I get a lot of questions about meal planning and what my typical weeknight meals look like. We do the bowl food thing, the giant pots of brown rice pasta with veggies, the cozy soups with ½ a loaf of bread each (carb lovers club). It’s honestly kinda boring. And while I do meal prep in a sense, it’s a very loose and frankly lazy version of it.
I get whatever vegetables I want, wash and trim them down, separate the lettuce into leaves, put some carrot sticks into a little water bath, cook a grain and a pulse of some kind if I’m really on top of stuff. If I’m dealing with an influx of something like beets, I’ll boil them off and peel them to have on hand for salads. That’s the extent of it though. I know that this approach isn’t terribly helpful to some people, but for me, just having everything ready to go from the fridge is enough for me to get the job done fast most days.
I still enjoy cooking in the moment too–even if I’ve had a weird or busy day. I like to get my hands dirty somehow and let the process melt away any other less-awesome things that might be happening. Meal prepping right up to the point of re-heat and eat would never work for me. I think there’s magic to be found somewhere in the middle of these states of preparedness.
My friend McKel is an advanced prep goddess when it comes to eating and living well. Most of you probably know her site Nutrition Stripped, and how much of a goldmine it is for anyone looking to simplify and focus-up a balanced and vibrant lifestyle. Her whole body-and-mind approach is about maximizing simple habits so that you’ll feel amazing. Along with her society membership, McKel posts highly useful content on preparing yourself for success/total greatness. Her background as a dietician nutritionist provides the why of it all. Simply put, her work lifts me up big time—partly because it’s my cup of (turmeric) tea, but also because you can tell that she’s really in her element. True, true passion catches on like wild fire, ya know?
Her new book is a great dose of inspiration—if you cook healthy all the time or if you’re trying to get a handle on what it means to eat and live well. Tucked into the pages of Nutrition Stripped are tons of great strategies for planning ahead, shopping lists, tips for eating well on a budget, what to eat post-workout or when you’re feeling under the weather, and over 100 beautiful recipes. It’s comprehensive and beautiful.
Here, I’ve taken her roasted squash with dill cashew cream and spun it out into a little bowl with some warm rice, extra dill, and a sprinkle of capers. Squash/early Fall vegetables and fresh dill is one of my favourite combinations, and this lush cream is beyond delicious. It’s diverse enough for meal-planning, and it’s equally suited to eating by the spoonful too. I can see this sauce forming a nice little base for avocado toast, or drizzled over some crispy wedges of butter lettuce or radicchio. To start though, this bowl is a nice way to ease into Fall, and I’m hoping it entices you all to check out McKel’s book!
CRISPY SQUASH WITH DILL CASHEW CREAM RECIPE
From Nutrition Stripped: 100 Whole Food Recipes Made Deliciously Simple by McKel Hill, MS, RDN
NOTES: For the bowl, I just served portions of the squash and dill cream with warm brown/wild rice, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and some capers. Some arugula in the mix would have been ideal, but my refrigerator inventory just didn’t allow for it ;) This squash and dill cream combo would taste good with so many things though. You can totally do as McKel does and serve them up on their own, too!
DILL CASHEW CREAM INGREDIENTS
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
juice of 1 lemon (roughly 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon sea salt
ground black pepper, to taste
2 acorn/delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeded (I prefer delicata–no peeling necessary!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of sea salt
pinch of ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
ground black pepper, to taste
Make the dill cashew cream: combine the drained cashews, water, dill, onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in an upright blender. Blend the cashew mixture on high until completely velvety and smooth. Scrape the cream into a glass jar and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 medium or 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Slice the seeded squash in 1/2 inch thick wedges/half moons. On the baking sheet(s), toss the squash slices with the olive oil, salt, cumin, cayenne, and black pepper. Spread the coated squash slices out into a single layer. Place the squash in the oven, and roast for about 30 minutes, flipping at the halfway point. The slices should have deeply golden edges.
Serve the squash warm with dill cashew cream for dipping/drizzling.