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spicy cashew butternut pasta

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An instant take-away from making this recipe: I love Sriracha hot chili sauce, and I think I’m a little late to the party. I’ve always overlooked the bright red bottles with neon green caps sitting on the tables of my favorite Thai and sushi restaurants, my mistake! I finally purchased some 083after eating at a friend’s house recently, and opening her fridge to find about five bottles of the stuff. She said she’d heard there was a shortage, and wasn’t taking any chances.

Another take-away: I’ve always been intimidated to cook with winter squash (how does one get in there?), and I’ve been missing out. They’re really not that hard to slice if you have the right knife. I overcame the fear with spaghetti squash and now use it regularly as a healthy noodle substitute. Slicing up a butternut squash into cubes was more involved, but well worth it. I even got a little arm workout. I suppose you could buy pre-cubed frozen squash, or even slice a whole one into two halves and scrape out the seeds, roast it and scoop out the soft center (just like spaghetti squash)… but I had something to prove this time, so I went for it.

It was quite a success! The light, fluffy texture… the sweet, savory taste… the health benefits… I’m in love with a food again. I’ve seen recipes blending butternut squash into soups, so I thought, why not a sauce? I’d also heard of soaking cashews and blending them to make “cashew cream,” and this seemed like the perfect combination with my squash.

For added color and an extra vegetable, I added broccoli which I highly recommend, but I’m sure any of your favorite vegetables would go nicely. I also saved some roasted butternut squash cubes to mix into the pasta for more texture, and just for fun. The subtle creamy sweetness of the sauce makes an excellent base for experimenting with your favorite flavors. I added hot sauce, garlic, and lemon. This one is definitely a keeper.

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Ingredients:

  • your favorite pasta (I used 2 cups bowtie pasta)
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash, diced into cubes
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight and rinsed
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 Tb lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tb Sriracha hot chili sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
  • 1 Tb onion powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tb nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • salt to taste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2. Slice butternut squash into cubes, spread evenly over baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil

3. Roast squash for 20-30 minutes or until cubes are soft, and let cool (save a few cubes to add to pasta)

4. In high powered blender, add all ingredients: squash, cashews, almond milk, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, onion powder, chili powder, nutritional yeast, and blend on high until sauce is smooth

5. Cook desired amount of pasta noodles according to package directions

6. Steam desired amount of broccoli or other vegetables to mix into the pasta

7. Combine sauce with noodles, butternut squash cubes, and steamed broccoli

8. Add salt to taste

Sauce makes about 3 cups, plenty to get creative with later!

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door

Today was one of those truly good days. I’m so grateful too; I needed it. I’ve been feeling a little beat up by the past couple weeks. I’m currently in full-blown transition mode, planning to move far away and change jobs, but not knowing exactly where, when or what yet. It’s a bit unsettling. Things were beginning to take shape, but then I went through a break-up… the kind that blindsides you, leaves you confused and very sad.

If this were an earlier time in my life, I’d be handling it much differently. I’d be avoiding my feelings, denying them. Pushing on as if nothing were changing, attempting to feel in control. I’d be ignoring the things my body was trying to tell me. I certainly wouldn’t talk to anyone about it, and I’d try to stay numb. I would be completely and totally miserable, consumed with a chronic sinking feeling. Yuck.

Thankfully, that’s not me anymore. I figured out, that way sucks. There’s a better way, it just takes a little effort, but the results are more than worth it. Even though the past two weeks have been difficult, I’ve been accepting things just as they are. I’ve let myself feel all the things I need to feel without judging myself. The old me would see that as weakness. I know now that facing myself, my weakness and vulnerability, is strength and it pays off.

Everyone’s different, but times of stress make my body feel extremely lethargic and slow, it takes so much more effort to get up and move. As an active person, it’s hard for me to give myself a break, but I have been. I’ve been resting more, skipping workouts, doing more meditation and yoga, and trusting my energy will return. It has. I know that if I had been forcing myself to keep up my normal routine, the heaviness would have lasted much longer and gotten worse.hike

I’ve been good to myself. Friday night, I went for a slow trail run at sunset on the Austin greenbelt, cooked a healthy dinner and went to bed early (the 25-year-old me would be gagging).  Saturday, I went with friends to an intensive yoga retreat in a beautiful artist loft space, away from town. By Sunday evening, I felt the blues setting in, so I jumped in my car and drove to a new park I’d never seen before, and went for a peaceful nature trail hike. By that night, I felt cleansed, clear, and connected. I had done the work to get there, and the Universe began to respond.door 2

Last night, I called the person I’d broken up with and we came to an understanding… I think it’s going to work out after all. 🙂 Before I could even leave for work this morning, I got a phone call from the job I want to set up my interview. I slept through the whole night, and felt energized and alert all day. At the grocery store, I got a $2 off coupon for the first time for my favorite (ridiculously expensive) organic bread. Work felt effortless and enjoyable. I randomly received a download for my phone that restored it from a slow, worthless piece of junk to lightening-speed. I’m caught up on communication with my family and friends (rare for me). I just. feel. good.

I know that everything will work out for the best, as it’s meant to. All I’m required to do is ask for what I want, have gratitude for whatever comes my way, and trust that it’s all for the purpose of leading me where I’m meant to go. By taking care of myself and staying clear through a difficult time, I’ve tapped into the “life force.” It’s a knowing, deep inside, that I’m on my path. There’s nothing else like it… it’s the best feeling in the world.

Too much pressure can take you out of the present moment. It can inhibit the life force, the flow of life within you. That kind of pressure can make so much noise that you can’t hear your heart… Let off some steam. Release your emotions. Clear the pathway to the heart. The answer will come.” – Melody Beattie