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Hearty Vegan Stuffed Butternut Squash With Quinoa and Toasted Pine Nuts

Butternut Squash is one of my favorite foods because of its health benefits, its sweet & nutty taste, and its versatility in the kitchen. I include it in my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and even dessert sometimes!

I also love the history of this veggie. How cool that squash is among the oldest known crops, dating back 10,000 years to Mexico and Central America. The name squash comes from the Native American word askutasquash, which means uncooked or eaten raw.

Even cooler are the myriad health benefits of butternut squash. What this veggie can do for you is pretty impressive. To start with, it’s a great hydrator. One serving of butternut squash is roughly 87% water, which can help keep you hydrated.

These are some other health benefits from WebMD’s website: 

Butternut squash is good for your immunity. Like other orange-colored fruits and vegetables, butternut squash is full of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Your body converts them to vitamin A, which is important for your immune system.

It’s excellent for your eyes. Butternut squash has lutein and zeaxanthin, often found in yellow fruits and vegetables as well as eggs. Along with beta-carotene and vitamin A, these protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays.

Keep in mind that your body needs a bit of healthy fat to best absorb these eye-benefitting nutrients, so consider eating butternut squash with a little drizzle of olive oil.

It’s a good source of fiber. Foods high in dietary fiber can help keep your weight in balance and lower your cancer risk. Research shows that butternut squash can help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, in particular.

It can help your blood pressure. Butternut squash is high in potassium, which can help keep your blood pressure in check. Managing your blood pressure can reduce your risk for stroke and heart disease.

Its fiber helps with blood sugar. Butternut squash contains a type of fiber that’s not digestible. If you have diabetes, it can help keep your blood sugar from rising after eating. Butternut squash also has a low glycemic index, which means that its carbs are digested more slowly. This also helps keep blood sugar from rising.


Butternut squash health benefits

As a Reiki healer, I love simple, organic ways that we can balance our chakras simply by eating a more intentional diet. In this article I wrote for MindBodyGreen, I highlight how certain foods are thought to nourish certain chakras. 

So how does butternut squash help here? 

Check it out—orange foods are the go-to for balancing the sacral chakra. Choosing foods that are in alignment with the sacral is an easy way to help both your physical body and your energetic body do the work.

Sweet potato, pumpkin, and butternut squash are on the list of delish veggies that can help you nourish this second shakra, which is all about creativity, sexual energy, and relating to our emotions and the emotions of others. 

So let’s get down to cooking. This stuffed butternut squash recipe is absolutely delicious. The earthy, sweet squash adds richness to the dish while the bright pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts add a whole other dimension of color and crunch!

It definitely is more time-consuming than some other recipes out there, but worth every minute! I recommend making this the next time you have friends or family over - they will be so impressed with the aesthetic and taste of the dish.



Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 75 min

Total: 85 min

Servings: 4



(please use organic ingredients whenever possible)

  • 2 ea medium butternut squash, halved, seeds removed
  • 4 tsp avocado oil
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 C tri-colored quinoa (any other quinoa is fine too)
  • 1 1/3 C vegetable broth, homemade or low sodium
  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves rough chopped
  • 2 ea fresh thyme sprigs
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan salt or sea salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground white pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 15 oz cooked chickpeas (if using canned or bottled, rinse and drain)
  • 1 ea medium orange, zested
  • ½ each juice of half of the zested orange above
  • 1/3 C fresh pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ C pine nuts (raw or toasted, optional)



    • Pre-heat oven to 425F, place rack in the middle of the oven
    • Arrange the butternut squash halves, cut side up on an unlined sheet pan
    • Drizzle and spread 1 tsp of avocado oil on each of the 4 cut halves of butternut squash, lightly salt and pepper each half
    • Bake uncovered for 55-60minutes, or until fork-tender.
    • While the butternut squash is baking, use a fine-mesh sieve to thoroughly rinse the quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear.
    • Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan with the broth and bring to fast simmer.
    • Cover the saucepan with the quinoa with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
    • Removed the quinoa from heat (keeping covered with the lid) and allow to sit and steam for another 3 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
    • Using a large skillet, 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.
    • Add to the skillet the torn kale leaves and cook until just slightly wilted, about 2-3 minutes and reduce heat to medium-low.
    • Add to the kale the thyme sprigs, salt and pepper, to taste. Heat until slightly fragrant. Remove thyme stems.
    • Add to the skillet the chickpeas, the cooked quinoa, squeeze juice from the half orange, and add the orange zest. Remove from heat.
    • Once butternut squash is fork-tender and slightly caramelized on the edges, remove from the oven and allow to cool (while still on the pan).
    • Using heat-protective gloves, scoop out the flesh of the butternut squash, leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the sides. Reserve this for later use.
    • Add the pomegranate seeds and pine nuts to the kale and quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Ready for filling!
    • Stuff the butternut squash halves with a heaping amount of the kale and quinoa mixture. Ready to serve! (Reserve any extra stuffing for later use for a buddha bowl)



    • Can use acorn squash instead of butternut squash

    • Can use cranberries instead of pomegranate seeds. In this case, add cranberries to the stuffing when adding the quinoa to the kale.

    • Can use other nuts instead of pine nuts: chopping toasted hazelnuts, chopped pecans, toasted almond slivers.

    • Can add vegan parmesan to the top of the stuffing and warm in the oven for 5 minutes before serving.


    Bon appetit! 



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