Makes 8 servings
4 acorn squashes
Wild rice stuffing (see recipe below)
1. Cook the acorn squash according to your preferred method. I cook them individually in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker by placing them on the rack with water up to the rack and cook them on high pressure for 10 minutes with a 10-minute natural pressure release.
2. Cut in half and remove seeds and set aside. You could also cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and roast them in a preheated 400-degree F oven on a nonstick silicone baking mat, cut side down, for about an hour.
3. Stuff each squash with the wild rice stuffing, (recipe follows) making a rounded mound over the top. Bake in a preheated 400-degree F oven for 30 minutes until rice starts to get a bit crunchy. If there is any filling leftover, place it in a baking dish and bake it at the same time as the squash.
4. Remove the squashes from the oven and drizzle each one with reduced balsamic vinegar. Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve and Bema and Pa’s Pumpkin Pie Spice infused are good choices. Serve with CranPEARy relish.
Apple, Cherry and Wild Rice Stuffing
1 cup of finely chopped onion
1 cup of finely chopped celery
1 cup of finely chopped carrots
1 cup of finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
3 cups of cooked wild rice
2 cups of grated apple (I prefer Gala or Envy)
1 cup halved unsweetened, unsulfured dried cherries (see note below)
1. Water sauté the onions, celery and carrots until onion is translucent and the carrots are soft. Depending on how small you chop them, this could take 15-20 minutes.
2. Stir in the grated apple and poultry seasoning and cook for another minute or two. Add the parsley, dried cherries and cooked wild rice and stir until well combined.
Notes: You can buy celery, onion and carrot together already cut up at many stores such as Trader Joes. It is called Mirepoix. My original recipe called for 1 cup of dried, dark sweet cherries, unsweetened and unsulfured (cut in half if large). Trader Joes sells these in 6 ounce bags. If the occasional use of dried fruit is not a trigger for you, or if you are making this recipe for others people, feel free to add it. If you are not at your goal weight, please remember that dried food is still calorically dense, approximately 1,300 calories per pound.
Chef AJ has been devoted to a plant-based diet for almost 40 years, and is proud to say that her IQ is higher than her cholesterol. She is the host of the television series Healthy Living with Chef AJ, which airs on Foody TV, and also hosts a weekly podcast of the same name. As a comedienne as well as a chef, she has made appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Late Show with David Letterman. She is the author of the popular books The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss: A Revolutionary Approach to Conquer Cravings, Overcome Food Addiction and Lose Weight Without Going Hungry, and Unprocessed, the co-producer of Healthy Taste of L.A., and the creator of the Ultimate Weight Loss Program, which has helped hundreds of people achieve the health and body they deserve. Chef AJ was also the executive pastry chef at Santé Restaurant in Los Angeles, where she was famous for her sugar-, oil-, salt- and gluten-free desserts, which used the fruit, the whole fruit, and nothing but the whole fruit. Chef AJ holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell University and is a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.