Acorn squash stuffed with pancetta, quinoa and walnuts

Acorn squash stuffed with pancetta, quinoa and walnuts

We are thrilled to be taking part of Food Day with the rest of the Back Burner gang. Not familiar with Food Day? No worries, we weren’t until recently. Food Day is an annual event (October 24) that was started in 2011 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI is basically run by food-minded individuals who want to make a difference. On October 24 they will address issues such as health, hunger, farm worker justice, animal welfare and agricultural policy with the hopes of improving our nation’s food policies.  Pretty cool, isn’t it?

I have talked with my doctor at great length about how the foods that make up the American diet are actually contributing to higher risks of heart attacks, infertility, strokes, diabetes and cancer. In addition, the way our food is being produced is harmful to the farm, the workers and the animals. Our system is all about producing cheap food that’s full of sugar and salt, fatty factory farmed meat and over-processed food materials.nTasty ….

It is time to make a difference. We make a conscience effort when we buy our groceries as well as when we eat out. We don’t do fast food but do eat at places that are also trying to make a difference. I ask our butcher where our meat products come from and only buy from ranches that practice humanely. I try to hit the farmer’s markets, but when I can’t, I shop as local as I can at the market.  And we eat seasonally.

Now, we are not perfect and I would never claim that we are 100% locavores. We do have a few guilty pleasures that are not home-grown, such as Asian flavors that we love, European wines and cheeses, as well as other dry ingredients such as pastas and grains. Overall, we do know where our fresh produce, meat and fish comes from. It is a small difference that we can make in hopefully making a difference in our world and the way we eat.

I apologize if you were expecting a meat-heavy recipe this week. I decided to make something on the lighter side for Food Day. I purchased some gorgeous acorn squash and made a stuffing of quinoa, fresh sage, walnuts and pancetta. For this recipe I used locally cured pancetta from Fra’Mani.

Fra’Mani is located in Berkeley and they make amazing salumi products by using traditional Italian practices but using humanely raised pigs. Their pork is from family famers who are committed to the wellbeing of their animals and their land. The hogs are never given antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, meat-by products or growth-promoting agents. They eat only the finest grains and natural feed. Very old-fashioned and very delicious.  In addition to using a really great pork product, I used sage that we grow ourselves, and California walnuts. This recipe is great on its own or as a side dish. We enjoyed it with a big green salad that was full of greens, apples and pomegranates.

We want each of you to remember that no matter what you do, no matter how large or small the feat is, as long as you do something, it helps make a difference. Want to really get involved? Find out how.

Happy Food Day.


Denise believes anything can be made at home as long as you have a little patience, and time.  All of her recipes are made using fresh and seasonal ingredients.  Her recipes have been featured on Eat Boutiquethe Mushroom ChannelSaveur.comFoodies of the WorldPBS and Fine Cooking.  

She, also creates the recipes on the popular food blog Chez Us.  Saveur has featured Chez Us as one of 50 Food Blogs You Should Be Reading as well as one of the Sites They Love.  Be sure to read more about what they are cooking up over at Chez Us.




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