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I was patting myself on the back for this tasty stew all day long. Tasty? Oh my, yes. Healthy? You better believe it. Aroma? I’d say it gets a “15” on a scale of 1 to 10. This recipe formed in my head slowly, starting with some chicken thighs sitting in the fridge. Then I picked up a butternut squash at the grocery store, with the thought of making soup. Instead, I cubed and steamed the squash, mashing half of it to help thicken the stew. In went the quinoa, one of my favorite grains, for an extra punch of protein and fiber. The topper was a kick of briny flavor from some kalamata olives and a burst of freshness from a handful of chopped parsley. While low in calories and fat, a bowlful of this hearty stew easily satisfied my craving for comfort food. Also, butternut squash is high in Vitamins A and C, as well as fiber, so I knew I was getting a well-rounded meal to keep my body healthy for my daily workouts. One can not keep up with a high-energy “power pump” instructor without some decent fuel from which to draw. Seriously, this woman makes the Energizer bunny look like a total slacker. And she has about a dozen grandkids! Inspirational? Yeah, I’d say so. This stew can be made in advance, but you may need to add a little more chicken broth before serving because the quinoa will expand as it sits. Either way, the flavors and textures are fantastic and it is sure to become a cold-weather favorite.
Steam the butternut squash until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Remove half of the squash pieces and set aside.
Steam the remaining squash until very tender, an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Mash this squash with the back of a fork. Set aside.
In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer.
Add chicken thighs, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and allow to cool. Pour broth into a medium-sized bowl.
Return the saucepan to the stovetop and lower heat to medium. Add olive oil.
Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add minced garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.
To the saucepan, add tomatoes, butternut squash pieces, mashed butternut squash. Stir to combine.
Stir in reserved chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes.
Shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork.
Stir the chicken, olives and pepper into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes.
Stir in parsley and serve.
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