Apple stuffed acorn squash and lemony kale salad

Hi everyone and happy Tuesday!  I had a low-key weekend filled with family time, yoga, Thai food (the BEST I’ve ever had at The Green Elephant in Portland, Maine), movies and homemade pizza… some much-needed relax time.  And I was lucky enough to work from home yesterday (second best to actually having the day off), so I could catch up on some important work stuff, and also laundry.  😉

For food highlights, I have a delicious apple stuffed squash for you.  The recipe is reminiscent of my Mom’s Waldorf salad.. since I’m not a mayonnaise gal, I’ve actually never eaten it (yes Mom, it’s true, all those years at Thanksgiving, never tried it), BUT I can tell just by looking that it’s tasty!  And other people love it.  I digress….. anyway, I must have been channeling Waldorf in the kitchen when this one was hatched.

squash ingredients

Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

You know what they say about ‘good things’ and ‘waiting,’ right?  Well, this is one of those recipes… it’s not difficult, you’re just going to need to give the squash some quality time in the oven.  Great news, this is a perfect make-ahead candidate… the stuffed squash will keep just fine in the fridge.  Think about it: home from work, pop food in the oven… by the time you’ve unwound from your day… a hot ‘weekend’ dinner on a weeknight!

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 apples, I used organic fuji, but whatever you like will be great
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion
  • 1 tiny piece of ginger, zested about 1/4 tsp
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (the good ones, without added sugar)
  • 2 Tbs chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsely, minced
  • olive oil and black pepper

Chop and combine apples, onion, celery.  I left the apple skin on.  Stir in cranberries and pecans.  Add black pepper to taste.  I used several cracks of pepper but no added salt, you really don’t need it!  The chopped filling smelled so fresh and tasty, I almost grabbed a fork and stopped there.

squash filling chopped

Carefully cut the squash in half.  The squash are pretty hard so I lodge the knife as far as I can, then use the ‘splitting wood’ method.  Scrape the insides out and save the seeds.  I love roasted seeds and always cook mine when making squash… I throw them on a piece of aluminum foil with some salt and pepper and roast while the squash is cooking.

Lightly oil a baking dish.  Stuff the squash halves and place in the dish.  If you have extra stuffing, just throw it in the dish.


Cover and roast at 450F until soft, approx 50 minutes.

While these are roasting, you can prep your salad… I made a kale salad with lemony tahini dressing and roasted brussels sprouts.  I really love the addition of hot food on top of my green salads… especially in the winter.

stuffed squash

Lemon Tahini Kale Salad

I’m going to explain this recipe two ways, so I will try to keep it straightforward… I made the basic salad with dinner, then bulked up the leftovers with extra toppings for lunch the next day.  The add-ons gave the salad some protein and lasting power, making it more main-course worthy.

  • 1 head curly kale
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts (approx)
  • Lemon Tahini Dressing: 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 1Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs tahini, 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, pepper

Thoroughly wash kale and tear into bite sized pieces, skipping any really thick stems.  Combine dressing ingredients and mix with the kale and carrot to coat well.  The vinegar will begin to soften the kale a bit… in fact, the longer this salad sits, the better it tastes!  Kale won’t go limp like regular lettuce can.

Slice brussels sprouts in half and spread on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Roast the brussels sprouts at 450F for 20 minutes.  If you’ve never roasted sprouts, it’s absolutely the best way to cook them… they get a little sweet with nice crispy edges, soooo good!  In fact, roasting is my very favorite way to cook any vegetables!

Top the kale salad with roasted brussels sprouts and squash seeds.  This makes a perfect side dish… OR, as a meal…

  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup dressed kale salad
  • leftover roasted brussels sprouts
  • chopped red bell pepper
  • marinated white beans
  • roasted squash seeds

Marinated beans are a new favorite of mine… I’ll whip them up and leave them in the fridge to add to salads or wraps.  Simply soak any type of beans (I’ve been loving the large white beans) in a combo of 2T apple cider vinegar, 1T olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.

Between the marinated kale and beans, you totally don’t need extra dressing.  If you are really feeling the need for a flavor burst, you could always whip up a little extra lemon tahini.  I love how fresh and crunchy and brightly colored this salad is!  And I always forget how yummy cabbage is until I eat it.

pumped up kale salad

In other news, today is day 5 of the 30 day green smoothie challenge that Jonathan and I are doing with Young and Raw.  So far, it’s been a success.  We’ve had a new green smoothie every day and are both totally LOVING the experience.  I’m a big smoothie fan, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut… so it’s lovely to have a supply of new recipes and creative new combinations.  It’s too late to join this month’s challenge, but if you follow them on facebook, they post lots of great smoothie and other raw recipes.

That’s all for now friends!  I am experimenting with homemade granola bars… so with any luck, I’ll be back with a healthy treat soon.

xox, Kristen


Heart Health, Valentine’s Day… and Chocolate Truffles

Wouldn’t it be great if heart health was as easy as having some laughs with friends, indulging in certain high-fat foods, savoring dark chocolate, and sleeping more?  Well, great news guys!!  All of these things are great for your heart health and general well-being… and now there is actual ‘data’ to back up what our intuition already knew.

We may be complex beings, but it’s all connected…

Indulging in some delicious foods… and I’m not talking about snarfing down an entire pizza (although sometimes those things happen)… I mean truly enjoying and savoring your favorite treat.  Doesn’t that make you feel good?  And how about sleep?  A good night’s sleep helps our immune system, metabolism, memory, learning and more… plus, after a restful night, I feel ready to take on the world!  And, who could argue that laughs with friends is anything but awesome.  Laughter totally zaps stress… and if you get rolling like my friends and I do, laughter can even equal an ab workout.   😉

So, it turns out, staying healthy can actually be pretty easy… and fun!

Oh, and CHOCOLATE… don’t worry, I didn’t forget that one.  Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and even vitamins and minerals.  It can lower blood pressure, improve cognitive function, and create a positive mood.  And most importantly, it’s delicious.

With no further delay, a tasty chocolate treat….

Chocolate Cherry Truffles

These little bites are not only delicious but they are sweetened with fruit and devoid of refined sugar, plus they contain heart-healthy dark chocolate and Omega 3’s… so you don’t have to feel bad about indulging!  Savor away friends  🙂

  • 1 cup unsweetened dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened coconut flakes, plus more for rolling
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder (raw cacao is great here if you have it)
  • 1Tbs almond milk (you just need a dash of liquid to hold it together, if you don’t have almond milk, water or orange juice would work)
  • teeniest little dash of salt

Finely chop the cherries, dates, walnuts and chocolate.  I went old-school and hand chopped, but a food processor would probably work too.  Add remaining ingredients and mix by hand to form a dough.  Roll into small balls… the recipe will make about a dozen.  Roll the truffles in coconut.  Store these little delights in the fridge (unless you keep your house really cold like I do… or if you eat them all…)

chocolate cherry truffles

So, while you savoring your homemade truffles… I have a little activity for you, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

Ayurveda teaches that unconditional love is, in fact, our true nature.  So, let’s check that out.  Think of a person that you really love… a friend, spouse, family member, anyone… now grab a piece of paper and write down all of the things you love, appreciate and respect about that person.  This is for your eyes only, so really go for it!

As you write this list, observe how you feel.  You may notice that you feel loved, appreciated, important, respected, cared for… and here’s the little trick that our minds play on us: all of these things, which we think we need from someone else, we actually experience all by ourselves when we give love freely.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

xox  Kristen

Yogalates and an Asian rice bowl

Hi friends!  I hope everyone is having a great week… I am having an extra-awesome week because I am not working!  Well, back to the office tomorrow, but let’s not think about that today 😉

Yesterday I spent the day around the house.  I reorganized the walk-in closet to make room for Jonathan’s clothes.  I mean, we’ve only lived there 5 months, so it seemed like it was time.  I have never, ever shared a closet in my life… so far, nothing catastrophic has happened.  And Jonathan was so happy to see his clothes hanging neatly when he got home, so it was a win.

Today, I’m enjoying some quality me-time.  This morning I tried a new class!  My friend Vanessa teaches Yogalates at Coastal Fitness in Kittery.  I am always working on Wednesdays, so I was really psyched to be able to attend her class.  As the name cleverly suggests, it is a fusion of Pilates and yoga… it was a pretty killer ab workout, which felt great (I can safely say that now that it’s done).  And Vanessa had some new-to-me moves the I look forward to adding to my repertoire… one huge perk of checking out new instructors.

In food-news, I’m excited to share this recipe with you all.  A yummy little Asian-inspired creation…

Asian Brown Rice Bowl

This one is quick and easy… and delicious, a great combination!  I’m a big ‘grab what’s in the fridge’ person, so feel free to substitute whatever veggies you have on hand… I promise, you can’t go wrong.  Serves 3.

  • 1/2 large beet
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • large handful of kale
  • brown rice
  • Sauce: 1T rice vinegar, 2T Bragg’s (or soy sauce), 2T almond butter, 1T olive oil, 1 small clove garlic, small piece of ginger (about the size of a garlic clove), 3T water to thin
  • Toppings: scallions, chopped almonds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast (all are optional), or whatever sounds good!

Cook the rice… I have failed at cooking rice many times.  I have had friends tease me because cooking rice is supposed to be so simple.  Out of nowhere, it suddenly became easy and has since always worked out.  In case you aren’t yet a rice-pro, here’s the deal: bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil, add 1/2 cup rice, cover, turn down and simmer about 40 mins or until all of the water is absorbed (I like to double this so I have rice to use later in the week).

Chop all the veggies, except the kale… I was hungry and hoping to speed things up, so I cut them into small 1/2-inch cubes.

Roast veggies at 450F until soft, about 20 mins for small-cut.  Rip the kale into bite-sized pieces and add on top of the roasted veggies.  Cover with foil or a lid to wilt the kale.

Prep the sauce… if you have a food processor or blender, that works really well to mince the garlic and ginger and incorporate all the flavors.

To assemble, scoop rice into a bowl, add veggies, sauce and toppings.  Yum!

asian bowl

Okay friends, I’m off to work on another little house project.  Have a great day!!

xox, Kristen

Surviving the blizzard

Hi friends.  It’s official… a weekend away is the BEST way to survive a snowstorm!!  Jonathan and I had already planned a weekend getaway, so we got on the road early on Friday and arrived at our destination before the storm really hit.  In fact, we arrived early enough to explore North Conway.

We had a late lunch at a great little spot called the Stairway Cafe.  I loved the eclectic vibe… they used dishclothes as napkins and served milk in a little glass bottle.  So cute!  And the fruit with house-made granola was refreshing and delicious!

stairway fruit and granolaLuckily we only saw ONE bear the whole weekend…

bear!… at Zeb’s Country Store in town.  They had the largest selection of local treasures.  I resisted the million-things-sugar but did pick up some lavender bath salts. (did I mention our room had an oversized soaking tub?)

We were back to the Inn, just as the snow really picked up.  We kept warm as best as we could…

woodstove feetsWe also camped out in front of the huge fireplace and played cribbage… three-zero (I’ll let you all guess who won)  😉


That night we enjoyed dinner in.  Dinner was superb and the snowy view from the tavern window was beautiful.  (we were glad to be staying toasty inside)

snow out the window

On Saturday, we adventured out on our snow shoes!!  The snow was light and fluffy.  We opted for the path less traveled 😉

fresh snowy woods

We were the first to lay tracks!!  The woods were gorgeous and we both got a killer workout.  Turns out knee-deep powder = intense shoeing!!

snowshoe headshotThere we are!  We also took a ride to Cathedral Ledge… breathtaking!  But we’ll have to wait for the snow to melt to hike that one!  We did make it pretty far ‘offroading’ in the Subaru 😉

cathedral ledge winterAfter our adventure, we decided some sweets were in order.  I had the MOST delicious Mexican hot chocolate with at McKaella’s Sweet Shop.  No surprise, Jonathan had peanut butter hot chocolate.  And we further indulged with cookies…. and a cupcake.

sweets!!That night we had dinner at a really great restaurant called Thompson House Eatery in Jackson, NH.  We started with a creative appetizer called Zorba the Grape!  It was like a Greek antipasta and included ALL of my favorites: local herbed goat cheese wrapped in a grape leaf, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, roasted onions, a mint and olive tapenade (sounds weird, but was awesome), marinated greek beans, grapes and toasted bread.  Like I said… everything delicious on one plate!

zorba the grape!!

From there, I had their Fungus Among Us… mushroom ravioli with spinach and roasted tomatoes, and Jonathan had a 14oz sirloin with squash and broccolini.  We both loved our meals!

Our last morning at the Darby Field Inn, the storm had fully blown out and we were able to appreciate the mountain view over breakfast.

darby field inn mt view

A great weekend!!  We returned home to two feet of snow. (sadly, it did not melt while we were off having fun)  It was overwhelming, but Jonathan powered through it with the new snow blower.  In fact, he blew the whole driveway and a path out to the garage… then he got part of the road and did a walkway out back.  He loves his new toy!  😉  And I shoveled the walkway.  And made lunch.  After our weekend of indulgent eating, we were both dying for a nice big plate of green!  And there were some sad looking fruits and veggies in the fridge to use:


Voila, greens with mango, apple, cranberries, figs, pecans, celery and fresh raspberry vinagrette.  Now we are off to enjoy the last of the sunshine and get ready for the week.  I will be attempting a new dinner, so just may be back with a recipe if things go well.

xox!  Kristen

Summer Lovin’

Hi everyone!  There is a HUGE snowstorm rolling in up here… seriously, people are using words like ‘snowmageddon,’ which sounds a little over-the-top to me!  What I can say is that all of this chilly weather has me dreaming about summer and lounging in the sun.  So, on that note, I’m here to share this great smoothie recipe, reminiscent of a summer day at the beach.

Banana Dream Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup coconut almond milk
  • 2 Tbs almond butter (of course, I use the homemade variety)
  • dash cinnamon
  • small chunk of ginger, peeled
  • scoop protein powder (optional)

banana dream smoothie

I picked up some unsweetened almond coconut milk, which really gives this smoothie that beachy taste… but it would also be great with regular almond milk or dairy milk.  If you are wondering what you will do with the rest of the almond coconut milk, trust me, it’s delicious.  It’s great on oatmeal, or in cereal, or in a recipe, like coffee cake.  I’ve also been all about adding a little nib of ginger in my smoothies… the ginger gives you a magical warm feeling in your belly… it is, afterall, still winter!  😉

This recipe also calls for protein powder, although it is totally optional.  If I’m drinking up for breakfast, I usually add the protein for a little more lasting power.  I really like unsweetened vanilla brown rice powder.  My favorite new-to-me brand is Sunwarrior… I sent them an email asking to sample their product at and they sent me a BUNCH of free samples!  Yay, for free stuff!

sunwarriorPretty cool, right?  Oh, and while on the topic of smoothies… Jonathan and I just signed up for a 30 day smoothie challenge.  It’s not a fast (believe me, I am not up for 30 days of smoothies-only in February!).  The goal of the challenge is to add one healthy smoothie to your usual daily food.  I’m also looking forward to some new smoothie ideas!!  Check it out!  Free 30 Day Smoothie Challenge with Young and Raw.

Okay friends, I am off to play in the snow!  And I’m super excited about it (as are my snowshoes!)  Stay safe out there!

xox  Kristen

Birthday Brunch… Success!

Hi everyone!  I hope you are all enjoying the weekend!

Jonathan’s family came up celebrate his mom’s birthday.  Sometimes the logistics of putting out a big meal can be challenging, so I thought it would be helpful to share my brunch strategy.  😉

Here’s the goal: vegetable frittata, roasted sweet potatoes, green salad, veggie sausage, coffee cake and green smoothies.  And here’s how it went…

8:30 am, wake up… remember I’m missing a few ingredients… shoot out to the grocery store.

9:30… okay, ready to start for real!  Guests arriving in two hours.  Preheat the oven, game on.  First order of business is the cake, because it goes together quickly and will need time to cool.  10:00… sautee veggies and prepare the frittata… this cooks at the same temp, so it can share the oven if you’re ready to roll before the cake is done.  The frittata can also sit at room temp a while, so it’s up next!

10:30 – rejoice that I am ahead of schedule and break for tea.  I’ve been all about the ‘I Love Lemon’ tea lately!  Yum!

10:45am – chop sweet potatoes, bump up the oven temp and toss those in.  (I leave the skin on, toss with olive oil and salt and roast at 450F for 25-30 mins, the key is to leave space between the potatoes so they get crispy)  Make salad.  Cut and plate the cake.  Oops, just remembered that I wanted to serve veggie sausage… luckily this is quick… turn off the oven and keep potatoes in to stay warm.  Return frittata to the oven to warm.  Sautee sausages.  Whip up smoothies… and voila, we’re ready to serve!!

tanya's bday brunch

Everything came out delicious.  I love cooking for people and especially love showing friends and family that healthy eats can be so tasty!!

Vegetable Frittata

I’ve always been intimidated by frittata… the traditional stovetop skillet/finish in the oven sounds scary… but this is a super easy recipe.  No skillet required, it cooks exactly like a quiche, minus the crust.  This recipe is also very adaptable, feel free to use whatever veggies you like or have on hand.  And I like my frittata chock full of veggies. 😉

  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, thin sliced
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • oregano, thyme, cayenne, black pepper, turmeric

Sautee the mushrooms, onions and zucchini in 1 Tbs olive oil until soft, 10-15 mins.  Add spinach to wilt.  Lightly oil a deep pie plate.  Add sautéed veggies and red peppers.  Whisk eggs and whites… there’s nothing wrong with a few whole eggs now and then.  Especially if you get the farm fresh one’s from my friend Shelly over at Burnt Swamp Farm!!  But, I do like to mix it up with some egg whites to keep the cholesterol low.  I add a little shake of turmeric to give the egg whites that familiar yellow hue.  Plus turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and a natural healer, so it’s great to sneak it in where you can.

Add egg mixture right on top of the veggies.  Sprinkle with spices to taste.  I used about 1/4tsp each of oregano and thyme, a teeny dash of cayenne and several cracks of black pepper.  Cook 45mins at 350F.  The top will be firm when cooked.  Frittata is great for brunch because it’s equally great hot out of the oven or at room temperature.

fritataYum!!  Can you see the steam rising?  With all the veggies, this gives a nice hearty slice.  Serves 6.

This frittata is great with a green salad: baby greens, chopped apple, pecans, celery, dressed with olive oil and balsamic.

Raspberry Pecan Coffee Cake

Since I made this for a birthday brunch, I dressed it up with some carob chips.  Carob is vegan and tastes similar to chocolate, and carob chips have no added sugar.  If you don’t like or don’t have carob, some dark chocolate chips would also be delicious in this recipe.  I also used a combination of flours… spelt flour does contain gluten, but some people with allergies are able to tolerate spelt.  You could substitute with whole wheat flour, but will need a bit less, about 1 1/2 cups to replace the spelt, or 2 cups to replace both flours.


  • 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (purchase or make your own by blending oats)
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, dash salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (can sub with dairy milk)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup neutral flavored oil
  • 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries (or more raspberries)
  • 2 Tbs carob chips


  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbs oil, 1 Tbs cinnamon, 1 Tbs maple syrup, 3 Tbs carob chips

Combine all dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients and add to dry.  Mix until incorporated.  Lightly oil an 8×8 glass dish.  Scoop about 2/3 of the batter into the dish.  Spread fruit over the batter and sprinkle with 2T carob chips.  I like to break up the raspberries, which is really easy to do if you are using frozen berries.

coffee cake in progressDot remaining batter over the fruit.  Combine ingredients for topping and sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 350F for 35-40 mins or until the center is set.

coffee cake

This cake was delicious enough to serve as a ‘birthday’ cake, but not overly sweet, so it still works for brunch.  With rave reviews, the brunch was rated a success!!

And I’d like to share some other important news…

Jonathan tried his very first yoga class this morning at my home studio, Zev Yoga in Portsmouth… and HE LOVED IT!!!!  I am so excited and happy to share my passion.  A new yogi is born!  🙂 🙂

xox, Kristen

Banana bread breakfast cookies and my favorite almond butter

Good morning and happy Friday everyone!!  I’m here with an exciting post. Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy cookies for breakfast every now and again?  Well, great news, these cookies are delicious AND good for you… more like a healthy little muffin masquerading as a cookie.  Plus, these cookies are inspired by one of my favorite treats… banana bread!!  Mmmmm……

Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies

  • 1 generous cup of mashed banana, approx 2 1/2 bananas
  • 1 cup thick cut oats (you can use the quick cook kind, but I much prefer the texture of the thick cut oats in this recipe)
  • 1 cup oat flour (super easy to make, just toss some oats in the blender, or sub whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice, dash clove
  • 1 Tbs neutral flavored oil (like coconut or canola)
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup (the real stuff, seriously it’s much better)
  • 2 Tbs almond milk (can use regular milk or another non-dairy)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Okay, this is an easy one… I just combine the ingredients in the listed order.  Be sure to thoroughly mash the bananas.  To toast walnuts, simply toss them in a 350F degree oven for 10ish minutes.  It’s an extra step, but toasting the nuts really boosts their flavor!

Scoop large spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Makes 12-14 cookies.  Cook at 350F for 14-15 minutes.  Let cool, if you can wait a few minutes!  These are totally delicious right out of the oven and also pack well.  They are the most amazing topped with almond butter!

bfast cookies

Maple Almond Butter  (you didn’t think I was going to leave you hanging with a mere mention of almond butter, did you?)  😉

  • 1 bag whole almonds (10 oz)
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • few dashes of salt and cinnamon

I cut a little slit in the almond bag and add the oil and maple syrup right in and swish around.  Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cook at 300F for 20 mins.


The toasty almonds are really tasty at this stage… in case you were wondering.  I use my Vitamix for this part, but a food processor works too.  Simply toss the almonds into the blender and add enough oil to keep everything moving around.  I use about 1/4 cup.  I’ve tried to make it without the oil… it can be done, but it’s a lot of sticking and hard stirring.  The great part is that any excess oil separates from the finished product and you can just pour it off.

almond butter

Mmmm… almond butter, a favorite at my house.  In fact, I have a little confession… this particular batch of almond butter was whipped up because I ate ALL the almond butter Jonathan got in Burlington.  Luckily, homemade almond butter rocks, so I’m pretty sure he forgives me!  😉

Have a most excellent Friday!!  Here’s a little photo to start your day off right… I was up early for yoga and caught this on the ride home 🙂

xox, Kristen

sunrise Feb1