Butternut Squash Rice
I've changed a lot in the last ten months or so, for the better. I've worked out in some form my entire life but I never took it so seriously as I did this past year. It's funny because I started out with the goal of "lose weight, get skinny, look good at my wedding". That slowly morphed into "get fit, be healthy, be comfortable in my own skin at my wedding". And I still surprise myself that I managed to reach that goal for the most part, especially that third and most important one.
I started off with having smoothies with some greens in them, which shifted to green juices as much as I could handle, which then finally evolved into simply eating more salads and healthier foods. Let's just say, I don't miss the green juices and although they're good when you really haven't had a chance to eat healthy that day, it's just not the same as digesting actual food.
Ten months later, I have a love for working out that I didn't think was possible. I feel sad when I miss spinning, I love lifting weights and seeing how much more I can do each week. I still can't stand running but I've found ways around it and realized working out can be enjoyable. I'm finally comfortable in my own skin and don't obsess about the number on a scale because I'm so much stronger than I've ever been and I love checking out my own muscles (embarrassing but true).
Of course, what I've also learned through all this is that as much as I love working out, I also love food. Yes, in a bolded and italicized way.
I didn't want to do any drastic changes to my diet before the wedding that would be unrealistic to keep up with later on--like say, going no carb. I'm Indian-American married to a Chinese-American, I can't say no to a plate of noodles at his family's house or a bowl full of rice at mine, let alone no to a burger on toasted brioche in general (!!).
So I tried looking for little ways around this to help out before the wedding. Since I wasn't about to go on any fad diets, I tried to simply minimize my portions and focus on eating more vegetables and "real" food instead of processed junk.
I stuck to only eating healthy carbs, and eliminated white bread, rice and flour from my diet for a while.
This is when I discovered a spiralizer and got really into spiralizing everything for a while. It's a great way to replace useless carbs and there are some wonderful recipes out there. Buuut I ate my fair share of zucchini noodles for a little too long--in fact, I think it's going to be a couple of years before I can properly appreciate them again--but then I discovered butternut squash rice.
This is the easiest thing ever and it completely replaces white rice in your meals. So much so that sometimes I miss this when I'm eating white rice. I think I much prefer this now.
It has a hint of sweetness from the squash but the same consistency and texture of regular rice.
One of my favorite meals ever is the Chicken Tikka Masala frozen meal from Trader Joe's. I started eating it over my butternut squash rice instead of the white rice that comes with it and the sweetness from the squash enhanced the flavors even more.
And of course, this applies to any curry you may make or buy. I've had this with a simple coconut curry I made with beef, or even a vegetable penang curry.
I also love making it into a breakfast bowl with an egg, some avocado, some sausage and a drizzle of soy sauce, sriracha, and garlic mayo. Simple and delicious. I am a lactard so I skip the cheese but I bet it would only make it taste even better.
This is an easy and delicious way to replace some useless carbs with a vegetable.
Over the last year, a funny thing happened. I grew to actually love and appreciate vegetables on another level. I started making better choices on what I was eating and now I feel lethargic and not very good when I don't have vegetables in some form in my day, along with several glasses of water. I don't go for green juices anymore, but instead a giant bowl of Brussels sprouts. And I've started noticing the differences in myself and my body when I don't eat right. Of course, I still eat dessert (duh) but my meals have gotten much more well-rounded.
Anyway, all this is just me sharing my journey over the last year. I'm really glad I'm not caught up with trying to be skinny anymore because it doesn't matter. I'm still the same person on the inside, and nothing beats being strong and healthy, regardless of what you look like.
Butternut Squash "Rice"
Adapted from here
1 lb raw butternut squash, cubed into coarse chunks
1/2 cup water
Pulse the butternut squash in chunks in your blender until it resembles rice.
Dump the squash pieces into a large and wide saucepan.
Add water and let it cook over medium heat until it softens to your consistency, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir occasionally and let the water evaporate.
If it reaches the consistency you want before the water is all gone, gently drain out the water and store the finished "rice" in the fridge to mix with future meals or use as needed.
If not, add 1/4 cup more water.
*For me, I usually like the consistency it comes to when the water is all gone, but it may be too soggy for your preference.
*Make sure to occasionally taste a bit while cooking to check that it has softened to your preference.
*Feel free to season the squash or even use chicken stock for more flavor--I like making it as plain as plain can be so I can use it in any form I like later.
1/2 cup butternut squash "rice"
Scrambled eggs (a la Gordon Ramsay style)
Handful of breakfast sausage
Any vegetables you have on hand
Half an avocado
Drizzle of soy sauce
Drizzle of sriracha
Sprinkle of cheese, if you wish
Season with garlic powder and salt and pepper