good food

Good Food: Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet + Spicy Pecans by emily penn

This was one of my favorite easy dinners to make when I was in my early twenties. I roasted some squash, crumbled some goat cheese on top and sprinkled it with Trader Joe’s Sweet and Spicy Pecans. The combination of the crunchy nuts, creamy goat cheese and sweet butternut squash is SO GOOD.

I wanted to upgrade this recipe, though because I don’t really do dairy anymore and the Trader Joe’s nuts are made with… sugar and canola oil. So while the convenience is nice, I’d much rather make my own sweet and spicy nuts with ingredients I feel good about.

If you do dairy, go for goat cheese. If not, Kite Hill makes an almond milk ricotta that stands in nicely. However I must warn you, the flavor profile has gone down since I last tried it a year ago. It’s really pretty bland (which makes a nice blank canvas!) so I add salt and lemon juice to give it the same flavor profile as the goat cheese. There’s also lots of smaller non-dairy cheese brands, so check your local grocery store for something that might stand in well for goat cheese or ricotta.

This is still one of the most low key dinners and it’s a beautiful side dish for the holidays and upcoming gatherings. You can make the pecans ahead of time and you’ll likely have extras, so keep some on hand for a great little seasonal snack, to. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet + Spicy Pecans

Serves 2 people as an entree, 4-6 as a side
Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes / Total time 1 hour 30 minutes

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sweet + spicy pecans
1 ¼ cups pecans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
cayenne to taste (about ⅛ tsp for a subtle kick)

1 large butternut squash, cubed
2 tbsp avocado oil
generous salt + pepper

garnish with
crumbled cheese of choice (goat cheese or Kite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta)
chopped parsley
pomegranate seeds


  1. For the pecans - preheat oven to 275. Toss everything in a large bowl until the pecans are well-coated. Arrange the pecans in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, just until pecans start to get a little dark. Allow to cool completely.

  2. For the squash - preheat oven to 400. Toss the cubed butternut squash with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, undisturbed.

  3. Remove the baking sheet after 30 minutes and increase the heat to 425. Give the butternut squash a stir. It should be starting to get golden.

  4. Roast for an additional 15 minutes, until the squash is golden and crispy on some edges.

  5. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to the dish(es) you’d like to serve it in.

  6. Sprinkle with a generous amount of pecans, your favorite cheese or non-dairy cheese, and any other toppings you’d like. Enjoy!

Good Food: Sage + Thyme Spaghetti Squash Bake by emily penn

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I’ve never been a huge casserole person, but as life gets busier, the idea of mixing a bunch of stuff together, throwing it in a dish and baking it sounded more and more appealing. I’m not quite sure where this idea came from, but I just started experimenting with it and bam - this recipe was born.

It feels really rich without being heavy, but it is heavy in my favorite food group - veggies! By using the spaghetti squash instead of noodles, this dish keeps a low-carb status. It’s savory and satisfying and perfect as we head into the season of chilly nights and comfort food.

I used sage and thyme but you could also use rosemary or thyme or any other savory herb you have on hand.

Sage + Thyme Spaghetti Squash Bake

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Serves 4 hungry people, 5-6 less hungry people
Cook time 1 hour / Total time 1 hour 30 minutes

1 large spaghetti squash
2 tbsp avocado oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1 pound of grass-fed beef
1 heaping tbsp fresh or dried thyme leaves
1 heaping tbsp fresh or dried sage
1 large head of broccoli, approximately 4 cups chopped

almond “parmesan” topping (optional)
½ cup almond flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt + pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds and place face down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Roast for about 45 minutes, until outside has started to brown and the squash has some give when you poke it.

  1. While squash is roasting, heat avocado oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper and ½ a tsp of salt to the pan. Saute on medium high heat until the onions and peppers start to get some color, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

  2. In the same pan, add the ground beef and other ½ tsp of salt. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Add the sage and thyme about halfway through cooking. Transfer the cooked beef to the same bowl as the onions and peppers.

  3. Next, steam the broccoli. Chop broccoli into bite size florets and steam until tender but still bright green, about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli to the large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

  4. If you’re still waiting for the squash to finish cooking and are planning on making the Almond Parm, do that now. Add all ingredients to a small bowl, mix and set aside.

  5. When squash is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, flipping the squash onto the skin side to release steam. Increase oven temp to 425.

  6. When squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the inside. This should be easy and the squash should look like small noodles. Do this until the skin is as clean as you can get it, adding the squash noodles to the same large bowl as everything else.

  7. Mix all ingredients together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.

  8. Transfer ingredients to a 9x13 casserole dish or any baking dish that holds about 3 quarts. Sprinkle the top with Almond Parm if using.

  9. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. If using the Almond Parm, it will start to turn golden.

  10. Remove from oven and enjoy!


* Some of these steps can be done ahead of time (ie, roasting the squash or steaming the broccoli), which will help this come together more quickly.

Good Food: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl by emily penn

A totally veggie based smoothie bowl that tastes like pumpkin pie!? Yes, please!

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup steamed then frozen cauliflower
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 heaping tsp pumpkin spice
1-2 tbsp of flax, chia or hemp seeds (optional)
1/2 - 1 cup liquid


1.    Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
2.    Pour into your favorite bowl and adorn with your favorite toppings - I like using grain-free granola, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs and bee pollen.
3.    Enjoy! I hope you feel full, happy & ready to take on your day! 

* If you don’t have / don’t want to use vanilla protein powder, add 1/2 - 1 whole banana (fresh or frozen) for sweetness, plus a splash of vanilla extract.