Acorn Squash Bowl with Cranberry

Acorn squash, fresh sage, and fresh cranberries – all popular ingredients of the holiday season – come to life in this beautiful and simple dish. All three parts of this dish can be made ahead of time and then assembled and warmed through prior to serving. The quinoa mixture is also a great canvas to develop your own favorite holiday favorites. A few recommendations are listed below.


  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 ¼ cup quinoa
  • ½ bag (6 oz) fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 2 mandarin oranges, peeled + chopped
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup tart cherry juice
  • ¼ tsp beef gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • Avocado oil
  • Salt + pepper


Step 1 – Roast the squash

  • Preheat the oven to 450ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment
  • Carefully slice the pointy tips off the bottom of the acorn squash to
    create a flat surface. Then carefully slice them in half through the center. Carve out the seeds and pulp. Place face up on the baking sheet, drizzle each half with avocado oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Squash should be soft, but not falling apart.

Step 2 – Cook the quinoa mixture

  • Rinse dry quinoa in water using a fine sieve. Bring one cup water and the rinsed quinoa (plus salt if desired) to a boil in a medium sized saucepan; stir. Reduce heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered, 10 minutes for water to absorb and grains to become tender.
  • Remove the lid and fluff with a fork (do not use a spoon!). Set aside to cool.
  • In the meantime, dry roast the pine nuts and 1 tbsp of the fresh sage in a pan on medium heat, stirring constantly so the nuts do not burn. Remove from heat and mix into the quinoa mixture. Add more salt and remaining sage. Set aside.

Step 3 – Make the cranberry sauce

  • Place cranberries, mandarins, maple syrup, beef gelatin powder and
    cherry juice in a medium size saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat and allow mixture to reduce and thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, purée the mixture to a desired consistency.

Step 4 – The plating and further considerations

  • Place baked acorn squash bottom side down on a plate of your choosing. Fill the cavity with the quinoa mixture. Drizzle over the top with the cranberry mixture. Have a serving dish close by with the remaining cranberry purée! It’s a crowd favorite and most people will want extra as they eat. Serve and enjoy!
  • This dish is vegetarian and highly nutritious as it is, but browned sausage is also amazing added to the quinoa mixture!
  • I highly recommend playing with the fresh herbs as well. I love this dish with sage because I love the flavor profile that comes from simple ingredients, but feel free to swap the sage out with thyme or rosemary or bundle them altogether for some added depth of flavor.
  • Toasted almonds can also be used in place of the pine nuts and if you prefer a sweeter variety, add dried cranberries to the quinoa mixture prior to plating.

Stephanie Wharton is a Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and part of the Lending Hearts Up Street team. You can learn more about her at