If you make one thing this holiday season, make it these beautiful Protein-Packed Acorn Squash Boats – but that’s only if you like a good thing, and I think you do 🙂
Let me tell you right off the bat what makes these squash boats filled with deliciousness the perfect meal:
- Acorn squash: packed with vitamin A, niacin, folate, thiamine and vitamin B-6, but it is an especially good source of vitamin C (20% of the daily recommended allowance per 1/2 cup serving)
- Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese: about 14 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving
- Cashew Butter: 2.8 grams of protein per tablespoon
- Pumpkin Seeds: filled with antioxidants, magnesium, protein, and zinc
- Dried Cranberries: 2.3 grams of fiber per 1/3 of a cup
Who knew there was so much vitamin C in that cute little acorn squash?
Sweet and savory all at once, Protein-Packed Acorn Squash Boats are great for breakfast, lunch, as an appetizer, or as a holiday side dish. Make a few extra, divide them up and pass them around the table at your holiday celebration.
If you love savory breakfasts, you already know Protein-Packed Acorn Squash Boats aren’t just for dinner. If you have an active day ahead of you (being a Utahn, I’m thinking mountain biking, hiking, skiing, running…) this is the kind of breakfast that will hold you over until lunchtime and then some. To save time in the morning, you can always pre-bake the squash the night before and pop them in the microwave in the morning, then add the toppings.
To prepare Protein-Packed Acorn Squash Boats, you’ll start by slicing your squash by running a sharp knife down along one side of the stem. Yes, someone’s going to get a bigger squash boat. Who’s been behaving?
Cut up a tablespoon of butter into small chunks and place half inside one half of the acorn squash and the rest in the other. If you’re trying to avoid butter, you can use coconut oil or olive oil. Sprinkle both acorn squash cavities with cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pop the squash in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork. Now sit back and enjoy the unbelievable aroma of fall wafting through your home. Try to control yourself and don’t open that oven…cooked acorn squash is better tasting than raw squash, so be patient 🙂
I used whole milk ricotta cheese for the filling because I really love the creamy texture and the fact that it reheats well if you have leftovers. I also think whole milk yogurt would be delicious here (although it won’t reheat well), and if it’s maple flavored, you don’t even need to sweeten it. You’re an adult (I’m making assumptions, I know) – you have full permission to get creative 😉 For the slightly sweet filling, add a little cinnamon to the ricotta, a little splash of vanilla and maple syrup. Mix it up really well.
Toast up your pumpkin seeds until you hear them pop. Again…take in the delicious aroma.
Have all your toppings ready so you can make your Protein-Packed Acorn Squash Boats as soon as you pull them out of the oven. They’re best eaten warm. Just layer it on – the ricotta cheese mix (or yogurt), cashew butter, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and more dashes of cinnamon. Make sure you get one of each piece of goodness in every bite. It’s like a fall party in your mouth.
Protein-Packed Acorn Squash Boats
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon + a few dashes see instructions below
- pinch of salt to taste
- 1/8 cup of pumpkin seeds toasted
- 1/8 of a cup of dried cranberries unsweetened
- 2 Tbsp cashew butter
For the Ricotta Filling
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese or whole milk yogurt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- dash of real vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 450°F
- Slice the acorn squash in half by sliding a sharp knife down one side of the stem. Remove and discard the seeds. Place the squash face up (skin side down) on a baking sheet. Cut the butter into small bits and place equal amounts into each squash cavity. Sprinkle the 1/4 tsp of cinnamon evenly inside each squash half, and do the same with the brown sugar. Sprinkle the inside of each acorn squash half with a pinch of salt. Bake for 45 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork.
- Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta filling by mixing the ricotta, cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup in a small bowl. Set aside and let it come to room temperature.
- Heat a small skillet oven medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Toss constantly until they begin to pop and remove from heat.
- Once the squash has finished baking, fill each half with the ricotta mixture and a tablespoon each of the cashew butter. Finish off with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and a few dashes of cinnamon. Serve immediately.