Balsamic Maple Carnival Squash with Garlicky Kale and Goat Cheese

I’m gross. I probably don’t smell good. I just got home from the gym.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find myself at the gym on a daily basis.
Being healthy or something.

All has worked out pretty well with my working out. Quality time up in the gym, just working on my fitness, can be quite enjoyable… but I cannot lie to you, Gym dear and I are not as ideal a pairing as we may seem.
It’s a bit of a love/hate relationship.

We can go ahead and get the happy healthy lifestyle PSA out the way…  real talk, I’m a spirited advocate for living active and healthy and all that sprightly jazz.
It’s the way to be.     Sprightly. Yes.

I’m all about it.

However, if we’re being totally honest… we all know you’re facing a plethora of pros and cons the second you lace up, grab your sweat towel and prance off to the gym.

P.S. we’re prancing because we’re sprightly.

Pro: You feel super fit and slim while you’re actually there. Straight up looking like Blake Lively on that elliptical.

Con: When you go home and peel away the soggy yoga pants, you get that  nasty wake up call… Blakey Blake only lives at the gym, not in your mirror.

Pro: You get to stare at hot buff dudes wearing minimal clothing.

Con: You likewise have to stare at hot chicks, who are way more buff than you will ever in your livelong days hope to be, likewise wearing next to nothing.      People really look like that?   Excuse me, what?

I’m not being sexist… if you’re a guy, just reverse the pro and con there.

Pro: You know, like for a fact, that you’ve burned out like 80% of your daily calories.  My goodness, you’re light as a feather.

Con: You’re light as a feather because you’re freaking hungry and want to go home and eat another meal.
Counterintuitve or refueling?    Uhhhh…

Pro: Watching really old people pump iron is awesome.

Con: An 80-year-old wearing shorty shorts is not so awesome.     Not in the slightest actually. 

Pro: You have an excuse to wear sweats and a baggy t-shirt out in real life all day… because obviously, you’re going to the gym later. Because you’re seriously in shape. People just can’t see how fit you are under that baggy tee… that you’re wearing… to the gym. Geeze. So fit.

Con: Completing the look requires tennis shoes. Tennis shoes are ugly.
Correction… my tennis shoes are ugly. And nappy. Cause I use them so darn  much… being incredibly fit and all.      Yo Santa…
Now, not to change the subject, but… the great thing about this here robust roasted squash tossed with savory kale and rich creamy goat cheese is that we’re looking at all pros.
Just how I like my dinner.  Con free.

Pro: This is gym people food. Vitamin/ mineral-rich, colorful, vivacious lifestyle type food.
Body happy food.

Pro: This dish is so in season. It’s hearty and flavorful, fantastically textural and fresh to death. I’m so obsessed with kale right now.
Mouth happy food.

Pro: We have here the a great side dish in and of itself, and a fantastic start to speedy soups and pasta dishes.
Schedule happy food

Pro: The recipe is easily multiplied for a larger crowd…
maybe some holiday happy food?

Pro: It’s a prime case of make me happy food 🙂  <—–Don’t laugh at my lame emoticon.
Couldn’t resist.

Balsamic Maple Carnival Squash with Garlicky Kale & Goat Cheese

  • 1 medium-size carnival squash
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch kale (about 8 cups raw), roughly chopped into strips
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F

Wash the squash. Then halve it and scoop out all seeds and pulp. Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the cubed squash with 2 Tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, thyme and salt/pepper to taste. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender, stirring once or twice.

While the squash is roasting, bring the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil to medium heat in a large pan. Add the garlic and onion. Cook until they begin to soften. Add in the kale a few handfuls at a time stirring and tossing as the kale will begin to wilt and reduce in volume. Do this until all kale has been added. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once all the kale is wilted, remove from heat.

Toss the kale with the cooked acorn squash. Sprinkle the goat cheese over top.

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