I have recently been working on what I am calling a "diet makeover." I'm not on a diet to lose weight, I'm on a diet to change my lifestyle to reflect healthy eating and healthy living. For those of you that do not know me personally, I have been a vegetarian for over 7 years. And I have been a horrible vegetarian for most of the time. Think lots of boxed mac and cheese, frozen pizza, tacos and lots and lots of cookies. You read that correctly.
I gave up meat years ago and remain a vegetarian for ethical reasons, though the more I learn about the meat industry, its effect on our planet and on our bodies, I'm so thankful for my choices. Due to personal health issues, I decided to do a lot more research about what I am putting into my body. And I learned that I was putting a lot of junk into it.
And so began my new love of real food and closer to a vegan diet.
But let's be real here. I still love
cookies. And pretty much anything that will satisfy my sweet tooth. And so I made these Blueberry Coconut cookies! I used the recipe from Kumquat's Blueberry Coconut Pecan Breakfast Cookies
. I modified a couple of things based on what I had stocked in my pantry. I substituted 2 bananas for a cup of mixed berry applesauce, the pecans for almonds and thew in a tablespoon of chia seeds (because those things are amazing.) They are the perfect way to satisfy my sweet tooth and get some actual nutrients from a cookie!
Have you ever visited Spark Recipes
? It's my new favorite recipe site. Every recipe comes with nutritional information and you can easily search with diet restrictions (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, etc.) It think it's pretty great.
I stumbled upon a recipe for Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
. Though, desperate to find a recipe to try out quinoa, I adjusted this slightly to make a delicious cheesy, butternut squash quinoa bake.
2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash (I used 3 very small squashes, you could probably get this out of one big one)
1 cup veggie broth
1 1/2 cups milk (I used plain soy milk, since that is what I keep on hand)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (plus a little extra for topping)
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cooked cups quinoa
1. Cook quinoa according to directions
2. Put squash, broth and milk in a pot. Bring to a boil and let cook until squash is tender. ( I really don't remember how long this took, but just keep poking the squash with a fork to check.)
3. Pour out most liquid into separate dish. Puree squash and about 1/4 cup of liquid until desired consistency. You can also just mash up the squash if you like chunkier textures.
4. Mix all ingredients together (Quinoa, squash puree, remaining liquid, cheese and spices)
5. Pour into medium sized casserole dish and top with extra cheese (I used extra cheddar and a little Parmesan.)
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes and enjoy!