Tips & Guest Recipe!

So it has almost been one week; how are you making out with the elimination of grains in your diet? Going farther back, are you doing okay with the Zone blocks? Personal experience suggestion: print out the Zone proportions, black out the grain blocks, and keep the page on reference in your kitchen, car, work desk, or where ever you prepare/eat most of your meals. I laminated mine for durability. Keep it out when you are making your meals or ordering food so you know exactly how much to put on your plate.

Another great tip is to plan out your meals for the week early on. For example, on Sunday, decide what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next 4 days. Make sure your fridge is stocked with everything needed to make the meals. If possible, cook as many of the meals as you can Sunday night and refrigerate or freeze them so you can just grab and go when needed. If it's a meal that better and/or easier prepared at the time of serving, do as much prep work either earlier that day or the day before to take the stress away from doing it in the moment. Then, on Thursday, decide what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next 3 days, and follow the same steps as above. Once you start to get more familiar with the block proportions and paleo style foods that you like, meal planning will be easier to do in the moment. However, until you get to that point, planning will help alleviate stress associated with altering your diet.

Today's recipe comes all the way from Arizona. Tried and true by my brother and his friend, it looks so delicious I am ready to fly down there and have the chef cook it up for me! This recipe is good for about 4 4-block meals. The sausage, olives, and feta add ample fat to the meal and totally amp up the flavor! 

Stuffed Acorn Squash 
The Food
2 Acorn Squash, halved lengthwise (so the halves are symmetrical) and cleaned 
1 - 1 1/4 lbs Italian Sausage, chicken or pork, Spicy or regular
2 small zucchini (enough to slightly overfill 1 cup, diced to 1/2" dice)
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced to 1/2" squares (about 3/4 cup or 1 cup - more is fine)
1 regular eggplant or 3 Japanese eggplants, diced to about 1/2" thick (about 1 1/2 cups - it will cook down)
1/2 sweet onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 - 1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled (or more to taste)
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, pitted, drained and chopped (or leave whole!)
3 cloves garlic, chopped (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup white wine if you happen to have some - does not have to be cooking wine!
Olive Oil
Hot Pepper Flakes

The MethodPreheat the oven to 400. Place the squash cut side down in a 9x13 baking dish and fill about 1/2" high with water.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, rotating dish halfway though if you know your oven heats unevenly. 

While the squash is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the sausage, casings removed (you can cut open the casings and drop the meat in your pan, or just squeeze it out like toothpaste).  Using a wooden spatula or other favorite sauteing utensil, break the sausage into small pieces and let it brown and cook through, stirring often.  Add a few shakes of hot pepper flakes if you like.  It will be very firm when it's cooked though.  When it's done, remove from the pan using a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan.  If there is an excessive amount of fat  (i.e.,1/4" deep filling the pan or more) remove some until you have a healthy coating on the pan.  Add the onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the eggplant to the mixture and cook until it is softened and uniformly cooked through (no light spots).  Add a dash of salt while cooking if you'd like. Remove entire mixture from pan.  

Add 1 tbs olive oil to pan if it looks dry.  Add zucchini and bell pepper.  Add, if desired, 1 teaspoon each basil and parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Cook until beginning to soften, but still al dente - the zucchini will likely be softer than the pepper.  If you want them to have the same texture, put the pepper in the pan first, allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, then cook the zucchini to desired doneness.  Remove from pan.

Turn the heat up to medium high. Without adding more oil, return the sausage and eggplant to the pan, stirring.  Allow to heat though, then pour in the white wine (if using) and while it cooks off, use your wooden spatula to scrape up any browning bits from the pan.  Once the wine has cooked down, add the other vegetables back into the pan and heat through, stirring to mix everything together.  Turn off the heat.

Check squash after 45 minutes - when the skin gives when you poke it, it's done.  

To serve:
Place one acorn squash half in a large bowl. Put about 1 1/2 tbs of Feta cheese in the bottom of the squash.  Fill to slightly overflowing with the  sausage mixture.  Top with more Feta and Kalamata olives, if desired.  Repeat with other squash halves!  Enjoy!

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