Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad (gluten-free, vegan)

Good Evening Friends,

Normally when it’s -25 in Ottawa I can’t get enough soup or stew, but there is something so amazing about this salad that it rivals even the heartiest of soups. The quinoa and butternut squash taste great while warm, and although this is traditionally a ‘cold’ salad I tend to eat it still slightly warm. I mean, it IS -25 after all. If that means breaking a few rules, then so be it.

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I have been meaning to post this recipe for a week, but since I took the photos with my phone needed to transfer them to my laptop in order to post. However, the 2 decided to give me grief this past week. Mr. Laptop decided it didn’t want to recognize any form of USB and Miss Android well, she was cranky and tried to hold on to her photos as long as possible. I sweet talked them both, and finally they decided to cooperate with me. Which brings us to tonight’s recipe. I hope you enjoy! (Try not to burn your fingers eating piping hot butternut squash cubes…I did it, it hurts!)

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad

3 ½  cups cooked quinoa, cooled

2 small butternut squash cut into ½ cubes (approx 3-4 cups)

3 green onions or 1 small shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup dried cranberries

1/3  cup chopped walnuts

1 lemon juiced  (about ¼ cup)

1 tbsp white vinegar (or vinegar of choice)

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)

¼ cup olive oil + 2 tbsp

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss butternut squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped garlic. Roast for 25-30 minutes flipping once half way through. Once cooked, set aside to cool. Although I roast both of the butternut squash, I only use 1 ½ of them in my salad, the other half I eat while preparing the salad. It’s my foolproof way to ensure I have enough squash left by the time it’s cool enough for the salad. Ask my mom, leaving roasted veggies near me is like leaving a full bag of hallowe’en candy around a kid, it WILL get eaten as quickly as possible.

While the squash cools, prepare dressing for salad. Stir together chopped green onion/shallot, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, dijon, maple syrup, and olive oil. This is not the time to get stingy, use GOOD dijon and olive oil. It makes a world of difference.

Once the butternut squash has cooled to room temperature mix together  quinoa, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, and dressing. Be careful not to mash the butternut squash as it may be quite tender. Add additional salt and pepper if desired and enjoy.

As always, thank you so much for your love and support!

Namaste, my beautiful friends!

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Happy New Year!

Good Evening Friends!

I’d like to start this post by wishing each of you a wonderful new year filled with amazing surprises and maybe even an adventure or two. I sincerely hope that everyone had a fantastic holiday season and spent the time relaxing with family and friends.

I had to turn my head at the last minute because she was attempting to bite my chin (she's teething) and it really hurts! :D
I had to turn my head at the last minute because she was attempting to bite my chin (she’s teething) and it really hurts! 😀

My holidays began with a trip to Nova Scotia, where I spent 10 days with family, laughing until my cheeks hurt.  It’s no secret that my dad and I are huge jokesters and are usually trying our hardest not to get scolded by mom when our pranks get out of control. This year, however, we spent most of our time competing for my 4 month old niece’s attention and smiles, and forgot to put plastic spiders under each other’s pillows. I suppose that means next Christmas will be one filled with epic pranks.

One of the most incredible photos I have from my trip to Nova Scotia, is one my husband snapped without my knowledge, while I was brushing my grandmother’s hair. My nana is 96, and her health has been wavering the past few months, which made it imperative that we make the 6.5 hour drive to see her. The first time I saw the photos, I teared up uncontrollably because in that moment, I remembered every soft word she’d ever spoken to me, every peppermint she gave me in church, every hug, every time I brushed her hair, and it just moved me tremendously.

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Quiet time spent brushing nana’s hair.

We share a birthday, and as a little girl each year on our birthday she would always sit me down and tell me a story about when she was a little girl. I’ve forgotten many of them now, but it was my favourite time of year—well maybe next to Christmas when she allowed me to eat as much fudge as I wanted. I think I should probably mention that she is very particular and doesn’t like for many people to touch her hair, however, she tells me I have angel hands and always gets me to do it. My nana is the most soft spoken woman, yet her words are often so powerful that they stop you immediately in your tracks and make you think. I spent a year living with her and my grandfather in high school when my grandpa was very sick and she needed the extra help and company.

My trip went from one extreme to the other in a matter of hours. In the morning I spent time brushing my 96 year old nana’s hair, and in that same evening, I played super auntie to my sick 4 month old niece. I have never loved another human the way I love this child. The fact that I have this crazy indescribable love for her makes it easier to understand why my mother continues to worry about me to this day. (I love you too, mom!).

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Princess loves the camera. She wasn’t too sure of her hat tho!

The laughs, the cries…oh the cries, the coos while she slept, the way she spit her food half way out when I fed her for the first time, the way she was captivated with water during bath time are all permanently saved in my memory bank. I cannot wait until her first tooth, first steps, and of course her first word—which i’m 99% sure will be GEE (I’m auntie Gee)! This little girl has her entire life ahead of her while my grandmother’s is drawing to an end, and I will try my best to teach her some of the important lessons that her great grandmother, my nana, taught me. I am not being morbid, I want my nana to be around forever, but I also understand that her leaving is a natural part of life and want to honor her in the best way that I can. I will teach my niece that kindness is a better reaction than anger and spitefulness, that women deserve to be treated with respect, and of course i’ll teach her to make amazing brown bread. Okay, so maybe i’ll leave that to my sister since i’m celiac and have never really gotten my grandmother’s recipe down, but I think you get the idea.

I have some announcements coming for the new year, but i’ll leave that for another post. I’m starting a 14 day detox on Monday, so check out my instagram for daily pics on how that progresses! Until my next post, stay beautiful.

Namaste.