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Take comfort – the season of feasting is here

pumpkin barsWhen the sun sets earlier and earlier, you know it’s time for all the comfort foods of fall. These recipes capitalize on two fall  favorites in comforting and healthy ways.

Baked Acorn Squash

Simply baked, coated with butter, maple syrup, salt and just a wee bit of thyme – this will become one of your favorite comfort foods for fall.


1 acorn squash

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Sea salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash the squash and cut it in half lengthwise (through the tip and stem). Also, slice off a tiny slice of the bottom of each half so they don’t wobble on your baking sheet, but don’t cut through to the inside of the squash.

Scoop out the seeds and any loose fibers.

Pour 1 teaspoon of canola oil in the cavity of each squash half. Fold a paper towel in half and rub the oil all over the inside and outside of the squash half. This helps to keep the moisture in the squash.

Acorn squashPlace the squash halves (cavity up) on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, or until a fork goes into the middle and comes out easily. Remove from the oven and place 1 tablespoon of butter in the center of each half. Use a fork to run that butter knob all over the cut surfaces. Drizzle the syrup evenly over the squash, sprinkle with thyme leaves and sea salt. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and enjoy.

Pumpkin and Pecan Bars

These bars are vegetarian friendly, gluten-free, low fat, high in fiber and yes, very tasty.


4 Tablespoons ground flax seed

12 Tablespoons water

2 cups oat flour (just pulse some oatmeal in the food processor for about 30 seconds)

1 cup rolled oats

2 cups chopped pecans

1 stick (1/2 cup) 100% vegetable oil margarine, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

4 ounces silken tofu, drained

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Maple syrup for garnish


In a small bowl, mix together the ground flax seed and water. Stir and let sit for at least 15 minutes. This mixture acts as your eggs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13-inch by 9-inch pan with vegetable oil cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour, oats, pecans, melted margarine, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix with a fork until combined. Put 3/4 of this mixture into the bottom of your baking dish and press down to make a thin crust. Set the remainder aside to use as your topping.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, tofu, flax seed mixture, vanilla, granulated sugar, 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.

Spoon gently over the crust in your baking dish and smooth the top to cover the whole base of the pan.

Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top and bake for 20 minutes more.

Remove and let cool before cutting into squares and drizzling maple syrup over each square.

Recipes/photos courtesy 

of Vicki Amsinger

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