Warm Fall Harvest Salad with Butternut Squash, Shrimp and Goat Cheese

Warm Fall Harvest Salad

Last week I came across a picture on my phone and was like “OH MY LANTA. HOW DID I FORGET ABOUT THAT SALAD?!” The thought occurred to me in caps and everything.

I made this salad over and over again last winter and just couldn’t get enough of it. But at some point, squash went out of season and the salad and I had to part ways. It was a tough time for me but I got through it. DSC_0690

I moseyed on about the summer months eating lots of seasonal greens and all was well in the world. But fast-forward to this fall and salads just lost their appeal. Just so cold and NOT comforting, you know? But like, it’s not you – it’s me.

So I was about to hang up the towel and move on to cooked veggies for the winter, but somehow and some way, I came across the phone picture and it’s safe to say that I am back in salad mode.

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Creamy and sweet from the butternut squash, tangy from the goat cheese, buttery from the shrimp and crunchy from the crackers. It’s just a full-on party of flavours and textures. And the vinaigrette is really easy and a wonderful complement (cinnamon in vinaigrette = yessssss)

The best part is that if you already have a batch of butternut squash cooked, the salad comes together in less than 5 minutes.


Warm Fall Harvest Salad {Butternut Squash, Shrimp and Goat Cheese}

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

I tend to eye-ball this recipe. So while I provided approximate measurements, feel free to add ingredients to your liking to create a ratio that tastes perfect to you!

For the Salad: 

  • 1 serving greens of choice (spinach works well)
  • 1 – 2 tsp Canola oil
  • 5 – 6 frozen shrimp
  • goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 Tbsp)
  • butternut squash, cubed and roasted* (about 1/2 cup)
  • Mary’s crackers, crushed*
  • vinaigrette (recipe below)

1. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add oil.
2. Run frozen shrimp under cold water for 1-2 minutes, until thawed enough to handle.
3. Peel shrimp and add to hot pan.
4. Cook shrimp, stirring often, until just pink (no more than 2 minutes).
5. Remove from heat and add butternut squash to pan to heat (if cold).
6. Put greens into a bowl and top with shrimp, squash, goat cheese, crackers and vinaigrette.
7. Serve.

Cinnamon Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette for One:

  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • shake of cinnamon

* I simply peeled and cubed a butternut squash and cooked with olive oil, salt and pepper for 25 minutes at 400F, stirring once part-way through.
* Alternatively, you can use the crackers or croutons of your choice

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Well thank you for listening to my little salad life story. Can you tell there’s an exam I should be studying for? ha

If you make it, I hope it rocks your socks off. Be sure to let me know!

What’s your favourite salad combo? 

Another Day of Eats: Maximizing Variety

While a person’s recipe posts definitely offer a little glimpse into the way they eat, I for one love it when bloggers share a full day of food to see how they string it all together. And I almost always finish reading the post with some meal inspiration so hopefully that will be the case for you too!

Today I thought I’d touch upon the idea of being conscious of getting a lot of variety throughout the day. I mentioned the importance of switching up plant-based protein sources in this post, but I think that the same rings true for all types of food. You could be nailing your fruit and veg consumption, but if it’s by eating 8 apples a day, you’re missing out on so many nutrients that other produce has to offer.

For the record, I totally chose to document a day on which I knew I’d be getting quite a bit of variety. Please know that there are times when I eat bread at breakfast, lunch and dinner or fall in love with one particular lunch and literally eat it seven days in a row. And when that’s the case, you won’t find me stressing about it. Becoming obsessed with having the perfect diet is something I see as a pretty slippery slope so I let my tastebuds have a big say in my choices and make sure I’m never feeling deprived.

That said, here’s an idea of the type of thoughts that cross my mind from a nutritional perspective as I make food choices throughout the day (AKA the best time of day).


BREAKFAST 

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Cocoa Banana blueberry oatmeal // cashew almond coconut butter
(If anyone wants this recipe, l’d be happy to share!)

I eat oatmeal almost every morning because I just think it is 10/10 delicious (which is weird, they tell me?!) but I do change up the flavour all the time. Apple, zucchini, strawberry-rhubarb… so many possibilities. I also vary up the nut/seed butters that I slather on top. Peanut butter has a way of hogging all the attention but almond, cashew and sunflower seed are all super tasty and have slightly different nutritional profiles so I make sure they get some of my love too.

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I like to send really cheesy texts to my mom saying things like “Good morning! Look at the beautiful garden I am passing on my way to school!” So if there’s a girl taking selfies outside your house at eight in the morning, it’s probably me. Come say hi!

SNACK 

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Morning snack at school was an apple. I never notice when others eat apples in class but every time I eat one during a lecture I feel like the people four classrooms over must be hearing me chomping. So note to self to start packing softer snacks. (The odds of me remembering that are approximately 0.2%)

LUNCH

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Spinach // canned salmon // avocado // tomatoes // corn //
peas // sun-dried tomatoes // walnuts // carrot // Mary’s Crackers

I admittedly have a hard time switching up my salad base because spinach is my favourite green but changing up the protein I have no trouble with. This day was salmon but other favourites are hard-boiled egg, beans of any sort and quinoa. Also, if you haven’t tried sun-dried tomatoes in your salad, dooooo it! They’re so ‘meaty’ and delicious.

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This is how I finish 99% of my lunches and have plans of stopping the habit um.. never.

SNACK

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iced latte // mesquite oatmeal choc chip cookie

After class I had quite a bit of schoolwork to tackle so I headed to a coffee shop since I never feel like I’m working when I’m sitting in a beautiful space sipping a beautiful beverage. I often go for soy milk in my coffees but on this day I knew I’d be having tofu (soybeans) for dinner and hadn’t had any dairy yet so I opted for regular old milk. I had never heard of a mesquite-flavoured cookie but oh man it hit the spot!

DINNER

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Wheat and Buckwheat noodles // Tofu // Broccoli // Curried Peanut Sauce

I usually keep a couple types of pasta on hand so that I can make a game-time decision based on what I feel like and what I’ve been eating the rest of the day. If I have a big bready sandwich at lunch I tend to gravitate towards brown rice noodles for dinner. But on this day I hadn’t eaten any wheat and had some noodles lying around that were a mix of wheat and buckwheat that I thought would be great for this dish. I clipped this recipe out of a Chatelaine issue years ago and it is so so delicious.

Peanut Noodle Recipe

This little guy came to visit as I was taking pictures of my dinner on the back porch.

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I finished my night with some un-pictured berries and some more work before hitting the hay.


Hope you have an amazing day and eat lots of
food that tastes as good as it makes you feel! 

A Day in the Life of a Protein-Loving Pescatarian

It’s really interesting to hear the reactions when you tell people that you don’t eat meat. For the record, I do eat fish and therefore officially qualify as a pescatarian. And I do my best to avoid referring to myself as a vegetarian to keep its definition intact. But nonetheless, when people hear about the no-meat thing they tend to fall into one of two camps. They’re either like “ohhhh you must be so healthy!” OR “umm.. what about protein?!”

I totally understand both of these statements. I think some people assume that plant-based eaters just cut the meat out of their diets and subsist on the “side dishes”. And eating nothing but mashed potatoes and broccoli would indeed be concerning (not to mention BORING). But as I think is becoming more and more recognized, it is oh so possible to base one’s diet on wholesome plant-based foods and have a thriving body.

When it comes to protein, I really think there’s a misconception as to how much we need. Even active people who are trying to build or maintain their muscle mass usually get plenty without a whole lot of effort in this part of the world. As I hope becomes clear by looking at my day of eats, protein adds up so fast! I used to look at labels and think “only 3 grams of protein in this… lame.” But I’ve come to realize how quickly those grams add up over the course of a day.

Many people are familiar with the terms complete and incomplete protein. But here’s the quickest little crash-course for those who aren’t: of the twenty amino acids that make up protein, the body cannot make 9 on its own. So we need to be sure to eat those ones in adequate quantities! The big advantage to the protein in animal-based foods is that they tend to have all 9. Most plant-based sources, on the other hand, do not. This is why variety is so important in a vegetarian diet; eating different types of foods means eating different amino acids. A person could be getting more than enough protein, but if it’s ALL coming from chickpeas, for example, they could still be lacking in certain amino acids.

But enough rambling! Onto a typical day of food. Yesterday I snapped pictures of my meals and did my best to measure everything (not a usual habit for me!) to give you an idea of how I get my protein.

Breakfast was a thick slice of fully-loaded homemade whole wheat bread (the equivalent in weight to two packaged slices).

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homemade whole wheat bread // sunflower seed butter // banana // coconut // hemp hearts + milk

Protein content
Bread (90g): 10 g
Sunflower seed butter (2 Tsbp): 7 g
Hemp hearts (1 Tbsp): 3 g
Milk (1 cup): 9 g
Total: 29 g 

Lunch was my beloved chickpea salad from the Oh She Glows cookbook. Basically you just throw whatever you usually would into your chicken or tuna salad into mashed chickpeas instead. So quick and delicious!

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chickpea salad // brown rice crackers // avocado

Protein Content 
Chickpea salad (1 cup): 15 g
Crackers (10): 2 g
Total: 17 g

In the afternoon I went to one of my favourite coffee shops with my mom and had a small soy latte and split a cookie. Ottawa friends, Equator Coffee in Westboro is lovely!

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soy latte // brown butter cookie

Protein Content
Soy milk (about 1/2 cup): 4 g

Dinner was lentil tacos (I just subbed the chicken broth for veggie)!

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tortilla // spinach // sour cream // green pepper // lentils // salsa // avocado // cheese

Protein Content
Tortilla: 3 g
Lentils (1/2 cup): 9 g
Sour cream + cheese: 3 g
Total: 15 g

The day’s grand total came to 65 grams. The general recommendation is to consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight; for me that equates to a goal of 45 grams daily. Ummm HOLLA!

I do make a conscious effort to include a solid protein source at each meal. But even on a day when one of my meals is lacking, it’s very likely that I’m still reaching 45 grams.

So here’s to getting everything we need from food that we love and feel good eating.