Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad


Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad features tender Israeli couscous, velvety sweet butternut squash, spinach, and salty feta cheese, and comes together in minutes!


Last night I was feeling stressed to the max.

Stacks of paper on the counter begged to be organized, sock fuzz littering the hallway demanded to be swept, piles of laundry pleaded to be washed – I’m sure you’re all too familiar. The fact that it was pitch black by 5:30pm tipped the scales in insanity’s favor, sending me straight into a stress-induced tizzy.

I do my best to put my nose to the grindstone everyday, but it’s inevitable that once in awhile my list of to-dos outweighs the time I have to do ’em. When that happens it’s important to have productive, positive ways to deal with the situation. Here are 10 ways I deal with stress:

1. Ask for help. Ain’t no shame in asking your spouse/partner/family for assistance. I’ve found that it helps to explain that I’m feeling overwhelmed and need help, rather than just asking Ben “Can you empty the dishwasher?”

2. Make a list. Write down a list of all the things you have to do, with a starting and ending time associated with each item. Example: 7:30-7:45pm: pay bills, 7:45-8:15pm: sort and file mail, etc.

3. Prioritize. Identify the items that will not bring your world crashing down if they don’t get accomplished that day, and those that will. Tackle the most critical items first.

4. Walk away. Literally remove yourself from the situation and chill out for 10 minutes. Clear your head, then return.

5. Assist your future self. Sort mail as you receive it, dust/vacuum one room a day so you don’t have to clean the whole house at once, straighten up rooms when you leave them, prep meals on Sunday so cooking dinner doesn’t take as much time during busy weeknights.

6. Hug it out. Hugging for 20 seconds or more has been found to increase the happy hormone oxytocin, and decrease cortisol, a stress hormone. I heart hugs.

7. Work it out. Go for a walk, run or take 20 minutes to do a free yoga routine.

8. Look at the big picture. Step back and look at the big picture. I have a job, roof over my head, food on my table, and a family that loves me. Unfortunately many people around the world don’t. Thinking about that usually brings me back to reality real quick.

9. Laugh. I got this hilarious email from my sister-in-law last night which, while reading, totally took my mind off the mountain of to-dos I needed to get done!

****** 20 ADULT TRUTHS ******

  1. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
  3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
  4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
  5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
  7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  8. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind-of tired.
  9. Bad decisions make good stories.
  10. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
  11. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.
  12. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  13. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  14. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  15. I disagree with Kay Jewelers; I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.
  16. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  17. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?
  18. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
  19. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
  20. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

10. When all else fails…avoid. Laundry, bills and sock fuzz will still be there in the morning. Sometimes turning a blind eye to responsibility (if you can!) with an evening of trashy television, warm Apple Cinnamon Crisp with vanilla ice cream, and a cough 9pm bedtime cough, is just what the doctor ordered. :)

Although I usually choose avoidance as a last resort, last night’s less stress evening left me feeling better today, and in between scoops of ice cream and the ridiculous, never ending plotline of Blair & Prince Louie’s looming wedding, I outlined everything I need to accomplish today in a list. It’s long, my friends, but lists make me happy.

Hey, that would make a good t-shirt… ;)

The new 30 Minute Reverse Countdown Treadmill Routine I tried out at the gym today also helped:

Time Speed
0-1 4.0
1-2 6.5
2-3 6.6
3-4 6.7
4-5 6.8
5-6 6.9
6-7 7.0
7-8 7.1
8-9 7.2
9-10 7.3
10-11 7.4
11-12 7.5
12-13 7.6
13-14 7.7
14-15 7.8
15-16 7.9
17-31 Go down .1 mph every minute, starting with 7.9 and ending with 6.5.
31-32 4.0
Total: 3.75

A 1 minute warm up/cool down on either end took me right to 3.75 miles in under 33 minutes. Quick & dirty, yo! :)

Thankfully I also had enough sense last night to lay out the stuff I needed to make tonight’s dinner, so my Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad came together in pretty much a jiffy after the gym.

Tender Israeli couscous mingles with salty feta cheese, chewy dried cranberries and sweet maple roasted butternut squash in this easy, toss together dinner salad.


Seriously, it was so easy!


Start by tossing cubed butternut squash with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and salt & pepper.


Roast on high ’til it’s golden brown and crusty.


Meanwhile, mix together red onion, walnuts, feta cheese and baby spinach.

DSC_0216 DSC_0218

DSC_0219 DSC_0222

Toss with hot, cooked Israeli couscous.


Ok, I lied – this is actually a blend of Israeli couscous I got form Trader Joe’s.


It’s got the cous, baby garbanzo beans (didn’t even know those existed – whee!) and red quinoa. I cooked it in chicken broth so it’d have extra flavah.


Toss in dried cranberries at the last minute before plating the salad up, and sprinkling a little more feta on top.


Because, as you know, feta makes everything’s betta! ;)


Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Serves 4


Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad features tender Israeli couscous, velvety sweet butternut squash, spinach, and salty feta cheese, and comes together in minutes!


  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded & diced into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous, farro, or other small pasta/grain cooked in chicken broth
  • 3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese + more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss butternut squash with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and salt & pepper. Spread on a foil-lined, non-stick sprayed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Toss then roast for 12-15 more minutes, or until squash is golden brown.
  2. Combine hot, roasted squash with remaining ingredients, season with ore salt & pepper and serve.


Slightly adapted from Closet Cooking

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


The textures and sweet, fall flavors in this dish were intense!


Plus, Ben won’t touch this with a ten foot pole, so I get all the leftovers for lunch this week – score!


Ok, with a full belly and zen mind (ohm) I am off to tackle my to-dos. Wish me luck! ;)


What are the biggest causes of stress in your life? How do you deal with it?

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  1. Amy 11.08.2011


    Glad you took some time for reflection-realization-etc. You need time off from regular scheduled stuff………….we all do! You are so fun to read about, recipes, life, so……………..glad you are doing this blog………………but, keep yourself as a high priority!!!! :)

  2. Ahahahahaa. I literally LOL’d at that list because it is SO TRUE

  3. Jenna 11.08.2011

    I was at a CPA conference a couple of weeks ago and our closing seminar was from a Gynocologis (who’da thunk?!) to teach us how to “tame the 25 hour day.” She was hilarious and brought up several good points on how to reduce stress, stay on track, and get things accomplished. Among the helpful hints, she gave us a few websites to help us out. Wunderlist, Remember the Milk, and Toodledo were her recommendation. I’ve since started using Wunderlist and find it very helpful.

    If you want to learn more about her she gave us her website:

  4. Amanda 11.08.2011

    I definitely get the most stressed out about the “to-do’s” in my life. Work stresses me out, but if I come home to a messy house/dirty laundry/empty fridge, I get so frazzled!! I just have to remind myself that I still have something to wear, can order take out if needed, and live with a little extra dust. Can’t always be superwoman :)

  5. Nancy 11.08.2011

    Glad you’re ok and took some much needed time to chill and catch up with yourself–and adjust to the time change too. Best!

  6. Life get’s crazy doesn’t it! My biggest stress is trying to do it all as well. Spend enough time with my hubby, two beautiful girls, work, house etc…


    Sometimes..(many times) I pour myself a nice glass of wine, and that helps. :) A bubble bath and a great book/magazine is good too!

  7. israeli cous cous is one of my favorite grains — and i have a bag of that harvest blend in my pantry just begging to be used!

    thanks for the stress tips — very much needed, especially today.

  8. erica 11.08.2011

    i get stressed when everything piles on at once (which is usually always the case) weeks of lounging around then BOOM! heaps of “to-dos” and responsibilities and obligations.

    that list cracked me up! hilarious.
    and i must get that trader joes blend!

  9. Lindsay 11.08.2011

    I absolutely LOVE the adulth truths. And they are all so true. Especially the folding of the sheet….ugh! Oh, and what is your final conclusion about Once Upon A Time? Yay or Nay? I watched the first one, and haven’t watched it since so I don’t know if it’s worth picking back up or not!

  10. love the list. this post made me decide to procrastinate a little longer…

    that dinner looks bomb! I’m going to make it next week!

  11. OH my goodness this list is awesome. Like every single one is so true! Number 5 made me LOL. I have no freaking clue how to fold a fitted sheet and I am 29 yrs old!

  12. C. 11.08.2011

    Yum, I’m going to have to pick up some of that Israeli stuff, I haven’t seen it at TJ’s before. Looks good!

  13. Tori 11.08.2011

    Bahahhaa I was seriously cracking up reading your Truths, because I agree with ALL of them! Especially: 1,4, 7, 17,18,19. Too funny. Thank you for making my day a little better! :)


  14. Couldn’t agree more with that list…3pm rolls around and I’m like “Well, I’m done for the day.” Ha!

  15. Nicole 11.08.2011

    I have been reading your blog for a little over a year and love it because despite living in Portland I grew up as a Midwest girl and love your Midwest Iowa love:) I had a terrible day today and your 20 adult truth put it all in perspective. My husband and I had some great laughs and nods of agreements.

  16. Kier 11.08.2011

    Two things: #20 is awesome. And baby chickpeas?! I die. Need to get some ASAP.

  17. Lindsey 11.08.2011

    I just get overwhelmed easily when work and life gets busy, and because I am a perfectionist it doesn’t help that little things like dusty furniture bothers me! I LOVE lists and prioritizing things too, it makes life so much easier and just writing a simple list can help me reduce the stress by a lot! And after a long day at work though I might just want to lay on the couch, a good workout always leaves me feeling 100 times better!
    PS Love that TJs Harvest Grains! We had it with Mmmm Sauce from
    Peas and Thank You last night :)

  18. Karla 11.08.2011

    Thank you for the hilarious list of adult truths and great stress-busting tricks! And I would be SO in if that list shirt existed. I live by my lists so much, it’s a little outrageous! :) Glad to hear today was better for you, Kristin!

  19. I just made couscous for the first time last week. Love it but I’m super jealous of the mix you got from Trader Joe’s. We don’t have one close but it looks so darn good!

  20. I love your stress tips. I’m a huge list maker (and definitely time everything out). Sometimes I wonder if it makes me more stressed though. I’m trying to drink more tea, say more prayers and ask for help more these days.

  21. Storm 11.08.2011

    I SO need these stress busting tips like RIGHT NOW.
    Thank you :)

  22. Allyson Jo 11.08.2011

    I totally needed these stress tips! I have recently just started a new job and training and everything is driving me crazy!

  23. Hope 11.09.2011

    I love this list! It definitely added some humor to my morning! :)

    Your dinner looks delicious! I’ve never seen that couscous blend at TJ. I’m going to have to look for it the next time I go there. I don’t think my fiance would be interested in this dish either. Looks like I’ll have to make it a night when he is not eating dinner at home ;)

  24. WendyG 11.09.2011

    I would TOTALLY wear a shirt that says, “Lists make me happy!!!!” I also REALLY want the “I heart Sweat” shirt that CNC wears!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Elyse 11.09.2011

    Thanks for the stress tips! Those will come in handy with holiday season right around the corner for sure! Speaking of maple I have a question for you. My boyfriend recently went to Canada for work and brought home a bottle of the REALLY good maple syrup. It seems too fancy to use on a stack of pancakes, so I was curious if you had any recipe ideas I could use it with for something extra special? Thanks so much!

  26. Selin 11.09.2011

    Just a little help for #5 of Adult Truths. Check this video out :

  27. Jen 11.09.2011

    The 20 Adult Truths made me laugh, becuase most of them are sooo true.

    Your treadmill workout looks like a good one, I might need to steal that. I’ve been looking for some good treadmill routines!

  28. Iowamom 11.09.2011

    Love the adult truths list! My stress is laundry. I do a load or two every day and then I feel better. It piles up so quickly with three kids and two adults. I also repeat “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” to myself often. I tell my kids the same thing……..puts it all in perspective!

  29. Allison 11.09.2011

    I have a lot of stress in my life and find it difficult to accomplish everything that needs to get done. I have finally arrived at the conclusion that sometimes I just have to LET GO a little. My house is not immaculate all the time. (Oh wait, actually it never is.) I do not cook a healthy, balanced dinner every night. Sometimes people have to wait a day or two for me to return their messages. I am ok with imperfection; I learned I had to be ok with it to maintain sanity!!

  30. Laurie 11.09.2011

    20 Adult Truths are the best! Thanks for the laugh and the lesson that I’m not alone in most things.

  31. So needed this post today. Thank you so much Kristin. Love the 20 Adult Truths…made me laugh!

  32. Oh my gosh, those truths are SO true! (not to be Captain Obvious- haha!) but they’re right. I remember my mom used to get onto my for washing my pants after every wear…but now they go weeks without being washed.

  33. C 11.09.2011

    Your “Adult Truths” are almost all from You should give credit. Your recipe looks great though!

    • C+ 11.09.2011

      It’s also an email forward. Should she cite “email” as well? That’s not the point. She’s not taking credit for them, you dope. She’s sharing them. Big difference.

      • C 11.10.2011

        My apologies. I skimmed over the part where she said she read them in an email on my way down to the recipe. I only noticed them at all because my friend wrote a couple. On the bright side, at least now credit can be given and you know where to go for more witty remarks about life. : )

  34. This post really helped me – thank you so much for those tips on stressing less! That prioritize one really rung true for me, and as soon as I read it I switched screens to my gmail and took literally a couple of minutes to send an important email that’s been hanging over my head…and now I feel so much better, and less stressed! :-D xyx

  35. Katie 11.09.2011

    My six year old daughter picked out that grains blend at TJs on Saturday and we ate it with roasted acorn squash, brussels sprouts and a slow cooker chicken and apples with mustard/apple cider sauce last night, yum! Thanks for the list of “Adult Truths”, #8 is so true especially this time of year when it starts getting cold and dark early here in Nebraska. Also, I hate washing jeans and other pants because I always feel like I have to stretch them out when I put them on! Thanks for keeping things real and honest with this post, it’s certainly okay to put the to do list aside for 10 minutes of more and relax. As women we need to remember to take care of ourselves!

  36. Great post! Loved the adult truths – they are all spot on!

  37. Lori 11.09.2011

    This looked so good I came home and made it tonight for supper, with a few substitutions. I sauteed the squash and I used some swiss chard that I had cooked and frozen from my garden in place of the fresh spinach. I added some chopped avocado and left out the nuts and maple syrup, but the balsamic vinegar is KEY in this wonderful creation. THANK YOU for this wonderful idea!

  38. KellyK 11.10.2011

    I love your list! While you probably were really stressed out to make that list, I found I could totally relate. I am a list girl myself, and yup dishes, laundry and mail are always at some point in the week backed up. But your list cracked me up. Pants never get dirty…cars keeping out the line jumper…I enjoyed the list. A good dash of humor never hurts!

  39. VeggieGirl 11.10.2011

    I laughed at a lot of points on the list, especially “I will take back all those times I didnt want to nap” God I wish we could still nap during the day (I envy companies with special sleep pods with soothing music, where employees can catch a quick 20 minute recharge on their breaks!!)

    I was stressed last night too, coming home after a long day of work and class. I did what you do- just ignore everything that isnt urgent (dishes/house cleaning) took a long hot bath and went to bed!

  40. ha love that list..couldn’t agree more with the one about not being able to remember not being kind of tired! so true!!

    i hear you on the stressful life thing…i’ve found it comes in waves though and often a period of less stress follows the craziness…which is much appreciated! i try to remember this when i’m about to go nuts!

  41. Angie 11.11.2011

    Great pointers! Those 20 truths are so…true. Ack, the fitted sheet gets to me every time!

  42. nicole 11.12.2011

    Adult Truths… #19… so true! ha!

  43. Alyssa 11.13.2011

    I love the list of 20 Adult Truths! They are all true and now I don’t feel so embarrassed about myself, since I know there is at least one other person who keeps phone numbers of people they don’t like in their phone list so I can know when to ignore the call!

  44. […] The “20 Adult Truths” posted over at IowaGirlEats. I don’t think learning cursive was necessary, […]

  45. Lisa 02.26.2012

    This recipe was delicious! I found your blog on piniterest, I enjoy reading your blog and trying the recipes. Thanks so much for sharing.

  46. Canberra 03.30.2012

    Mouth watering food. I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I came across this during my search for something relating to this.

  47. Kate Moore 09.06.2012

    This was delicious! We had a few butternut squash from our CSA box and were wanting something simple and relatively healthy after a weekend road trip (fast food, ugh!) and this fit the bill. We did leave out the onion because neither of us is a fan of it raw, but it was fabulous anyway! Thanks for another winner :)

  48. Nicole Kiefer 04.09.2013

    so true! i’m definitely trying this recipe tomorrow when my friend comes by to watch movies. glad, that i have time for that now. last year was crazy, i was so stressed out – couldn’t even remember my name. one day my friend told me about a website, where you have listings of professional coaches in different categories. once you found someone you can even communicate with them directly over the page. to me they all seemed willing to help. in case you want to just talk about your problems with someone professional. it’s up to you. i was so impressed that i didn’t want to hide this from you ;)

  49. Heather 09.30.2013

    Hi Kristin! I just had to comment on this recipe. I follow your blog religiously and am always so excited when you post something new (baby or otherwise, man is he a cutie!). But yesterday I was looking for something to use my butternut squash that has been haunting my counter for a while and I went back into your archives and found this recipe. OH MY GOODNESS. I practically licked the plate! Thanks for always sharing such good, easy recipes!

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