Category Archives: Nutrition and recipes

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup


It’s finally soup weather! I’ve been roasting & blending pretty much any veggie I can get my hands on lately, achieving amazing depth of flavor and rich creaminess for minimal calories. Red peppers & portobello mushrooms are year-round favorites, but I’ve been craving lots of squash recently.

Roasted squash makes brilliant soup. The rich, creamy flesh caramelizes beautifully & blends thickly with no need for cream to give it body. I’m hopelessly addicted to butternut squash soup very simply seasoned with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper & a little nutmeg…I’ve been eating my most recent batch every day for the last week. I was craving something different tonight, so I turned to kabocha squash & mochi curry powder.

I first discovered kabocha in my bento box @ Tampopo, one of our weekly lunch treats. The sliver of deep orange squash was enrobed in tempura and tasted a bit like acorn squash had a tender little affair with a chestnut. I instantly fell in love. 30 minutes later, we were at Whole Foods picking up a kabocha. As much as I loved it fried, I knew I’d prefer it roasted.


1 large kabocha squash
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons mochi curry powder
Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash & dry squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds (set them aside to roast for a crispy garnish for your soup). Pierce the flesh a few times with a fork, brush on melted coconut oil & season with salt & pepper.

Roast squash cut side down on a silpat-lined cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes ’til tender, flipping halves over halfway through. Your squash should be caramelized and fork-tender.

When squash is cool, scoop out flesh and place in blender. (I whipped up this recipe in my Vitamix. Any other high-speed blender will work just as well, but I get the best texture when blending vegetable soups in the Vitamix – so creamy & smooth.)

Add vegetable stock, coconut milk and curry powder & blend on High ’til completely smooth, adding small amounts of additional stock if soup is too thick. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed & garnish with toasted seeds (or pumpkin seeds if you prefer).


I loved this so much with curry, but I’m already plotting a holiday version with thyme & pan-fried sage. I think it’ll fit nicely into the traditional flavor profiles of Thanksgiving.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Pyro’s Balls of Energy

In an effort to properly fuel myself on long runs, I’ve stopped buying GUs and sports beans and have started making real food to carry with me in my SPI belt. (Hey, if it works for Scott Jurek, it’s worth trying.)

My pinole biscuits (I really need to post that recipe) travel well and taste great, but sometimes I need a sweeter incentive to keep going – a chocolatey kick in the pleasure center to keep the dopamine flowing when my energy is flagging. This is basically a healthier version of a no-bake cookie recipe: full of energy-sustaining ingredients and in portable, adorable ball form (Anyone who knows me knows how much I love balls).


1 cup uncooked steel cut oats (you can use rolled oats if you don’t like the nutty texture of raw steel cut)

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use 365 brand from Whole Foods)

1 tbsp cocoa powder

½ cup coconut flakes

½ cup nut butter (I use peanut butter but sunflower, cashew or almond would be great too)

1/3 cup honey

1 tbsp hemp hearts

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp cacao nibs

(Those last three are optional but sooooo worth the addition.)

Stir all ingredients ‘til thoroughly combined. Cover and chill for 15-30 minutes ’til it’s firm enough to handle (that’s what she said). Once chilled, roll into 1” balls and return to fridge to set. I ended up with 25 lovely little balls.

I've got some balls.

I’ve got a lot of balls.

Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to a week, or freeze for up to a month. It’s nice to have a batch of these in the freezer for really long runs on hot days – wrap a few in plastic or waxed paper and tuck them into your fuel belt or pack.

Paleo-Friendly Banana-Pumpkin Muffins

It doesn’t really feel like fall yet here in Texas, but I’m already craving pumpkin EVERYTHING. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bisque, pumpkin ravioli…and of course my favorite, pumpkin bread.

Ah, but I don’t eat much wheat flour anymore, and I’m cutting way back on sugar and butter these days. So my grandmother’s old recipes don’t stand the test of time in my kitchen (sorry, Mam-Maw).  I’m keeping her recipe cards for sentimental reasons, but for a lighter alternative, I turned to Ye Olde Internet.

I wanted a recipe that called for almond meal (I’ve been experimenting a lot with it lately – it makes a beautiful coating for tilapia, FYI) so I started with this beautifully photographed blog. As with all recipes and IKEA instructions, I skimmed for the main gist and then whipped up a reasonable facsimile that worked for me.


Mix together in a large bowl:

3 mashed bananas (this is a great way to use up those overripe ones on your counter)

1 ½ cups pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

2 eggs

Then add:

2 cups almond meal

1 tsp sea salt

1 ½ tsp baking soda

½ cup hulled pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp chia seeds (because I put them in EVERYTHING)

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix again, then spoon batter into 12 muffin cups greased with coconut oil and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. They will look dark, but they will be juuuust right. Slide a butterknife around the edges to loosen them, then remove from muffin cups and let cool on a wire rack or plate.


The verdict? AMAZING.  Delicately crisp exterior, super-moist but not too dense interior.  The crunch of the pumpkin seeds and chia seeds added just the right amount of texture to keep it from tasting too much like cake (side note: I would MUCH rather have these than cake for my birthday this year). They’d probably taste sublime split in half and spread with a smidgen of coconut oil if you’re feeling indulgent, but they don’t need it.

These muffins are grain-free, dairy-free and contain no sweeteners beyond those delicious bananas. You can add more cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice mix or ground cloves if they’re not sweet enough for you, but I guarantee you will not miss the sugar or flour. Try them and tell me what you think!

Inside-Out Tamales

(Masa muffins with beef and beans)

I was experimenting in the kitchen today with a big bag of masa harina (which sounds like an 90s dance sensation but is really just finely ground corn flour treated with slaked lime to make the niacin easier to absorb) – making pinole energy bars and whatnot for long runs – when I realized it was well past lunchtime and I needed some protein.  After rummaging for a few basic staples, I concocted this quick, filling and versatile gluten-free recipe that tastes just like a tamale but requires less assembly and (to me, anyway) looks much fancier.

I started with a corn muffin base.  Here’s my basic recipe – next time I plan to add diced chiles or jalapenos to the batter.

Masa muffins:

1 ½ cups masa harina (I like Maseca brand)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ¾ cups milk

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil + enough to grease muffin tins

1 egg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a muffin pan. (I use coconut oil because I use it for, oh, EVERYTHING.)

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to dry, whisking until just combined – the batter will be a bit lumpy.

Fill each muffin tin about halfway (I had enough mix for 8 big muffins – I’ll use a mini pan next time for smaller servings) and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.

While my muffins were baking, I dug through the freezer and pantry for a protein-based topping.  I used lean ground beef and cannellini beans this time, but I plan to experiment with lentils next time for a vegetarian version.  Chicken, pork or black beans would also work – those muffins are an incredibly versatile base.


1lb lean ground beef

1 can of cannellini  beans

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

½ cup water

A few dashes of hot sauce (I like chipotle Tabasco)

Chili powder, cayenne and/or black pepper to taste (look, I’m not gonna micromanage your spice rack.  You know what you like and how much you like, so spice that mess in whatever manner you choose)

Dump all topping ingredients into a large skillet, stirring occasionally, ‘til your meat is browned and the mixture is bubbling.  Drain if necessary (I use 91% lean beef so there wasn’t much draining involved with mine).

Time to throw it all together.


Place a couple of muffins on a plate and spoon a bit of topping over each.  If you’re feeling fancy and don’t mind the extra calories, a dollop of sour cream, a slice of avocado, and/or a sprinkling of shredded cheddar will dress these up nicely.  I have a ton of cherry tomatoes, so mine ended up looking vaguely dessert-like.


Et voila!  The whole thing took about 25-30 minutes and was soooo worth it – the muffins were soft and moist and the chili-like mixture on top tasted just like a tamale without the hassle of rolling, wrapping and steaming. The muffins are versatile enough to serve with chili or soup and they’re pretty spectacular by themselves with a smidgen of honey butter spread across their warm, golden tops. I am so happy with the way these turned out – I can’t wait to try more masa-based recipes.