Delicious and Nutritious Comfort Food

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One of the best parts of the Fall and Winter seasons is the food – at least in my opinion.  Its warm…cozy… stick to your ribs type of stuff.  It always feels good to come inside from a cold Fall or Winter day and dig into something warm like soup or stew or a big bowl of pasta.  That feeling is what inspired the two dishes I’m sharing with you today.  Delicious, nutritious comfort food!

The first recipe is my Butternut Squash and Mushroom “Alfredo.”  A delicious and new take on your typical alfredo sauce.  Surprisingly good for you, yet incredibly delicious – I promise!  I followed up this tasty dinner with a steaming mug of my hot chocolate (tis the season!!).  Both of these dishes are easy and quick to make.  I really hope you’ll try them out on the next cold evening!

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Alfredo:

  • 1 lb short cut pasta (shells, elbows, or orichette)
  • 1 lb 1″ cubed butternut sqaush
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms slice/chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 fat free half and half
  • 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
Fill a large pot of water and heat to boiling over high heat.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add olive oil, mushroom and herbs and sauté until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and begin to crisp up -about 10 minutes or so.  Add minced garlic the last minute of cooking – that way it wont burn!
While you’re cooking the mushrooms, add the cubed butternut squash to the boiling water.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.  With a spider or slotted spoon, scoop out the squash and add it to the mushroom herb mixture.  Toss to combine and keep over low heat.
Bring water back up to a boil and add pasta and cook until al dente.  Add the parmesan cheese, 1/2 and 1/2 and enough of the reserved cooking water to the squash/mushroom mixture until a nice thick sauce forms.  You may need more or less pasta water, so make sure to save enough!  Smash some of the squash with the back of a spoon – it helps create a nice thick sauce.  Add hot pasta and toss together!  Serve warm with a touch more parmesan cheese!
  • 8 oz skim milk
  • 2-3 tbsp unsweetened unprocessed dutch cocoa powder (depends on how chocolately you want it)
  • 1 tbsp Splenda or other no-calorie sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pour milk into a microwave mug (you can also do this all on the stove top, but microwave is fast and convenient).  Add the coca powder, Splenda and vanilla extract stirring to combine.  It might be hard to get everything mixed at first, but once heated, the cocoa powder melts easily into the hot milk.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes depending on how hot you like your cocoa.  Give the cocoa another few stirs until everything is combined nicely.  Enjoy warm!

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