I was at a dinner party the other night and a fellow guest was lamenting that everything we love to eat is bad for us.
I looked down at the pretty spread on my own plate and had to admit, she was onto something there. German chocolate cake. Bad. Full fat spare ribs. Bad. Heavily dressed salad with cheese and salami. Bad. Butter drenched garlic bread. Bad. Huge tumbler of red wine. Bad, unless you have a heart condition, which maybe I do after consuming the entire contents of my plate and some of my date’s.
It really is time, with the holidays approaching, for breaking bad. (Apparently my date thought so too, and we are no longer an item.)
I am not suggesting you pick up a chemical trade, like Walter White in the hit show which derived its name from my column. I am simply pointing out there are healthy food options that hit the guilty pleasure button. I really don’t think it is any mere coincidence acorn squash is in season just prior to and during the holidays.
Here is a vegetable that falls straight into the sweet category but delivers more than just empty calories. In fact, one cup of this yellow squash has only 36 calories and seven carbohydrates. Plus it is packed with vitamins C and A, potassium, magnesium and fiber.
It is such a painless and enjoyable way to break bad you might find yourself giving friends Christmas tins full of acorn squash in lieu of candy this year. Break bad — try it, you’ll like it.
Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup chopped mixed dried fruit and nuts (I like to use dried dates and cherries and pecans)
1 large pear or Granny Smith apple peeled, cored, chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half width-wise, directly across its middle (it’s prettier this way. Like a big orange star.)
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each squash half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife.
Place squash, cut side down, in a large baking pan or dish; pour water into bottom of pan around the squash. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, fruit and nut mixture, and thinly sliced apple or pear.
Divide mixture evenly among partially cooked squash, filling the cavities, and return to oven for 45 minutes or until tender when flesh is easily poked with a fork.
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at firstname.lastname@example.org.