Make: Super-Creamy (Dairy-Free!) Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Pumpkin Turkey Chili | Photo by Rebecca Boyd

The pumpkin spice craze makes me laugh. Best-ever jab was a sign I saw outside of an auto shop that advertised their “pumpkin spice motor oil.” I used to dismiss the idea of pumpkin chili because the two ideas didn’t meld in my mind. Turns out I can be wrong sometimes  — I know, it was a shock to me, too. It’s almost like magic, but the taste of pumpkin is nowhere to be found and instead you’re left with creamy chili (sans dairy) that’s, if possible, healthier than your average version.

This recipe makes a great big batch, which I love, because I can get another night’s dinner out of it and it’s also gorgeously healthy. Here’s to Sunday football fare with an extra dose of nourishment.

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MAKE: Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash | Photo by Becca Boyd

The flavor profile of this snazzy dinner is simply spectacular: the salty, spicy filling pairs so well with the sweet, creamy squash and the cheese is a nice, mild addition to it all (and who doesn’t love melted mozzarella?). There are a ton of places for you to customize this, if you like. The bell pepper can be swapped for corn or even broccoli (finely chopped), you can sub the meat for something like turkey sausage, and go nuts with the cheese (Swiss, cheddar, really anything will work).

I liked this so much I’d consider making it for myself on Sunday and eating scrumptious, gorgeously healthy lunches every day of the week. If you’re pressed for time on weekday nights, bake the squash over the weekend. That way, you’re only a half hour away from an ideal dinner.

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MAKE: Baked Apple-Pecan Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Apple-pecan oatmeal bake | Photo by Becca Boyd

It’s apple season! I know pumpkin is king this time of year but, honestly, I’m more of an apple girl. The first Honey Crisp sighting inspires such joy I find myself taking pictures and if the apple-a-day adage is true, then no one in my family should need to see the doctor until at least January. We eat Fuji, Honey Crisp and Ginger Gold out of hand, but when I find myself with Rome or Macintosh, it’s time to bake.

Now pie is all well and good, but it calls for a special occasion. This baked apple-pecan oatmeal, on the other hand, has so many applications it should be a weekly staple. Obviously it makes a wonderful breakfast, but with the addition of Greek yogurt (for lunch) or cinnamon ice cream (for dessert), there’s no chance this easy, healthy dish will go to waste. Bring on fall!

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MAKE: No-Bake Chocolate Almond Cherry Bonbons

No-Bake Chocolate Almond Cherry Bonbons  | Photo by Becca Boyd

Truly, this recipe takes 10 minutes to throw together. This is the type of kid-friendly “cooking” (this can barely be described as cooking) that can serve as the perfect way to get kids used to new foods. Do they think they don’t like almonds? Cover them in chocolate and I bet they’ll change their minds.

Plus, we all know by now that a great way to get kids to try new foods is to have them help you make them — every cook wants to taste the dish they worked hard to create. Happen to have some pistachios and dried cranberries in the pantry? Sounds great; keep the amounts the same and you’re good to go.

As fall schedules kick into gear, having a treat ready to go in your fridge that takes mere minutes to create is a lifesaver. After all, who doesn’t like a little chocolate with their morning coffee?

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MAKE: Crispy Garlic and Parmesan Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats | Photo by Becca Boyd

This 20-minute side dish has quickly become my favorite way to cook zucchini, which comes in mighty useful this time of year when, if possible, there are too many zucchini to deal with. The flavor combo of garlic, fresh herbs and parmesan cheese fills your kitchen with a smell that literally makes your mouth water, and when paired with the beautifully crunchy bite, it’s summertime eating at its finest.

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MAKE: Guilt-Free Zesty Chicken Burgers With Cilantro Cream Sauce

Zesty Chicken Burgers With Cilantro Cream Sauce | Photo by Becca Boyd

These are not the burgers you make when you have a crowd of 20 on short notice on a hot summer’s night. Those guests can eat their pre-shaped beef patties from the grocery story and be grateful you’re hosting them. These are “something to look forward to on a Tuesday” burgers. They’re healthy but amazingly flavorful and super simple to make.

You might take a quick look at my list of ingredients and deem it “too long,” but, conveniently, the sauce and the burger have almost the same ingredients (lime, onion, mayo and cilantro appear twice). If you don’t like spice then omit the jalapeno from the cream, but if you really like spice, chop that sucker whole without removing seeds/ribs (that’s where the heat is). Either way, the end result here tastes like something you’d order at a restaurant but, as is always the case, the healthiest food is the food you make at home.

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MAKE: Grilled Corn With Basil Butter

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter | Photo by Becca Boyd

For a tailgate or BBQ side, you can’t do much butter than grilled corn on the cob (see what I did there?). I mean, the grill’s hot, right?

By keeping the husks on, the corn steams a bit, which helps it to cook through before browning too much. The basil butter to go with this recipe can be made in about 30 seconds (except, you will have to clean your food processor, natch). Grilled corn is essentially just cooked corn, which is great — but it’s the basil butter that sets this apart. The butter can be made days ahead, and if you’re grilling already, save some water and throw your corn on the grates. Voila!

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Healthy Recipe: Lighter Spinach and Parmesan Dip

Lighter Spinach and Parmesan Dip | Photo by Becca Boyd

Now, when you read “Spinach and Parmesan Dip,” you probably picture one of those cheesy, warm, delicious spinach and artichoke dips. Those are stupendous, but this is not that. This is closer to hummus (in that it’s tasty, but also cold and healthy). But since hummus has become more of an everyday staple (hi, Dizengoff), I find it’s less exciting as an appetizer.

And just how healthy is this dip? Well, if you look at the ingredients you’ll see that it calls for 16 ounces of fresh baby spinach — that’s a huge giant tub — cooked down and pureed with just a bit of dairy (Greek yogurt and parmesan cheese) to make it smooth and dip-like. My point: there’s a crap-ton of spinach in here, people.

And this recipe gets bonus points because it’s healthier than your average spinach dip and versatile — when I wanted to zazz up some cooked chicken in my fridge, I tossed it together with leftover dip to make “spinach and parmesan chicken salad,” which was unbelievably amazing. Because this makes a large amount, you can get double usage every time; just buy chicken when you buy the dip ingredients and you’ll have lunch ready for the start of your week — not to mention the kind of app your friends will love you for.

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Make: The Noodle Bowl to End Your Healthy-Eating Rut

Rice Noodle Bowl | Photo by Becca Boyd

We all get in food ruts, and this can happen especially easily when healthy eating is your main objective. Grilled chicken breasts over salad greens is a wonderful standby, but we all know: It can get old fast. That’s where this noodle bowl comes in — it might be a bit outside of your comfort zone, but why not shake things up? A filling, warming bowl of fun-to-eat noodles and highly flavorful broth might be just what you need in these last days of spring.

You may see a few ingredients you don’t typically buy, but don’t worry, you’ll be making this again soon and can you use them again then.

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Recipe: Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream | Photo by Becca Boyd

As someone who is just “eh” about fish, I will be writing this spice rub on a post-it and putting it on the back of my cabinet door; no more boring fish in my house. The spice rub and the avocado cream sauce are really what makes these great; if you’d like to sub out different toppings, feel free. These have some solid heat, but if you want more, add sliced jalapenos on top.

When it comes to prep, don’t want to chop up a head of cabbage? Buy a bag of coleslaw mix. Do you eat gluten-free? Sub corn tortillas. This would be a perfect meal for company — let them dress their tacos as they like. You can do everything ahead except toasting the tortillas; just reheat that fish because nobody likes cold fish (or people described as cold fish).

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