Back in the day, I used to cook with sugar. And flour. And butter. I’m pretty sure I even used to whip up stirfry’s with bottled sauces and brag about my “elaborate” creations that my then-fiance “devoured.” (Not sure why I feel the need to use quotation marks on the latter; I’m sure that part is true.) I’ve thought for a few brief moments about taking these things down from my blog, deleting them from my cooking history, sending them into some sort of abyss where bad blogger photos and recipes go to die. For no other reason than the fear that someone might get bored one day, scroll back to circa 2007, and discover some recipe that totally disqualifies me as a healthy food blogger and lover of clean eating.

But then again, these recipes are part of my history and perhaps I never would have started blogging without them. And besides, it’s kind of fun to see how far I’ve come, whenever I’m having one of those “food blogger fail” sort of days.

Similarly, I’m glad my now-vegetarian friend Joanne hasn’t parted ways with her carnivorous recipes. Otherwise I’d be lost on the details of this one that’s been on my mind since 2010. Yup, that’s right, while pondering “what’s for dinner?” one night I actually remembered a recipe I saw two years ago. I immediately googled, “eats well with others indian chili.” Apparently, two years ago, I promised Joanne I was going to “copy” her (read the comments, there is proof.) It only took me two years. But see? I’m a gal of my word.

And going back to that evolution thing, I know it’s a good thing I waited that long. Because whereas I might have actually just carbon-copied it back in the day, this time I knew exactly what I wanted to change to make it my own. More veggies? Check. A heftier shake of those warm, aromatic seasonings? You bet. And a swirl of creamy coconut milk to balance out the spice. Yes, please, totally. Oh, and raisins. Yep, you need some of those.

The result was something we rarely find around here: a meal that gets made twice in less than a week! Ok, ok. That was partially due to the fact that I just sorta threw it together the first time and loved it *so* much that I needed it again stat, so I could write down measurements and snap a few shots. But more because it was so good and Ben had politely informed me that I could make it any time I wanted. Thanks, babe. I’ll probably  take you up on that again soon.

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Sweet 'n Spicy Indian Chili in Winter Squash Bowls

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

A veggie-full chili laced with aromatic spices and creamy coconut milk, served in a sweet roasted squash bowl.


2 acorn squash or other round winter squash, such as buttercup or carnival, cut in half and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 lb lean ground turkey
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned organic diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 3/4 cup cooked kidney beans
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and mist with nonstick cooking spray. Place squash halves cut side-up on the baking sheet and mist with cooking spray. Roast for 50 minutes, while preparing chili.

In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions, eggplant and red pepper, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Add salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, and ground turkey. Increase heat to medium high and saute for another 5-8 minutes, stirring to break up the turkey, until turkey is browned and crumbly.

Add seasonings and stir to combine. Add diced tomatoes, water, kidney beans, and raisins and bring to a boil. Cover, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.

Uncover and stir in coconut milk. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until thickened.

Ladle the chili into acorn squash halves and sprinkle with cilantro.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories 448.0
Total Fat 12.6 g
Saturated Fat 6.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.9 g
Cholesterol 40.0 mg
Sodium 489.4 mg
Potassium 1,815.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 67.2 g
Dietary Fiber 19.0 g
Sugars 9.1 g
Protein 23.7 g

Cara Lyons,, adapted from Eats Well with Others and Monica Bhide's Modern Spice