A simple roasted butternut squash salad

butternutsquashsaladwarmvegan

Last year my dear friend Karly mentioned that she started seeing a business coach. She was struggling to find balance with her quickly growing career while juggling a busy personal life, and found some much needed support and accountability with a coach. Consider me intrigued! I admire her for taking the initiative to get outside help with running her own business, and for gently planting the seed in my own mind. As I wrote in my last post, asking for help has never been my forte, but I’m lucky to be surrounded by many self employed friends who are always eager to share their sanity-saving tips.

Life got busier than ever with our new family and work. The business coach idea fell off my radar, as I didn’t think I could add one more thing to an already full plate. Looking back, it probably would’ve helped me more than it didn’t, but recently, it was as if the universe was giving me a gentle nudge to go for it. Don’t you love when that happens? First, our friend Chris mentioned his business coach, and what a great experience he’s had over the years. Then, I saw Karly recently and she told me she’s been seeing her coach for over a year now with amazing success (and I’ve noticed the positive changes, too). Well, that was it. In the words of my girl crush Mindy Kaling, Why not me?! I decided right then and there that I would make time to give it a shot.

Our first session started with an exploratory exercise. My coach presented me with “The Wheel of Life”. It has various labels on it like “career”, “fun”, “personal growth”, “money”, “significant other”, “health”, “friends/family”, etc. Then I rated each one on a numerical scale from least to most satisfaction. The poor little wheel was so imbalanced by the time I was finished. I wasn’t the least bit surprised since I’ve felt like a wagon with 3 wheels for a while now, but this exercise helped me decide on a few areas to improve. Even though my original intent was to focus on business, I realized that personal growth, or lack thereof, impacts every single area of my life. I think it makes sense to start with this area as I’m sure it’ll have a positive impact on all the other areas too. I’m in my early thirties, but I occasionally feel like my personal growth is stuck in the last decade (or on bad days, maybe my first decade of life, hah). Is this just me, or can you relate to that feeling?

I can’t even tell you how many insights I had in our first session. We set some goals in a few categories, and I came up with some potential solutions to issues. Before we met, I decided that I wasn’t going to sugar coat things or make excuses for myself; as a result, our conversation was authentic, passionate, real, and inspiring. One thing I love is the accountability that I now have to follow though with goals. Rather than simply saying, “oh I’d love to hire a team some day…”, I’m actively moving forward with the goal! I don’t want to stand in my own way anymore. It’s amazing how much we can hold ourselves back by telling ourselves the same stories each day. The question is – what would YOU do if you got out of your own way?

howtoroastbutternutsquash

A Simple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free

This is my favourite method for cooking butternut squash – chopping it into small cubes, and roasting until it’s browned and slightly caramelized. I have to exercise some serious restraint not to eat the whole pan straight from the oven! I also include an easy recipe suggestion if you’d like to create a very simple fall salad. Roasted cubes of butternut squash are layered on a base of fluffy quinoa, and topped with creamy chopped avocado, sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. It’s simple, but delightful. Thank you to my friend Karly for inspiring this recipe. She brought this salad to a recent get together, and I knew I had to try recreating it at home. Lastly, my biggest tip for this dish is to make sure you season it properly. Quinoa and roasted squash will fall flat without a generous seasoning of sea salt, so don’t be shy. I also like to keep some Herbamare on hand when serving so others can season with additional salt if desired. Be sure to see my tips below on the many ways that you can change up this salad!

Yield
4-6 servings
Prep Time
25 Minutes
Cook time
50 Minutes
Total Time
1 Hour, 15 Minutes

Ingredients:

For the roasted butternut squash:
  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3-3.5lb) peeled, seeded, and diced (1/2-inch cubes, 8-9 cups chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, or oil of choice
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
For the salad:
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and chopped
  • Fresh lemon or lime juice, to taste
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. For the squash: Preheat the oven to 400F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the chopped squash onto the baking sheets and drizzle on 1 tablespoon of oil over top each. Toss to coat. Spread the squash into an even layer, being careful not to overcrowd the squash, and garnish with a few pinches of sea salt.
  3. Roast the squash until the bottoms are just starting to brown. For my oven, this takes about 50 minutes, but your time may vary. I recommend checking on it after 30 minutes, and then every 5-10 minutes after that. I don’t bother flipping it halfway through, but I do rotate the pans once half way through roasting as I have a hot spot in my oven. I find the squash tastes best when the bottoms are slightly browned (more than the photo shows).
  4. For the salad: Prepare the quinoa once you have about 25 minutes left of roasting the squash. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and transfer to a medium pot. Add 1 3/4 cups water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 13-16 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and remove from heat. Season the quinoa to taste with a generous amount of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Keep the lid on until ready to use so it stays warm.
  5. Pit and chop the avocado and have it ready to go just before assembly.
  6. When the squash is finished cooking, spread the warm quinoa onto a platter (or you can simply combine everything in a large bowl). Top the quinoa with all of the (hot out of the oven) roasted squash, and finally the chopped avocado. Garnish with a couple more pinches of salt, and a small amount of fresh lemon juice (or lime juice) drizzled over top (or you can try lemon or lime zest for a twist). I use a light touch with lemon juice as it can quickly overwhelm the other flavors. Serve immediately.

Want to change this dish up? Here are some ideas on how you can create a new dish!

- Add some minced garlic to the cooked quinoa for a subtle garlic flavour

- Sprinkle on some garlic powder or nutritional yeast

- Add black beans, chickpeas, or any bean of choice for a boost of protein

- Try experimenting with spices like cumin + chili powder + cayenne; cinnamon + nutmeg; curry powder + coriander, etc.

- Switch it up and use lemon juice instead of lime juice, and vice versa

- Try sprinkling fresh minced herbs to finish, such as parsley or cilantro

- Switch up the grains – I think a small amount of rice would pair really well here

- Skip the avocado and sprinkle on my pecan parmesan for a nutty crunch

- Add finely shredded kale, chard, or spinach for a boost of green power

roastedbutternutsquashsalad

Photography credit: Ashley McLaughlin Photography

Oh She Glows

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