By Ali Lopez
MRG Contributor

Hey, everyone. It’s been a while and I’ve missed you all. Sorry for my lapse in posting. But you know … COVID. I’ve had my ups and downs with these past few months, like I am sure all of you have. October had some downs … I lost my dad. November, thankfully, had its share of ups — beautiful running weather and some fun socially distanced “make your own fun” ultras with friends. 

At the beginning of November a group of us ran the Iceman course just as we did last year. This time around we had the company of A LOT of bikers, which was so much fun! Later in the month, we had a spontaneous running adventure from Traverse City to Suttons Bay and back to TC (with a detour to Farm Club… yum!) with two other crazy runner girls. 

And November brought a milestone for me and Michigan Runner Girl. It is my 5-year anniversary writing for the blog! Wow! That is a lot of posts. This one makes 60 if my count is correct! I want to thank Heather for giving me the opportunity to share, and all of you for reading my ramblings about food and running, both here and on the podcast. And I look forward to continuing to share more with all of you.

And now December is here. And with that begins the season of squash. 

Wow! Nice transition huh? Squash is one of my favorite fall/winter veggies. And I have been having a lot of fun lately trying out some new “to me” squash varieties and playing with recipes. I have mentioned my love of delicata squash in a previous post but there are many others to try. 

The beauty of squash is that it is so versatile and can be used in so many different ways, sweet and savory. It can be roasted, boiled, sauteed, stuffed. It can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, stir frys, baked goods and even drinks! And why are they good for runners? Well, they are a low glycemic carb, and also have lots of fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, B and C.

Here are a few suggestions for adding some squash to your life.
  • Pureed squash can be used in my pumpkin latte recipe. (pumpkin is a squash, remember?) I like butternut, kabocha or honeynut here.
  • Acorn and buttercup squash can be baked and stuffed with your favorite stuffing, or try a mix of beans and rice or lentils and quinoa. 
  • Try substituting squash for sweet potatoes in your favorite recipes, or in my burrito bowl or power bowl recipe
  • Substitute squash in your favorite pumpkin bread or muffin recipe. Here is one I made recently and loved!
  • Or try my super delicious squash sauce recipe below. It’s creamy and rich, but oh, so healthy!
Ali’s super delicious, super easy squash sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 1.5 lb.)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Butter or olive oil 
  • Sea salt  and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • A few splashes of apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • Grated parmesan cheese, shredded cheddar or nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1 lb of your favorite pasta shape (like fusilli, rotini, macaroni)

Method

Heat butter or olive oil in a stockpot over medium high heat. Add squash, diced onion, 1.5 cups water, about ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender and water has reduced considerably, about 15 minutes or so depending on how small you diced the squash. 

If you have an immersion blender, purée it right in the pot. If you don’t, transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Add additional water if you need to keep it moving. Taste sauce. Add a few splashes of vinegar and more salt and pepper if needed. 

To use with pasta:

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and put in a bowl. Toss with enough squash sauce to coat and add a little bit of the cooking water if you want to thin it out. Serve with cheese if you like. If you have extra sauce, you can store it in the fridge or freezer for another time. Or double the recipe and plan to have some in the freezer for an easy meal later!

(Ali’s serving tip: I always like to add veggies to my pasta. You can add some roasted broccoli or cauliflower or frozen peas. Or try what I did here — I sautéed some OMG (onions, mushrooms and garlic) until tender and fragrant, then added some chopped greens (swiss chard here) covered the pan and cooked until wilted. Then mix with the pasta and squash sauce! YUM!

Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her website Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

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