Garam Masala Baked Acorn Squash – Stuffed With Cranberry Rice

Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash With Cranberry Rice & Garam Masala

Oh acorn squash – how I thought you were disgusting when I was a child, and, now I know what it takes to make you delicious!

Many adults aren’t squash fans, probably because their family didn’t serve it very well.  This recipe can change all that.

Healthy Vegan Baked Acorn Squash – No-Oil, Whole-Foods Plant-Based

Most people don’t know how to stuff vegetables, do they?   The ones I know anyways, are wowed when presented with a flavourful rice filled acorn squash.

No need to be impressed folks, because this stuffed acorn squash recipe is a dead easy meal to make.

Downright relaxing for the cook actually.

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Roasted With Wild Rice, Dried Cranberries, Garam Masala, Spinach and Black Beans

This whole-foods plant-based (wpb) oil-free roasted and stuffed acorn squash is extra deliciously complex, because the whole grain wild rice (any nice healthy whole grain rice should do) has extra scrumptious dried cranberry bits in it, plus the east Indian dessert pepper spice Garam Masala.

You can buy Garam Masala in the ethnic section of your grocery store.  I have a large bag of it, it goes nicely with fruit as well, like apple slices before bed, or on oatmeal.

Garam masala, cranberries, and acorn squash are a great combo.  Very romantic.

Plus, I’ve stirred some spinach ribbons, and optionally black beans, through this sticky sweet, spicy, rice, making things very much more interesting.

Can You Eat the Skin of Acorn Squash?

I looked it up and people said that the skin of acorn squash is edible if cooked long enough, so I announced this to my family, when serving them, they promptly all said “no thanks”.

Then I proceeded to try some of the skin on my squash, spit it out, and declared it was much too tough.

“Told you so” my husband said.

I would not encourage others to enjoy eating the skin.

Do enjoy the rest though. 🙂

FODMAP rating – without the black beans this recipe is Low FODMAP.  With the black beans, be sure to used canned, eat 1/4 cup or less of the canned beans and it is moderate FODMAP.

Garam Masala Baked Acorn Squash - Stuffed With Cranberry Rice

Stuffed acorn squash presents well at any family gathering or dinner party, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  The warm, peppery and sweet seasonings pair perfectly with fall and winter weather.

I can't over-emphasize how easy this dish is to make, but makes you look like a fairly accomplished cook.  As long as you have time to cook rice, it will come together 5 minutes after the rice is done.

This vegan no-fat version has dried cranberries, rice, spinach and optionally black beans, so it can easily serve as your entire meal.  

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, Western
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 568 kcal
Author Jeanette Whitten


  • 2 cups wild rice or other healthy whole grains, like short grain brown rice, brown basmati rice, or quinoa
  • 4 cups water or as per rice package instructions
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup dried cranberries I use Craisins (sweetened)
  • 2 acorn squash small, or 1 large, washed and halved
  • 5 cups spinach finely chopped
  • 398 ml black beans, can small can, optional - if you are serving as a meal rather than a side dish


  1. Preheat oven to 400F

  2. Add rice, water, salt, garam masala and cranberries to a pot on high heat.  Bring to a boil, immediately reduce to low simmer, and cook for 45 minutes, or as per rice package instructions.  Check and stir often, to prevent the cranberries from burning.   If the rice is not soft once the water is gone, add more water and cook longer.  The dried cranberries can absorb liquid the rice needs.

  3. Break stem off acorn squashes (if there is one).  Cut in halves.  Scoop out the seeds and strings.  Sprinkle with pepper and salt, place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 30 - 45 minutes (timing will depend on the size of the squash).    

  4. Once the rice is done, turn off the heat.  Stir chopped spinach into the rice so it 'melts'.

  5. If using, drain and rinse black beans, add to rice mixture.  Let sit for a few minutes to warm the beans.

  6. Once done, remove acorn squash from the oven.  The squash should be soft all the way through.

  7. Spoon spinach, black bean, cranberry, rice mixture into squash, you should be able to pile it quite high, serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Omit the black beans to make this recipe a side dish. 

Goes well with lentil loaf at holidays.

Cut large squash into quarters before serving.




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Italian Cornmeal Zucchini Polenta – 20 minutes

Easy Vegan Zuchinni Cornmeal Italian Polenta

Turn a Bag of Cornmeal into Italian Creamy Zucchini Polenta, FAST – with Savoury Seasonings

I’d never made polenta from scratch before.  Have you?

I didn’t know you could make a vegan, fat-free, polenta (think corn porridge!) using cornmeal, for dinner, and that it would only take 15 – 20 minutes.

It’s really easy and very yummy when you add some seasonings and zucchini to it.  The zucchini keeps it moist and stops it from hardening as much, as it cools.

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Cornmeal polenta is faster than pasta, easier than potatoes, speedier than quinoa, quicker than rice, and seriously lip smacking good.raw cornmeal for vegan polenta

If you do know how to make polenta, then you probably agree, making creamy vegan cornmeal polenta is really easy, and naturally tastes great as a no-oil gluten-free whole-grain plant-based quick easy vegan side-dish.

Simple Creamy Vegan Polenta

Boil water, add seasonings and extras (if any), add cornmeal, wait a few minutes, done!

My kids probably would have preferred if I left out the seasonings and extras.

But… I still had 4 zucchini squash from my neighbours and aunt taking up most of my counter ledge.

Must. Use. More. Zucchini. Autumn harvest and all.

So I created this shredded zucchini polenta recipe that turned out wonderfully.

Simple Creamy Vegan Polenta with Zucchini and Italian Seasonings

Boil water, food process a generous sized zucchini (mine made 4 cups), add salt, Italian seasonings like oregano, and rosemary, with generous pepper, add zucchini to the water, stir in cornmeal, wait 5 minutes, voila!

Savoury, vegan, fat-free, gluten-free, low FODMAP (for us folks with IBS), Italian style polenta.

Feeding Vegan Children – Skip the Green Bits

My kids were disappointed that the polenta had the seasonings, and the green bits of zucchini skin.

If you are feeding vegan children who are picky about mixed in green things, like mine, I would suggest you peel the zucchini and make the polenta with just salt, pull the kids portions out, then quickly add remaining seasonings for the non picky eaters.  Serve broccoli or something else green on the side, full transparency kids.


I say quickly, because cornmeal thickens up real fast in boiling water, I was very surprised, and pleased by this.  It is why I suggest adding the spices before the cornmeal in the recipe below, otherwise it is tricky to stir them into the thickness.

I ended up with lumps, and discovered they are very tasty, so don’t worry about those.  What a great easy carb for a supper on a busy night.  Polenta weekly from now on?!

Mmmmm Kind of Texture

The polenta is such a comforting texture when it is warm, like thick porridge, but more smooth, sophisticated, and appropriate for dinner.

Is this what grits are?  I really don’t know.

As soon as I find out, I will share my knowledge with you, it’s my mission.

To make vegan families the norm.

FODMAP rating – low FODMAP.  For people with IBS, no onions in this dish, and cornmeal is low fodmap, yay!

Vegan Italian Cornmeal Zucchini Polenta - 15 minutes - Fat-free

Take water, a bag of cornmeal, a zucchini, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper and turn it into a filling, lip smacking, yummy, warm, vegan comfort food, that comes together so fast and tastes wonderful.

Whole-grains, gluten-free, plant-based, no-oil.  Tastes a bit like thanksgiving.

Use a food processor to prepare the zucchini, peel it first if serving picky children, throw it in some boiling water with the seasonings, add cornmeal, stir and wait 5 minutes for the cornmeal to cook.  

Very simple.  Very cozy.  Very smooth and full of taste.

Great recipe to try on a night you are running late and looking for a fast, easy, simple, vegan carb/starch side-dish for your supper.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 232 kcal
Author Jeanette Whitten


  • 3 cups water
  • 6.5 cups zucchini approximate, shredded in food processor, or grated. One large zucchini.
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast optional, truly, you won't miss it
  • 1 tsp oregano dried, or 1 tbsp fresh
  • 1 tsp rosemary or thyme, dried, or 1 tbsp fresh
  • 2 cups cornmeal cornmeal


  1. Grate or food process zucchini. Peel first if serving to picky children, or picky adults.  Add zucchini and water to a large saucepan, stir to combine and bring to a boil.

  2. Add salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, and nutritional yeast, if using.

  3. With water / zucchini and spices bubbling, add cornmeal in a thin stream, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate.  

    raw cornmeal for vegan polenta
  4. Turn heat to low.  Keep stirring over low heat for at least 5 minutes as the cornmeal cooks and loses it's raw taste. It thickens into polenta very quickly, which is why it is important to have the seasonings in the liquid before the cornmeal. Otherwise it is tricky to stir it all together.

  5. Taste test (blow on it, don't burn your tongue!) and adjust seasonings to your preference.

  6. After the cornmeal has been cooking, it should get thick, turn off heat, let it sit 5 more minutes, then it should be ready to serve.  The longer the polenta sits, the thicker it will get and the herbs will mellow out.  Oregano can be quite strong, I find it tastes better the longer it sits, and is really nice as leftovers.

    Creamy fat-free vegan zucchini cornmeal polenta
  7. Snip green onions or chives overtop when serving, some people like this with freshly squeezed lemon as well, or cranberry sauce.

    vegan no-oil cornmeal polenta with zucchini

Recipe Notes

Stir in black beans before serving if you are looking to add a vegan protein.

Serving ideas, with:

carrots sautéed in water, add spinach and fresh dill when carrots are almost done.

kidney beans or chickpeas and canned mushrooms microwaved in a steamer dish, seasoned with cumin or chili powder and freshly squeezed lemon.  

a nice dark leafy greens salad.

cranberry sauce.







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Green Bean Casserole

Green Beans and Lentil Casserole with Homemade Toasted Bread Croutons

I asked my mother the other day, what is the best way to cook green beans?  They can be tough and chewy if you try to steam them in the microwave, but can be limp, soggy, and watery if you boil them on the stove.  She agreed.  We weren’t sure.

How about baked green beans in a vegan casserole?  Sounds like a great dinner idea.

Apparently green bean casserole is a thing.  I needed to try it, and after testing it out, green beans in a casserole is my favourite way to cook green and yellow beans.

First you blanch the beans in salted boiling water for 5 minutes, then bake them in the casserole for 20-25 minutes in a rich savoury bubbling lentil gravy sauce.  The result?  Tender, flavourful green beans, really nicely done.  Sprinkle them with toasted croutons and almonds before baking, and you get a combo of crunchy, soft, and creamy textures, plus flavours of a holiday meal like Christmas or Thanksgiving.  Quite a delight.

Because of the homemade toasted bread croutons, and the rich lentil gravy base, this classic Thanksgiving side dish could be a light main course on a regular night, lots of protein here.  But, if you are like us, you probably will crave more carbs, so consider serving it with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, or my tomato parsley quinoa salad.

I think you should try making a warm and nicely textured green bean casserole too, the beans will be not too tough, and not too soggy, they will be just right.

Hopefully you choose this whole-foods plant-based green bean casserole recipe to try first. 🙂

FODMAP recipe rating – this is a low FODMAP recipe except for the croutons – use wheat free bread to make low FODMAP croutons.


Green Bean Casserole With Croutons

Turn a classic Thanksgiving side dish, into a wfpb main dish, with lentil gravy, crispy croutons and no heavy cream.  The sauce is my 10 minute gorgeous vegan gravy.

This recipe is easily adjusted to be low FODMAP by using gluten free bread.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Vegan, Western
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 7 servings
Calories 135 kcal
Author Jeanette Whitten


  • 24 oz green beans fresh or frozen
  • 4 cups Brown Lentil Gravy prepared, see recipe
  • 8 slices wheat bread or gluten free bread
  • 1 tbsp green onions chopped fresh or chives
  • 1 tsp sage chopped, or dried
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves chopped, or dried
  • 1 tsp rosemary chopped, or dried
  • 3 tbsp almond flour or blended or crushed almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper freshly ground


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Take out a large sized casserole dish, no lid required.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a large pinch of salt to season the beans nicely; add the green beans. Cook for about 5 minutes, the beans should still be crisp, they will be cooked more in the oven. 

    Blanched Green Beans
  3. Prepare a batch of my 10 minute lentil Gorgeous Vegan Gravy.

    Low FODMAP Lentil Vegan Gravy
  4. Drain and put the green beans into the baking dish, pour the lentil gravy over top and stir to cover the beans.  

  5. Prepare topping: in a small bowl, combine chives, sage, thyme, rosemary, almond flour, pepper, and salt. 

  6. Prepare croutons: Toast whole grain bread, pile on a cutting board, and cut into medium sized squares, with a long bread knife.   Bread with seeds or crunchy bits in it adds another lovely texture element if you have any.  Use wheat free (low FODMAP) or gluten free bread if desired.

    Homemade Croutons
  7. Top beans with the croutons, and sprinkle the herb mix overtop. 

  8. Bake uncovered, until everything is hot and bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes.

    Vegan Green Bean Casserole Topping

Recipe Notes

Fresh herbs add amazing flavour, but dried herbs work also!

Adapted from Tyler Florence.

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