Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Food Tuesday: Butternut Squash "Risotto"

I've been on a super clean eating plan over the past few weeks. It was one of my goals in kicking off the year. The exercise hasn't been going as well as I'd have liked (I've been a stranger to the gym) but I am getting in some at home routines. I'm proud of myself for hanging in and I've gotten some positive results in terms of weight loss (I'll take 4 pounds).

All of that shiny happiness aside, I confess to missing ooey, gooey comfort food especially when it is 9 degrees outside. It was that feeling that made me desperately look around my kitchen for a way to fake it. I settled on fake risotto. To make it, I cooked red quinoa, which I'm obsessed with these days, and tossed it with leftover brown rice. Then, I added butternut squash puree and kept adding it a little at a time until I was happy with the creamy consistency I was craving (it ended up being about 2/3 cup). I spiced it up with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little turmeric. It was almost there but something was missing. I finally decided it needed a little brightness so I added lemon. Then, I finished it with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar. It added the hint of sweetness that I'm used to with butternut squash soup or bisque. I garnished with parsley and sesame seeds.

It's not the wine or veggie stock soaked variety I love but you know what? It did the trick by satisfying my cravings, filling me up (I was STUFFED) and leaving me no worse for the wear in terms of my clean eating goals. AND, it was delicious.

The whole experiment made me want to develop more ideas for using butternut squash. In the past, I've used it on pizza, in stews, and certainly in soup. What's next? Sauce for zucchini noodles? Butternut squash curry? Mushroom or lentil and butternut squash veggie burgers? The possibilities are swimming around my head but don't worry. I am not going to turn this into a Bubba Gump moment and start posting butternut squash dishes every week. Ok, I'm done saying butternut.

What "cheater" recipes do you use to trick yourself when you're craving your high fat, high calorie faves? Leave links and recipes in the comments! 

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