Southwestern Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Salad

This is another recipe from Eat, Live, Run and another picture as well. Food pictures taken with a flash just don't look appetizing. I am going to have to have our meals ready to eat by 5pm to get my own pictures and so far I am just not that on top of it!
I was excited to try spaghetti squash for the first time and had a lot of fun peeling it out after it was done baking...crazy how much it really looks like spaghetti! The salad was a surprise hit. I was pretty sure I would like it but even Mike raved about this one. The dressing is delish and it is a healthy yet filling meal. We will be making it again soon!

for salad —
1 small spaghetti squash
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 orange or red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 bunch cilantro, minced
2 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced cooked chicken breast (I used 1 can chicken, drained)
avocado for serving
for zesty buttermilk dressing—
1/2 cup well shaken buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice your spaghetti squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a greased sheet pan and bake for 40 minutes, until very tender. Let squash cool before using a fork to scoop out “spaghetti” and place in a bowl. You can do this step up to three days before you prepare the salad.
Next, make the dressing. Whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
To prepare the salad, place the cooled spaghetti squash in a large serving bowl. Top with black beans, chicken, bell pepper, shredded green cabbage, cilantro and jicama (I left out), if using. Toss all ingredients together well. Drizzle dressing over salad {you may not want/need to use all the dressing}.
Serve salad on plates topped with sliced avocado.

**Assembled salad will stay fresh, without dressing and avocado, for up to four days covered in the fridge. Dressing will stay fresh for up to a week and is also great served as a dip with raw veggies

Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stew

butternut squash quinoa stew
It is finally cold enough to eat soup here without sweating, which I am excited about :-). I even bought my first butternut squash to try this one out. The soup came together so quickly and was healthy and delicious. The picture is actually from my leftovers for lunch the next day when it tasted even better! (and you could easily leave the chicken out and it would still be tasty)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts (I used 1 can chicken breast and added it when adding tomatoes, etc)
1 can (14-oz) petite or regular diced tomatoes
3 cups chopped butternut squash (about 1 medium squash, peeled and seeded)
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 cups chopped fresh spinach


In a large 4 quart pot heat the olive oil until hot. Add the chopped onions, oregano, and garlic. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is softened. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and boil until the chicken is cooked, 7-9 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the tomatoes, butternut squash, and quinoa. Simmer for 15 minutes until the squash is tender and quinoa is cooked. If desired, scoop out some of the squash, mash it and return it to the pot. Shred the cooked chicken and return to the pot. Add the salt and pepper, adding more salt to taste, if needed. Stir in the spinach. Cook 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Serve warm.

*In the whole batch of soup there is only 1250 calories by my best calculations, and it makes a ton!