Acorn Squash stuffed with Ham and Quinoa; counting calories

I am about to address a weighty subject.

Or, at least it can be.

But first, a personal update: You may recall, about 2 months ago I announced that I was fat in France

I would now like to proudly announce that I am no longer fat… anywhere.  I have lost 10lbs.  I plan on losing 4 more, but that's only 'cause it pissed my off so much to find out I was fat that I am determined to get to the middle of the French weight scale for my height.  I'll show 'em!

Back to the weighty subject: 


Everywhere one looks in the US one can see how many calories are in everything.

It can be deceptive: I once looked at a Snicker's candy bar and there were 250 calories per serving. 

Hot damn!

Then I read more closely and there were FIVE servings in the candy bar in my hand.  FIVE!

You may also recall that, in the never-ending quest to keep food on my own table, I run a Weekly Menu Planning Service.

I recently had a new subscriber cancel because my meals had 'way too may calories: between 600 and 700 on average'.

Of course she was right. 

They have that many calories.

Because that's how many a sensible person, not on a diet, will eat for their main meal.

It occurred to me that, just perhaps, there are people who, despite being inundated with information, still don't have a clue how much food they should be eating to maintain their weight.

There are some rough guidelines – like 3000 calories equals a pound of body weight; which means to loose a pound, eat 3000 calories less than you need or to gain a pound eat 2 1/2 of those Snicker's bars.

Here is a Weight Maintenance Calculator that is a bit more precise.

Now you can do the calculations….

But how does it all work?

Lean Cuisine has main courses for 200 calories a serving.

You can't live on 200 calories for a meal.

First: You'll be starving in an hour, so you'll end up eating that Snicker's bar….

Second: You really CAN'T live on 200 calories for a meal.

If you are on a serious, doctor monitored, diet you may be living on 1200 calories a day.

But that's a serious diet – and 400 calories per meal, not 200.

Let's talk about normal life.

According to most guidelines one sees in the US 2,000 calories a day is typical for a woman to maintain weight.

This is how I distribute those calories:

Breakfast: 350 calories
Lunch: 450 calories
Snack: 150 calories
Dinner: 700 calories
Wine: 150 calories

That's 1800 calories – leaving me 200 calories to play with.

I eat well and I don't 'go hungry'.

It does require paying attention, eating healthily and avoiding empty calories.

Taking control of your weight simply requires that you know what you're eating – but for the entire day, not just the 200 calorie Lean Cuisine….

Try this instead:

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa and Ham

Acorn Squash stuffed with Ham and Quinoa

1 large acorn squash
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken stock
8oz (250gr) slice baked or deli-style ham
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 rib celery
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tbs fresh sage
1 1/2 tbs cornstarch (corn flour, maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs water

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Either place face down on tray and microwave for 10 – 12 minutes or put into a baking dish, cover with foil and bake in 400F (200C) oven for 40 minutes.
While squash cooks: Cook the quinoa in chicken stock 15 minutes or according to your package directions, until all liquid is absorbed and it's done. (Check your package directions for correct quantity of stock and cooking times.)
Chop the onion and celery; mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery 5 minutes then add the garlic. Sauté 5 more minutes or until onion and celery are tender and starting to brown. Cut the ham into small cubes, about 1/3" (1cm). Add ham and sage and sauté until ham starts to brown. Add mustard and chicken stock and stir well to combine. Dissolve cornstarch in stock. When ham mixture is simmering stir cornstarch in, a little at a time. (You may not need it all). You want it very thick but not paste. When quinoa is done add it to ham mixture and stir to combine.
To assemble: When squash are ready (they should be tender, almost done) remove from wherever they cooked and fill with the quinoa/ham mixture. Bake (not microwave for this last bit) uncovered for 10 minutes, until heated through and squash is done.

And here is the 'Nutrition Information'

Recipe serves 2
Entire Recipe / per serving
Calories: 1330 / 665
Total Carbohydrates: 200 / 100
Dietary Fiber: 33 / 16.5
Total Fat: 40 / 20
Saturated Fat: 9.6 / 4.8
Cholesterol: 138 / 69
Protein: 64 / 32
Calcium: 430 / 215
Sodium: 3790 / 1895

You will not be hungry after this…..

5 thoughts on “Acorn Squash stuffed with Ham and Quinoa; counting calories”

  1. Katie, thank you. THANK YOU so much for having a rational and healthy idea of what food and calories should look like. I admit to not eating as well as I should — too many of those “empty” calories, that are so easy to find here in the US — but it’s also damn hard to convince people that calories per se are not the enemy. And to find/take the time to cook real food.
    I think I’m being slightly incoherent, but overall the main idea is: YES! Long live yummy, good for you food! (I’m making a variant off of your zucchini/tomato bake that you recently posted tonight. The DH is off elsewhere so I can make zucchini be a main part of supper. 🙂

  2. I’m one of those fat women in France too. I lost a lot of weight going to an exercise club daily but it has slowly come back. My problem is wine I think. I’ve gotten so I can’t have just one glass and food tastes so much better with it.

  3. This weight issue dogs our lives sadly – I have decided to eat what I like but do as much exercise as possible in the great out doors to stave off the middle age spread.

  4. Katie – that looks so good! We had homemade fish and chips last night – not a meal to eat if you want to loose some weight (which I do), but it sure was yummy! I think I need to cut out some carbs, and your squash looks like the perfect dish to do just that.

  5. Laurie, thank you…. and I hope you like the zucchini…. I hate all the fad diets… Really hate them. So much wrong information.
    Linda, ah, yes, the wine…. One cannot have good food without the wine. Or even bad food…
    Manningroad, it was much easier to maintain my weight when we lived in Andorra in the mountains…. lots and lots of outdoor exercise.
    Ina, I love fish and chips…. with tarter sauce.

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