Thankful for Friendsgivings

 Friendsgiving 2
Last night we had our best Friendsgiving yet!  I started the day with a 9 mile trail run up at Percy Warner park just so I could have seconds :)
PW with Lucy
Then, my sweet roommate made (and stuffed) her first turkey, there was sweet potato pie, “apple pie”, and a living room full of some of my dearest friends.  We ALSO put our CHRISTMAS TREE up!  I’m officially okay with celebrating the season as soon as Halloween is over.  Don’t judge me.  Besides, who doesn’t love a room lit up with just the Christmas lights??  That’s what I thought.  No one!
And just how I mentioned I fully intend to not derail during the holidays, I kept my word!  I only had a small slice of sweet potato pie and chose not to have a slice of pecan since I don’t like it as much.  I went back for seconds of the sweet potato casserole, but said no to the extra corn casserole (which was actually probably healthier).  I also went back for seconds of the [guilt-free] Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese made by yours truly.  I felt held accountable, so now I’m holding y’all accountable!  Remember, you cannot outrun a bad diet — not even on Thanksgiving!  Plus think how heavy you’ll feel the next day when you’re trying to burn off those extra calories!

So, this Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese.  Guilt Free.  Very little cheese (don’t stop reading yet!)  And full of vitamin A, potassium, and a fair amount of magnesium to help you cope with that post Thanksgiving side stitch!

PS.  I also make Green Bean Bundles for those of you who refuse to settle for “healthy” on the big day ;)

Butternut Squash Mac

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

21⁄2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved, and seeded, then quartered and sliced into triangles/cubes (a potato peeler worked great!)
6 garlic cloves
1 thyme sprig (I omitted and used a handful of Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 cups chicken stock/broth, or vegetable stock/broth to veganize
1 pound small whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons grated Gruyere (or almond cheese for a vegan/dairy-free version)

Breadcrumb Topping

3⁄4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (I omitted…too lazy)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt


1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large saucepan, add the butternut squash, garlic cloves, thyme sprig (or Italian seasoning), unsweetened almond milk, and stock/broth. Cook until the butternut squash is fork-tender. Remove the sprig of thyme.

2.  Place the squash mixture (including all of the leftover liquid) in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

3.  Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in salted water until it is al dente (~6 min). Drain and rinse with cool water.

4.  Spread out the macaroni in a lightly greased 13-inch x  9-inch pan. Pour the squash puree over the noodles.

5.  Separately, combine all the ingredients for the herbed breadcrumb topping.

6.  Cover the mac ’n’ cheese with foil, place in the oven, and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and evenly spread the breadcrumb topping and Gruyere over the top. Transfer to the broiler and broil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

(Side Notes: I would probably add a pat or two of butter to the noodles once you pour them into the pan.  Mine were just a little bit dry.  Cheese is also subjective.  I used 3 T of cheese–the recipe called for 2.  Heck, use a whole cup if you like!  I will say, though, that it really didn’t taste “less cheesy” than the real deal.  The original recipe only has 5 g of fat.  That’s also not my photo–I forgot to take one.  It’s from the cookbook I use!)

Green Bean Bundles

Green Bean Bundles

Fresh Green Beans (desired amount)
Bacon (I use Hormel Naturals with no nitrites)
Italian Dressing


1. Wrap 4-5 green beans with a half strip of bacon and lay opened-side down on a baking sheet.

2. Once all green beans are wrapped, drizzle with desired amount of Italian dressing.

3. Bake on 350* for 20-30 minutes

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