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It’s the middle of February. The sky is gray, the temps are frigid, and the once enchanting snow has melted and been replaced by rain. On these dark and dreary days I yearn for comfort food. Comfort food is usually associated with creamy, cheesy high fat indulgences such as mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, or lasagna. However, a great kale recipe can warm up a cold day too.
This delicious and nutritious winter recipe skips the fat and replaces it with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants! Using the amazing super powers of plants you’ll not only be comforted by this hearty dish, but you’ll also do your body and your mood a whole lot of good.
Boost Your Mood with Plants
In a study done by the British Journal of Psychology of over 3,500 men and women it was reported that those who ate a diet of whole foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains were less likely to report depressive symptoms than those that consumed desserts, fried foods, processed meats, refined grains, and high fat dairy products. Those comfort foods don’t sound so comforting anymore, do they? Rather than picking you up they weigh you down both physically and emotionally. Ditch the processed comfort foods, and replace it with the mood enhancing, immune building, sunshine power of plants!
The Mood Enhancing Power of Kale
Folate, a B vitamin found in kale affects the neurotransmitters that affect mood. It’s also important for brain development. In addition, 1 cup of raw kale has 3 grams of protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, making it a great addition to a meat free diet. Kale also contains 2.5 grams of fiber that keeps you feeling fuller longer, and regulates blood sugar levels. Be careful of your kale intake if you have thyroid problems as it can interact with thyroid function when consumed in large quantities.
The Immune Building Power of Acorn Squash
Acorn squash also contains Folate, which gives you an additional mood boost.One of the more surprising vitamins in acorn squash is vitamin C. Vitamin C promotes a healthy immune and skeletal system. Ditch the high calorie orange juice and go for an acorn squash to fight the nasty winter cold away.
The Sunshine Power of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable that contains the vitally important vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, reduces the risk of catching the flu, and reduces the risk of diabetes. When winter hits, and we spend more time indoors many people do not get sufficient vitamin D. One way you can get your vitamin D in winter is by consuming mushrooms. If you are deficient in vitamin D you may feel tired, achy, depressed, or get sick more easily. Medical News Today provides an excellent synopsis regarding the health benefits of vitamin D.
Energy Boosting Power of Whole-Wheat Pearled Couscous
Okay, so whole-wheat pearled couscous is not a vegetable, but it is a great addition to this dish with 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 10% of your daily iron in 1/3 cup. Pearled couscous is a pasta made from a combination of semolina and wheat flour. Carbohydrates, like pearled couscous can also boost your mood. Researchers believe that carbohydrates produce serotonin, a chemical in the brain that promotes happiness.
With this combination of mood enhancing, immune building, energy boosting ingredients you’ll beat those winter blues away!
For more delicious and healthy recipes like this kale recipe, be sure to get my FREE Clean Eating Meal Plan. You’ll get breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert recipes the whole family will enjoy!
Kale, Mushroom and Couscous Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 acorn squashes halved
- 2 ¼ cups Vegetable Stock
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 8 oz package of sliced mushrooms chopped
- 4 cups kale stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup whole-wheat pearled couscous
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts optional
- Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the acorn squash into halves, removing seeds from the center. Place in a pan cut side down. Add 1 to 2 cups of water. Cook for 20 minutes. If squash in not soft when pierced with a fork cook for an additional 5 minutes or until tender.
- While acorn squash is cooking add 1 cup of vegetable broth to a saucepan over medium heat. Dice onion and add to broth. Cook until translucent. Add minced garlic, and chopped mushrooms. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, curry powder, and turmeric. Add chopped kale, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes until bright green.
- Meanwhile, bring 1 ¼ cup of vegetable broth and 1 cup of pearled couscous to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss couscous with the kale.
- Place the four acorn squash halves on a plate. Evenly distribute the kale and couscous mixture among the four halves. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Looking for another great plant-based weeknight meal? Try my Lentil Tacos!