Gut-Friendly Roasted Pumpkin + Forbidden Rice Holiday Salad w/ Maple Tahini Dressing
If you’ve been around for awhile then you probably already know I’m ALL about food that tastes good AND makes you feel good too.
I believe that food can be both enjoyable and nourishing, crave-worthy and life-giving, celebratory without an uncomfortable aftermath.
Every single recipe on sofreshnsogreen.com is designed to be so, but this Gut-Friendly Roasted Pumpkin + Wild Rice Holiday Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing definitely takes the cake in this category.
It’s everything I’d want in a winter/holiday salad — hearty, warm (cold salads are very unappealing to me in the winter) and filled with all the seasonal gems — pumpkin caramelized golden brown, slightly sweet and nutrient-packed forbidden rice, bright pomegranate seeds, candied pecans, creamy goat cheese, and the most flavorful maple tahini dressing.
Not only is it the perfect Thanksgiving/holiday side dish, but it makes a great entree on it’s own all winter long (especially good lunch leftovers).
And just like the title says, it’s filled with gut-friendly ingredients designed to nourish your digestive and hormonal health, such as:
+ Roasted Pumpkin/Kuri Squash
Pumpkin, Kuri squash and other gourd-type type vegetables (think butternut, delicata, acorn squash, etc.) work to increase the production of butyrate, an essential short-chain fatty acid that keeps our gut lining healthy.
+ Forbidden Rice
My favorite rice, Forbidden or Black Rice is chewy, slightly sweet and rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins which promote intestinal colonization and support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.
Shown to reduce inflammation in the gut and improve digestion, as well as potentially be beneficial for people with Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
BONUS — Pomegranate also works to reduce oxidative stress and aid in boosting fertility in both men and women.
This powerful nut contains a beneficial combination of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, abundance of disease-fighting phytochemicals, and high fiber content, which has been shown to improve digestion and lower inflammation.
Made out of sesame seeds, which are rich in gamma-linolenic acid, GLA, that work to support progesterone levels and reduce any inflammation in the body that can trigger both PMS and digestive issues.
While you can eat this salad at any time and experience awesome health and gut-boosting benefits, enjoying it during your luteal phase (the 10-12 days leading up to your period) will work to balance hormones and minimize PMS symptoms.This is primarily due to the high concentration of progesterone-promoting foods (leafy greens, pomegranate, tahini, pecans) and blood-sugar balancing fiber (forbidden rice, roasted pumpkin) which work to stimulate a healthy growth of your uterine lining, minimize blood sugar dips that can trigger moodiness and anxiety, and decrease water retention that can lead to bloating, puffiness or constipation.
- For the salad:
- 1 small to medium sized pumpkin or kuri squash, halved, de-seeded, then cut into wedges (fine to leave skin ON)
- 1 cup forbidden rice
- 2-4 cups leafy greens like arugula, spinach, etc.
- 1 cup pecans
- 2-4 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Optional: sprinkle of creamy goat cheese
- avocado oil + garlic for roasting
- sea salt + pepper to taste
- For the Maple Tahini Dressing:
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup juice from lemons, squeezed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- sprinkle of black pepper
- ½ cup water or more, until a smooth consistency (I found I had to add at least ½ cup water to get it more creamy/a thinner consistency, but feel free to add as much or as little as needed to reach your desired consistency)
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- While oven is heating, make sure your pumpkin is halved, de-seeded and cut into wedges.
- Add 1 cup forbidden rice to a stovetop pan w/ 1¾ cup warm water (or per package instructions), cover and bring to a boil. Turn to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes, until water has fully dissolved (or follow package instructions). Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes and fluff with a fork before serving.
- While rice is cooking, spread pumpkin wedges out on a large parchment lined baking pan and coat with avocado oil, minced garlic, sea salt and pepper. Option to drizzle a little maple syrup on if you like it extra sweet. Roast for 30 minutes at 425, flipping halfway through.
- While rice and pumpkin are cooking, assemble your tahini sauce by adding all ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor and mixing until smooth. Set aside.
- Using a small stovetop pan, turn to medium heat and add pecans. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with sea salt, stirring until toasted and caramelized (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Assemble the rest of your salad ingredients (pomegranate seeds, leafy greens, optional goat cheese).
- Once rice and pumpkin are done cooking, layer ingredients on a large platter (if serving as a side dish) or individual bowls (if making as a main). I like to layer with the forbidden rice first, followed by the leafy greens, roasted pumpkin, pomegranate seeds, pecans and goat cheese, then top/toss with the maple tahini dressing. Serve immediately. Store items individually in the fridge for up to 5 days for yummy leftovers.
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