When I tell someone that I don’t eat much meat and try to adhere to a plant-based diet, the first question is always “Well, what do you eat?” I realize that even though it is becoming more popular, a plant-based diet is not “mainstream” and many people I talk to are very curious about what I eat. I think the biggest misconception about a plant-based diet is that it’s boring and takes a lot of self control to not indulge in crowd favorites like bacon or cheese.
The first thing I tell people about my dietary choices is that I never feel deprived and I genuinely LOVE the food I’m eating. I definitely choose to eat this way for my health, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – plants are (or can be) DELICIOUS. One of my favorite things to do is cook a plant-based meal for a friend (or T) and see that utterly surprised look on their face after they take their first bite. If I haven’t done this already, I then talk their ear off about all the nutrients in the dish and what ingredients are giving them their protein, carbs and healthy fats.
The dish I’m sharing today is a showstopper to share with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends. Everyone I’ve shared this dish with loves it and was shocked at how full and satisfied they were after eating it.
This dish incorporates some of the staples in my diet – vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts. It’s the perfect dish for fall (hint: acorn squash is in season right now) and I plan on making it for Thanksgiving this year! It can be served as the main dish for vegetarians or as a side for turkey eaters so it’s extremely diverse. For those of us that take pride in a picture perfect dinner, it looks beautiful on a Thanksgiving table. If you happen to have any leftovers of the rice mixture, I recommend turning it into a rice bowl and throwing some avocado on top! Enjoy!
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
3 acorn squash (cut in half lengthwise and seeded)
2 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1 cup rice (I used wild but you could also use brown or white)
2 cups water or low sodium vegetable broth (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 large handfuls of greens (I used spinach but kale would also work)
1 15 oz can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (you can leave out if you don’t like spice)
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In an oven safe pan, fill with about a 1/2 inch of water and place cut and seeded acorn squash into pan.
- Brush acorn squash with olive oil and season acorn squash with thyme and salt.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes.
- Cook rice according to package This can be done at the same time as squash (for more flavor, cook your rice in low sodium vegetable or chicken broth).
- Set rice and squash aside.
- In a large sauce pan, heat oil on medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic, and peppers. Sauté for about three minutes.
- Add mushrooms, beans, 1 tablespoon of thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté for another three minutes.
- Add leafy greens, and sauté until wilted.
- Add rice.
- Scoop mixture into acorn squash and top with any seasonings you want (I added roasted walnuts but I also think dried cranberries would be good!)
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
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