Finding My Happy Place and a Quick Meatless Monday Meal: Winter Acorn Squash

5-mile run path in Atlanta

The picture above is from a 5-mile run I went on with my friend and husband over the weekend. My friend had found this hidden gem of a path inside Atlanta. I couldn’t believe that we were still in the city. The trail was sprinkled with the leftover snow and the lake was serene, still frozen in some spots. Taking a deep breath in, I appreciated the beauty around me. This run reminded me of one I went on last summer.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and I was running with the same duo as this past weekend. We were running through downtown Decatur, finishing off the last mile of a 6-mile run. Sunday mornings are always quiet around Atlanta, one of the many reasons I love running at this time. I get to see a side of the city that not many have the chance to appreciate. As we were passing through town, I noticed that there were congregants piling out of a church after service. They were all smiling, hugging one another. We passed another church with music blasting out the doors, which made me picture people singing in their Sunday best. While passing 6 churches within this 6-mile radius, I was reminded of something on that magnificent summer morning. Running is my sanctuary, a time where my spirituality thrives. I take anything that’s eating me up inside – any negativity, doubt and hatred – and I clear my mind by putting one foot in front of the other. I open my heart and let go every time my shoes hit the pavement. In the book “Eat and Run,” author and ultrarunner Scott Jurek hits the nail on the head by saying, “[Running] had turned into a kind of meditation, a place where I could let my mind – usually occupied with school, thoughts of the future, or concerns about my mom – float free.” Running is where I find my happy place.

Even though I do my long runs on the weekend, I typically do at least one short run during the week after work. Exercising after work always leaves little-to-no time to make dinner. On nights like these, my husband and I either eat leftovers or we make something that is so easy that we barely have to think about it. This quinoa and bean stuffed acorn squash paired with roasted veggies, makes a super quick and delicious meal (here are some other acorn squash meals I’ve posted).

I’d love to know, where do you find your happy place? And, what’s your favorite quick meal to make on a busy night?

Winter Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Winter Acorn Squash 


  • 1/2 cup quinoa, dry and uncooked
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 acorn squash, cut in half with seeds removed
  • 1 heaping cup of baby spinach
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder and Bragg’s organic sprinkle
  • 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts


  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until all water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, cover the acorn squash with plastic wrap with the cut sides up. Cook in microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooked, add spinach, mushrooms, beans, spices, balsamic vinegar and walnuts. Heat until it’s warm throughout.
  4. Once the acorn squash is cooked, scoop the quinoa mixture into the acorn squash. Serve warm.

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