I am always looking for great ways to add lean protein into my diet. Fish and chicken are great sources that we all think about, but plant based grains such as freekeh and quinoa are also great and delicious sources. Dr. Oz lists these grains in his 7 Essentials for Women over 40.
I first featured the ancient grain freekeh on The Dr. Oz Show last year as part of my weight loss story, and it's becoming more common in bulk bins and grocery shelves at health food stores. Below is one of my favorite one-pot meals that is perfect for both your holiday table and your waistline!
Roasted Pumpkin With Savory Chicken Sausage and Freekeh
Makes 6 servings
1 cup cracked freekeh (equals 2 cups when cooked)
1 medium pumpkin or winter squash, diced
1 package all natural chicken sausage, diced (I used smoked chicken sausage)
1/2 bunch of dino kale, chopped
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup mushrooms, diced
Sage, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: The Pumpkin
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Quarter the pumpkin and remove seeds and stringy bits. Place on a cookie sheet, skin side down. Drizzle a little olive oil on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender with fork, but not too soft.
Step 2: The Freekeh
While the pumpkin is baking, add 2 1/2 cups water and the freekeh to a medium sauce pan on the stove. On high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes or until tender.
Step 3: The Fixings!
In a skillet, drizzle a little olive oil and toss in diced sausage. Brown sausage on medium heat. Remove from skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, toss in the kale and cook till tender, about 5 minutes. Add a little more olive oil if needed. Once pumpkin is done, peel off the skin, and dice into bite size pieces. In a large bowl, add all ingredients together and toss lightly. Season with freshly crushed sage and thyme. Serve immediately.
There are a variety of really great, healthy, vegetarian sausage options out there if you want to try using those. Additionally, butternut, acorn and all kinds of winter squash make a great addition to this recipe!