many other plant-based fats (organic MindfulMayo® is next on my list).
Tell me, would you ever think of melting butter and pouring all over your salad? Me neither. But I felt like I could do that with plant-based oils and they would add richness to this warm salad.
I also felt like I would get away by simply smothering my butternut squash quinoa salad in “butter” if I used some dominant spice. Smoked paprika, oh how I love it! No, let me rephrase previous sentence: “Oh, how Alex loves it!”. A few months ago this jar was rim full of organic smoked paprika I got at a food co-op. Wherever it is Alex’s turn to cook (usually weekends) we get a meal with…smoked paprika. And anything made with it tastes amazing!
I swear that guy does not remember or have a single recipe in his mind. But when he shows up in the kitchen and throws everything together (usually in a wok, chopped, whatever is in the fridge and pantry, with smoked paprika) me and kids are lip smacking.
On a serious note, I think if Alex would start posting his creations you would love them! Even with their most weird names because there is no structure to his recipes. Mexican, Indian, Ukrainian? What is that?! He also doesn’t measure or remember what he added. Great, a recipe by Alex is coming out in 2040.
So, do you like my idea of melted plant-based “butter” as a salad dressing? I think it is perfect for a warm salad which this butternut squash quinoa salad is. It can also be served as a side.
I really loved the addition of sweet dried fruits: cranberries, raisins and dates. They add iron, fiber and multiple vitamins to your meal. Not to mention another layer of sweetness on top of butternut squash’s one. Do not get hung up on sugar and carbs – dried fruit is super good for us. Unsulphured and organic – the best.
Stopping to count calories and rather concentrate on a quality of ingredients was also part of becoming mindful a few years ago. Because you can drink a zero calorie beverage and consume a bunch of chemicals or you can drink tea with honey and consume sugar and many nutrients and vitamins.
I was watching a travel cooking show the other day where hostess was exploring Greece and cooking local food. At first, I thought “It is the same 4 ingredients in every recipe. How much olive oil did she just pour?!”. But then I quickly realized that is how real food cooking was and should be – wholesome and simple.
Be mindful of what you eat rather than concentrating on numbers, both on scale and nutrition label. Enjoy this butternut squash quinoa salad!
- 3 lbs butternut squash, peeled & cubed
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance whipped buttery spread
- 1/3 cup cranberries, dried
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 6 Medjool dates, pitted & chopped
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- Pinch salt and ground black pepper
- Cooking spray (I use Misto)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Add butternut squash and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 50 minutes or until fork tender and brown edges/bottoms. It might take less or more time depending on the colour of your baking sheet and oven. I also broiled it at the end until a bit brown on top.
- In the meanwhile, cook quinoa as per package instructions. Do not cool it down as warm quinoa will help keep the spread melted. Melt Earth Balance whipped buttery spread on a stovetop or in a microwave.
- In a large bowl, combine baked squash, cooked quinoa, cranberries, raisins, dates, smoked paprika and apple cider vinegar. Pour melted buttery spread on top and gently stir. Taste and adjust salt and ground black pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Amount Per Serving = 1 cup:
Total Fat: 8.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 103.8 mg
Total Carbs: 63.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 10.5 g
Protein: 6.7 g
WW Points+: 9
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Earth Balance. The opinions and text are all mine.