7 Ways to Increase Your Child’s Vegetable Consumption

How to go from “yuck” to “yummm.”

The struggle is real.
Are you like most parents (and by most we mean nearly all) battling to get your child to eat those nutritious veggies each day? Or at the very least take a few bites? Sure, there’s the age old “you can’t have dessert until you finish your broccoli… ” bribe. And sure, a bribe may work to some degree, but what if you actually want your child to actually enjoy nutritious foods?

Why the big deal?
Encouraging healthy eating habits early in life has been a proven way to prevent the onset of diet-related diseases.1 Also, exposure to fruits and vegetables in infancy and toddlerhood have been associated with acceptance of these foods as they grow older.2

At BootCampSF, we’ve been researching ways to help parents build their child’s love for veggies, and here are some ideas for you:

1. Believe in butter
Babies are born with a preference for sweet and salty taste.3 This predisposition means sweet and salty foods are much more likely to being accepted by infants compared to bitter flavored foods — such as certain vegetables. So what does this mean for you? You will be more successful in the long run if you disguise rather than bribe.
To help your kid get passed his sensitivity to bitter foods, consider masking that bitterness with butter. Yes, we said “butter,” and more specifically the grass-fed variety which contains vitamins A, E, and D3. These vitamins are important to a growing child, plus the added fat helps their bodies absorb them.4 Try adding 1 tablespoon of butter per half cup of broccoli, green beans, mashed sweet potatoes, etc.

2. Go fresh food shopping together
Teach healthy eating choices by letting your kid help you select the fresh produce. Try making a game out of selecting different colors of fruits and vegetables. Also, a visit to your local farmers’ market can be lots of fun. Not only will you be teaching your child how to select high quality produce, you’ll be more successful come dinnertime when serving the foods you discovered together.

3. Let him be your sous chef
Even younger children can help in the kitchen. Of course, we don’t mean chopping vegetables, but instead let them try simple tasks like tearing the lettuce for a salad, stirring the pot, or measuring ingredients. As with the food shopping, you’re creating a sense of ownership with their food which is a proven technique for encouraging healthy eating.5

4. Grow your own
Research shows children have a more positive attitudes toward vegetables after gardening.6 This should come as no surprise since freshly picked vegetables are so much tastier than those sitting on the grocery store shelves. If you don’t have the means for your own garden, then take a visit to a vegetable farm where your child can pick her own. Growing or picking your own foods ties back into the sense of ownership discussed above.
Healthy Eating for Kids

5. The secret is in the smoothie
Pureeing vegetables is possibly the easiest way to getting kids to consume more fresh foods. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that children ages three to five nearly doubled their consumption of vegetables on days when they were served pureed vegetables instead of whole.7 An ideas for creating a nutrient dense smoothie includes blending: half a cup of spinach, half an avocado, half of a small banana, ¼ cup canned pumpkin, and ½ cup of either almond milk or water.8

6. Create a copycat
Invite a friend over for dinner who you know has healthy eating habits, or send your kid to the older cousin’s house who loves his spinach. The peer pressure of watching the other kids devour their vegetables might provoke yours to give them a taste at the very least.

7. Set a Good Example
No doubt, you already know this one. Yet, knowing what you should do doesn’t always mean it’s easy to do it. For example, you may love Diet Coke. But if you’ve banned drinking sodas for your child, it may be confusing for him to watch you guzzle that Diet Coke during dinner. Also, what is your own relationship with food? Are you trying healthy recipes or complaining about your weight after eating junk food? Bottom line: if you are willing to try new healthy food choices, your kid will be more likely to as well.

In Conclusion
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try creative ways to encourage your child to eat healthily. Though at times it might be frustrating, trying new ways to prepare vegetables and being positive are vital to getting your child to enjoy them… for a lifetime.

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21651929
2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678872/#R35
3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678872/#R27
4) https://www.verywellfamily.com/
5) https://www.eatthis.com/
6) http://gardening.cals.cornell.edu/program-tools/benefits-and-research/key-findings/
7) https://www.sciencedaily.com/
8) https://eatthisnotthat.com

Watermelon: Post Workout Muscle Soreness Prevention

Oftentimes, BootcampSF is a high intensity workout and you may feel the effects a few days after the workout is over. Muscle soreness is common, but with proper rest, recovery and nutrition, it can be eased and sometimes eliminated.

Watermelon is an excellent choice to help relieve muscle soreness due to the high content of the essential amino acid L-citrulline. It is also found in garlic and onions; however, watermelon is our top choice, as the high water and electrolyte content hydrates the body and helps flush out toxins.

“Lactic acid builds up in muscles when intense exercise necessitates energy production faster than oxygen can be delivered” (Riva, 2013). The amino acid L-citrulline is able to remove lactic acid faster than at the normal rate, which means faster recovery time. The amino acid has also been noted to improve blood flow throughout the body, rid the liver of ammonia and other toxins and lower blood pressure.

Watermelon helps replenish glycogen, which is what your body relies on during exercise. “According to a U.S. Sports Academy article by Gregory Tardie, PhD, there is a two-hour window after exercise that is optimal for carbohydrate replenishment, after which glycogen synthesis slows to about 2 percent per hour. However, Tardie suggests that consuming 50 g of carbohydrate every two hours after intense exercise raises the rate of replenishment to 5 percent per hour. Four cups of watermelon contain about 50 g of carbohydrate, perfect for post-exercise glycogen replenishment” (Matte, 2017).

We recommend simply blending watermelon and a bit of ice with a splash of water if needed in a high speed blender to create watermelon juice. Consume within 2 hours post workout to reap the benefits mentioned above.

Sources: https://www.medicaldaily.com/watermelon-juice-amino-acids-could-help-prevent-post-workout-muscle-soreness-248103
https://www.livestrong.com/article/441460-watermelon-after-a-workout/

The benefits of circuit training: torch calories without getting bored

Circuit training, much like we practice in boot camp, is an excellent way to keep your workout interesting while maximizing calorie burn and fat loss. We work outside during our BootcampSF workouts, which gives you the added benefit of soaking up the sun’s rays to boost Vitamin D and put you in a good mood.

There are other important benefits to circuit training; we’re able to achieve intense results in a relatively short amount of time. Our workouts last an hour, which is an optimal amount of time to combine cardio, resistance training and flexibility. You’re able to challenge your entire body during a class, and it’s proven that high-intensity interval training combined with lifting increases metabolism and leaves you with an awesome after burn effect that causes your body to torch calories for hours after the workout has ended.

According to the European Journal of Applied Physiology, circuit training workouts “prompt a higher degree of post-exercise excess oxygen consumption, or EPOC, than traditional cardio workouts. EPOC refers to the metabolic boost your body retains in the hours and days after your workout, and it can be a significant source of additional calorie burn.”

This type of training is also proven to burn more fat by improving insulin sensitivity – this type of training helps keep insulin levels low so that fat can be mobilized and burned.

As with any high intensity workout, post workout nutrition is key to recovery and reaching your fat loss and strength goals. It’s important to consume a source of carbohydrates such as a piece of fruit within 45 minutes of completing your work out. Be sure to replenish with a 3:1 ratio of carbs and protein for ideal muscle repair.

We recommend a super food packed green smoothie as a satisfying post workout meal. The raw cacao is full of antioxidants and may help lower bad cholesterol and decrease inflammation. Try out the recipe below and let us know in the comments what you think:

Post Workout Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients:
2 handfuls spinach and/or kale
½ banana
1 Tbsp. raw almond butter
12 oz. almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
Water as needed
Ice, optional

Directions: Add all ingredients to blender, blend until smooth & enjoy!

Good Mood Foods: Nutrition to Balance Hormones

We all have our ups and our downs, it’s natural. Those days where we feel lost, unmotivated, heavy, and maybe even sad. We are humans after all, and you’re allowed to feel these things. However, while you are going through these occasional downs, there are ways to help your body, and your mind, feel better. By eating natural foods and healthy fats instead of turning to sugar and processed carbohydrates, you’ll begin to feel reenergized in no time, and the list below includes some of the top nutrition powerhouses.

Who doesn’t love an avocado? In guacamole, on toast, on a salad, as a salad dressing, they’re great for all meals! But what you might not know about avocados is that the healthy fat content helps your brain run properly by balancing your hormone levels, ensuring that the correct amount of each is being produced without interference. By including avocado in your diet, you can be sure that you will not only receive the proper amount of fat intake, protein, potassium, and various vitamins, but you will feel better while consuming it.

Raw nuts such as brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews all have high levels of serotonin, which is the feel good chemical in your body known to increase happiness and motivation. So, if you’re feeling down, eat some raw nuts of your choice! Look for the unsalted varieties on the shelf. Also, avoid eating too many as the body utilizes quite a bit of energy to digest them. Enjoy in moderation!

You always hear about the health benefits of leafy greens. Swiss chard is a top pick, as it’s loaded with magnesium. A majority of Americans are magnesium deficient, and it is a nutrient that is responsible for the biochemical reactions in the brain that boost energy levels. It’s best to get on the green bandwagon and start enjoying Swiss chard in salads and smoothies.

Speaking of greens, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts aid the liver in ridding the body of excess estrogen. Throw kale, cabbage and bok choy in the mix and you have a wonderful source of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Last, but definitely not least, is asparagus, which is actually one of the best sources in the plant kingdom for tryptophan, a prime nutrient involved in the creation of serotonin. Which is, of course, that feel good chemical in the body we talked about earlier. By having asparagus in your meal plan for the week, you are indeed increasing your happiness by upping the key nutrients in producing feel good hormones.

It’s always best to keep a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats and carbohydrates in your diet. Remember, the more color you eat the better you will feel!

Meal Plan Like A Pro

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What do you think of when you hear the phrase “meal plan”?

Is it a stack of plastic Tupperware filled with identical meals of chicken and sweet potato? Is it a tattered page out of your notebook with words like “salad” or “oatmeal” on repeat? Is a confusing app on your phone that you downloaded but never use?

Does the whole idea of meal planning make you feel a little bored?

We so get that.

At BCSF, meal planning isn’t a diet scheme or an unbendable set of rules. Rather, it’s a constructive tool to help design a healthy diet. It’s a system put in place to make healthy choices, save time in the kitchen, spend less money at the store and reduce waste.

So, you’re on board?

Great!

Now, let’s make you a pro.

Here are 5 steps to plan your meals like a nutritionist:

#1 Start with dinners: Dinners are the easiest meal to plan in advance. We usually know our favorite go-to meals and are more likely to have the time to cook at home.

Turn it pro: Plan your dinners for making lunch leftovers. All of the dinners you make, make enough for leftovers for lunch the next day. Dishes like soups and stews are easy choices. But even dinners like fish and vegetables can be doubled up too. If you can get in the habit of cooking once and eating twice, you’ll never be tempted by  greasy takeout for lunch again.

#2 Modify recipes: It’s easy to lose interest in meal planning when you feel the pressure to only plan your healthiest meals. I don’t know anyone who wants to eat a salad 3 meals a day. Instead, try to include some of your favorite dishes, but with healthier substitutions. Try zucchini noodles with your favorite pasta sauce, wrap your favorite enchilada ingredients in a collard wrap instead of a tortilla, try a socca pizza crust for your family pizza night. Get creative and choose foods you enjoy.

Turn it pro: You’ve probably heard that you should always “make ½ you plate veggies”. But that can be a hard goal to wrap our heads around. Try re-framing that statement to “make ½ your recipes veggies”. Adding in extra vegetables and leafy greens to your go-to recipes is an easy way to sneak in those daily servings of vegetables.

#3 Don’t forget your PFC!  A balanced diet is made up of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (PFC). While the amount of each of these can change from person to person, we all need all 3 everyday…every meal and every snack.

Turn it pro: If your meal is missing a healthy fat, some go-to favorites are avocado, olives, chia seeds and olive oil! Keep your pantry stocked with these staples and use them to balance your meals and snacks

#4 Plan for snacks: We’ve all been there. It’s in-between meals, you’re starving…so you reach for that pastry or sweet just because it’s what’s around. Instead, plan to have 1-2 different choices for snacks per week, so you don’t have to turn to whatever’s convenient.

Turn it pro: Always have one savory snack and one sweet snack on hand to satisfy your cravings (extra points if you make your snacks meet the PFC rule too!)

#5 Add a to-do: Putting it on paper is one thing, it’s a whole separate task to make it happen. At the bottom of your planner or on a separate piece of paper, make a list of everything that you need to do to in advance to prep your snacks and meals. Do you need to set aside a couple hours on Sunday to batch cook? Do you need to chop vegetables for Wednesday dinner that morning since you get home late that day?

Remember: meal planning doesn’t have to feel like a drag. Be flexible about it. At the end of the day eating a healthy meal is something we will never regret.

Now it’s your turn. We challenge you to take the next 5-10 minutes to jot down your meal plan for the next 5 days. 

P.S. We’re in love with this meal planning notepad!

Healthy Dinner’s Your Kids Will Love

 

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One of the more common challenges we hear about when trying to eat well is managing picky eaters. It can be difficult when you’re trying to stick to your healthy foods, but all your kids will eat is warm, buttery pasta.

Instead of trying to either make two meals (salmon and Brussels for you, pasta for the kids) or only eating what your kids will eat (frozen pizza for all), try meeting in the middle. With these healthy, yet kid friendly recipes, you can enjoy dinner as a family.

Here are our top 10 family friendly dinner recipes:

  1. The Ultimate Better-For-You Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese: Skip the butter and orange powder in this plant based comfort food dish you kids will love. Pair with a veggie or salad and a protein like roast chicken for a complete meal.
  2. Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup: Top this slow cooker recipe with a dollop of Greek yogurt and avocado and you’ve got  hearty dish you can all enjoy.
  3. Turkey Sloppy Joes Over Zucchini Noodles: A healthier take on spaghetti and meatballs for the pasta lovers in your family.
  4. Breakfast For Dinner: While you can do breakfast for dinner 100 different ways, we love these eggs fried in a bell pepper for a fun shape you kids will adore.
  5. Mini Meatloaves: Mini anything and your young ones will be requesting seconds. We love this recipe with simple, whole food ingredients.
  6. DIY Burrito Bowls: Meals that allow for customization without extra prep work mean everyone can “have it their way”.
  7. Baked Paleo Chicken Tenders: This version of a kid favorite uses almond flour and coconut for a more sophisticated take on chicken fingers. Pair with a veggie and salad and dinner is complete.
  8. Pesto Spaghetti Squash Pasta: You can hide greens and veggies in a pesto sauce and call spaghetti squash “pasta” and no one will complain about a plateful of vegetables.
  9. Sweet Potato Pasta with Almond Butter Sauce:  All the noodle-y goodness of a bowl of pasta without skimping on the vegetables.
  10. Coconut Red Lentil Peanut Soup: Sweet and warming, kids and adults alike will love this recipe.

What are your favorite, healthy family meals? We’d love to hear! Head on over to Facebook and let us know.

Healthy Holiday Cookie Roundup

Holiday Cookies

Office party cookie exchange? Kids’ gingerbread decorating party? In-laws holiday dinner? Chances are you’re going to be making a batch of cookies at least once this season. Instead of dusting off The Joy of Baking Cookbook for a dated chocolate chip cookie recipe, why don’t you try one of these festive and healthy recipes?

We’ve pulled from our favorite bloggers and recipe creators for our top 15 healthy holiday cookie roundup.

Short on time? Here’s 5 easy, no bake options: 

  1. No Bake Pecan Snowballs (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): With only 7 whole food ingredients and 2 steps, these festive cookies make the top of our list.
  2. Dark Chocolate Truffles (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Roll these superfood packed bites into matcha powder and pulverised dehydrated raspberries for red and green truffles that no one will know are healthy.
  3. Gingerbread Bites (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Easy almond gingerbread bites were our holiday cookie feature last year. Check ’em out.
  4. Chocolate Bark (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Homemade chocolate made with just a few simple ingredients and topped with any toppings you like would make a great dinner party dessert or host gift.
  5. Raw Double Chocolate Macaroons (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Shredded coconut sweetened with dates and dipped in homemade chocolate. Need we say more? (You could easily, skip the chocolate coating to save time and ingredients).

Looking for a healthy takes on holiday classics? Here you go:

  1.  Gingerbread Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): Using almond flour and maple syrup, these are a healthier alternative to the holiday classic (especially with this coconut sugar frosting).
  2. Sugar Cookies with Naturally Colored Frosting (Vegan): Subbing coconut oil for butter and dehydrated raspberries to make red frosting, make this recipe is a winner.
  3. Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): Take the extra step to sub the filling with this 5 minute chia jam and you’ll wow all your friends.
  4. Magic Bars (Vegan, Paleo): A cookie exchange favorite with squeaky clean ingredients…these are a must.
  5. Peppermint Fudge (Vegan, Paleo): 4 ingredient peppermint fudge made with coconut butter. Check out the recipes link to easy DIY coconut butter.

Feel like trying something new? Check out these creative recipes:

  1. Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free): This recipe has us drooling by adding eggnog to the batter. And with only 1/4 cup sugar for the entire recipe, we can’t wait to try.
  2. Secret Ingredient Blondies (Vegan, Gluten Free): These are so good, we promise you’ll never notice the healthy secret ingredient.
  3. Peppermint Brownies (Vegan, Gluten Free): We couldn’t resist throwing in these peppermint black bean brownies too!
  4. Pistachio Crusted Chewy Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free): One of the prettiest and healthy recipes we could find!
  5. Cranberry Chocolate Chia Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): With an ingredient list that you could eat for breakfast, these holiday cookies are a great healthy alternative.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

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Comforting and healthy. Makeover your homemade chicken noodle soup recipe with these 3 simple swaps for an upgraded version of this classic, cozy meal.

  1. Swap zucchini noodles (a.k.a zoodles) for traditional pasta noodles. Replacing flour noodles with a vegetables makes a lower calorie, nutrient packed bowl of soup. We suggest this spiralizer to turn everything from zucchini to sweet potato into noodles. You could easily use parsnip or turnip noodles in this recipe too.
  2. Swap homemade bone broth for store bought.  Traditionally, chicken soup is made with bone broth. (Bone broth is made from simmering bones in water for a long period of time until a broth has formed). This broth is higher in protein, beneficial collagen and lower in sodium than any store bought variety. Read more about how bone broth has been shown to inhibit infection, promote strong bones and fight inflammation. If you’re new to making bone broth, try using a crock pot and following these tips from Bon Appetit. The easiest way to make homemade chicken broth is to use the leftovers from a whole roast chicken (that way you don’t have to pre roast the bones).
  3. Add herbs and aromatics. A squeeze of lemon or garnish of fresh basil can turn a simple recipe into a bright and flavorful soup. Most herbs, spices and aromatics are packed with vitamins and minerals. Adding them to your cooking improves both flavor and nutrition.

Ingredients
2 organic chicken breasts (or about 3 cups shredded chicken)
2 tablespoons organic butter (or sub olive oil)
1 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 onion
3 carrots
2 cloves garlic
4 cups homemade chicken bone broth
1 cup frozen peas
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 zucchini

Instructions
  1. Chop onions, carrots and garlic
  2. Heat pan and melt butter in large soup pot or dutch oven.
  3. Saute onions, carrots until onions are clear, then add garlic and herbs and sauté until fragrant (few minutes)
  4. Add broth and chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through. (If using chicken that’s already cooked and shredded, add to pot and skip to step 6)
  5. Remove chicken and shred with a fork.
  6. Add peas. Simmer until soft (5 minutes)
  7. Meanwhile, use a spirlizer to make the zucchini noodles
  8. Add shredded chicken and zucchini noodles
  9. Let simmer for 10 more minutes
  10. Add lemon juice, zest
  11. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh herbs

Recipe and photo: momowellness.com

5 Tips for a Healthy Halloween

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Whether you’re under 10 years old or over 30, Halloween = candy overload.

I mean, who can resist that pillowcase full of bite sized butterfingers?

Instead of  feeling like the holiday got the best of you, we’ve got some tips to help you (and your kids) avoid the Halloween sugar hangover.

  1. Make a festive meal: Instead of sweets being the center of attention, get festive with savory foods. A healthy meal before trick-or-treating can make a big difference in late night snacking. Here are some ideas:

2. Try a candy inspired smoothie: Blend up one of these nutrient packed smoothie for an afternoon snack. With recipes like peanut butter cup, caramel apple and almond joy, they’re sure to leave your cravings feeling satisfied.

3. Make a splurge plan: If you know the Reese’s will be calling your name, make an agreement with yourself to only have a set amount. Be specific. When you know you only get 1 or two, you’ll enjoy it more and set yourself up to avoid binging. Before Halloween night, it’s also smart to set up expectations with your kids too.

4. Try this sugar hangover meal: protein + healthy fat + probiotics + water. Excess sugar can throw off our hunger/fullness signals and we can often end up with intense cravings. Eat a balanced, protein rich meal with a healthy fat to get your metabolism back on track. Refined sugar can also mess with your gut bacteria, so including a probiotic rich food like kefir, yogurt  or sauerkraut is a bonus. Example breakfast post Halloween: egg and vegetable scramble with avocado and sauerkraut or Greek yogurt and berries.

5. Stock up on the health(ier) stuff. For kids, Thrive market is a great online resource for stocking up on additive-free candies and treats. For the adults, choose dark chocolate or these better choices when it comes to the sweet stuff.

Mix-N-Match Stuffed Roasted Squash

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Are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cook?

Us too.

That’s why we love this mix-n-match guide for making stuffed winter squash.

A hearty and healthy meal you can adapt to whatever you have on hand.

Here’s how it works:

Base Ingredients

  • 1 squash (acorn, kabocha, butternut, delicata)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cups of filling per squash (depending on size)

Filling

  • 1/2 – 1 cup protein – sausage, chicken, pork, tempeh, tofu or beans
  • 1/2 – 1 cup vegetables – onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, greens
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cooked grains – quinoa, rice, farro
  • Herbs and/or spices
  • Optional: nuts/seeds – walnuts, almonds
  • Optional: shredded cheese for topping
  1. Preheat: Oven to 375
  2. Prep the squash: Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds
  3. Bake Squash: Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and add about 1/4 inch water. Cover the dish with foil and bake until a knife easily slices through (anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes)
  4. Prep filling: While the squash is roasting, prepare any filling ingredients (cook meats or veggies fully) Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with spices and herbs.
  5. Stuff the squash halves: Rub inside of cooked squash with a little olive oil and pack with stuffing ingredients. Top with shredded cheese if using.
  6. Bake again: Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until tops are crispy and/or cheese is melted.

Here are some ways you could mix-n-match:

  1. Sausage + mushrooms + onions + kale + farro + sage + walnuts
  2. Chicken + bell peppers + black beans + chili powder + pepper jack cheese
  3. Turkey + onions + thyme + dried cranberries + parmesan cheese
  4. Tofu + mushrooms + spinach + garlic + scallions

Not sold on the mix-n-match idea? Here are 5 recipes to get you inspired:

  1. Sausage Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
  2. Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Acorn Squash
  3. Beef, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Butternut Squash  (paleo)
  4. Stuffed Butternut Squash with Quinoa (vegetarian)
  5. Wild Rice stuffed Butternut squash (vegan / vegetarian) *pictured above

This post was inspired by the Kitchn’s How to Make Stuffed Roasted Squash