On a recent evening I found time to do something I hadn’t had time to do in months – flip on the television. To be more precise, I tuned into one of the more mainstream food channels. The show, “Man vs. Food” celebrated extreme eating and focused on the host sourcing and devouring, often with frightening (and nauseating) speed, the most fattening, calorie-dense, processed foods on the planet. If the producers’ goal was to demonstrate virtually everything wrong with our society’s relationship with food in less then thirty minutes, they did a fine job.
I was fortunate to learn years ago that a more natural diet would improve my own life and that of my family. Not only would we be more balanced and energetic, but we would be able to fend of illness and disease much more effectively. The rash of symptoms and illnesses we’re seeing-everything from weight gain, lethargy, and mood disorders to the most common killers, such as cancer and heart disease-is the surest indication that the old health standbys of allopathic medicine and restrictive dietary labels such as “low-cholesterol,” “low-carb,” “low-fat,” and “sugar free,” are falling short of their promises. At a time when our environment and food supplies have become perilously denatured, what we need is to broaden our minds, reconnect with our roots (literally and figuratively), and redraw the dietary map.
In the wintertime eating healthy can be more challenging then in the warmer months. At the end of a long day our bodies crave something warm and hearty, and cooked dishes are much more satisfying than salads and other cold fare. I hope you will see the following recipe as a guide to help you develop your own palate based on your personal health needs and specific food preferences. But keep in mind that simplicity is the key; don’t overdo it. To slave away in the kitchen is no longer required. As a matter of fact, cleaning up should be a breeze, since prepping fresh produce and cooking with minimal oils hardly makes a mess. Feel free to tweak and substitute ingredients as desired, as long as the flavor profile stays balanced. Cooking is an organic (no pun intended!), personal experience, and there are no steadfast rules.
You won’t miss the oil, meat or dairy one bit in this dish, and you will see that nutritious can be both easy and delicious. So here is a healthy and hearty recipe to help kick off your own creative inspirations; to start off the new you and the new year!
Yield: 6 servings
6 – 8 or 10-inch tortillas (use whole wheat, sprouted wheat, corn or any tortilla you like)
1 acorn squash
1 cup dry white beans (cannellini or Great Northern)
1 jalapeño, minced
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 large yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
salt, to taste
pickled jalapeños (optional, to serve)
1 bunch scallions, diced
1 cup shredded mexican or monterey jack cheese and sour cream to garnish (optional, to serve)
Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Cut the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds. In a roasting pan place both halves, cut side down, and roast for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove and let cool slightly before scooping out the squash, discarding the skin, and dicing into large chunks. Add 1/2 tbsp salt and toss. Set aside.
Cook the beans and diced jalapeños in boiling water (about 2 hours) or a pressure cooker (40mins) until soft. Drain the water and add 1 tsp salt, cumin and chili powder. Toss and cook for an additional 5 minutes to let flavors incorporate.
For the creamy guacamole: In a food processor, add the avocados, lime juice (reserving 1 tbsp for later), 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 tsp salt. Process until you get a smooth and creamy texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
For the pico de gallo: Add together the chopped tomatoes, red onion, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 tbsp lime juice and 1/2 tsp salt. Toss to combine. Set aside.
To assemble: Place the tortillas in a dry (no oil) stainless steel skillet over medium heat and cook them for about 30 seconds on each side. Lay flat and spread on the creamy guacamole. Next, in order, add the squash, white beans, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños (optional), and scallions. Wrap the burrito and enjoy with a side of spanish rice.