I think one of the things I like most about the fall is the focus on simple healthy foods. The flavors that emerge this time of year are so bold and vibrant, that it’s easy to cook up recipes that require only a handful of warm, earthy ingredients. Naturally, cinnamon and other spices go into just about everything that I make, but seasonal delights like apples and winter squash pack in their own prominent flavor profiles. Lately, I’ve been pairing the two at every opportunity. Apple-stuffed squash, squash and apple pudding, and this easy Butternut Apple Bake.
Butternut Apple Bake for the Holidays or Healthy Breakfast
This recipe is one that we’ve enjoyed as a comforting breakfast treat and as a side dish for a wholesome meal. In fact, it’s perfect for Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings. Just replace that overly sugary dish of sweet potato and marshmallows with this side filled with simple healthy foods. Trust me, your taste buds will prefer the sweet and savory combination.
I’ve actually made this recipe with acorn squash, too. You can use any winter squash that you like, but butternut is easier to peel, and can also be purchased pre-cut for even quicker preparation.
You can bake the cereal sprinkle right on top of the squash bake if you like, but I prefer to cook it separately so that it stays crispy. Also, if you have any leftovers to refrigerate, I prefer to store the cereal in a separate container at room temperature to keep it nice and crunchy until served.
Special Diet Notes: Butternut Apple Bake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 4½ cups (about 1¼ lbs) peeled butternut squash chunks* (3/4-inch cubes)
- 2½ cups (about ¾ lb) apple chunks** (3/4-inch)
- ¼ to ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, divided***
- 1 tablespoon flour, any type (I used brown rice flour for gluten-free)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon + ⅛ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups organic cornflakes, brown rice cereal, or crunchy whole grain cereal
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- Place the squash and apple chunks in a 9×13-inch baking dish, and add ¼ to ⅓ cup of the sugar, 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, the flour, ¾ to 1 teaspoon of the salt, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, and stir to evenly coat. Using more sugar will add a touch more sweetness, while more salt will up the contrast and savory factor.
- Cover with foil, and place in the oven to bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until perfectly tender for your tastes.
- After you place that in the oven, place the cereal in a ziploc bag, and gently crush it with your hand to make very coarse crumbs.
- Combine the crushed cereal, remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon of salt in a bowl.
- Spread the cereal out on a baking sheet (ideally lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper) and place it in the oven with the squash bake, allowing it to cook for about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Serve the squash bake topped with the cereal sprinkle.
**I skip peeling, but you can peel for a more refined dish if desired. Remember to use good baking apples! They should remain firm even after all that time in the oven.
***You can sub the oil of your choice or dairy-free margarine for the coconut oil in a pinch, but coconut oil adds nice richness.