Acorn Squash Salad with Pumpkin Seed Chili Dressing

Hello, new year! January can be cold and dark but it's actually one of my favorite months. A time for newintentions. (Because let's be real: "resolutions" kinda sound like fancy checklist items.) Instead of overwhelming goals, I prefer small, doable changes. The ones that have lasting effects. My intention this year is to focus on quality over quantity and carry this mantra into every aspect of my life. You know what I'm talking about: Work smarter, not harder. If it's not a hell yes, it's a hell no. And my personal favorite: You can't make everyone happy - you're not an avocado.

Acorn Squash Salad with Pumpkin Seed Chili Dressing | Gluten-free and paleo-friendly. | Loveleaf Co.
Acorn Squash Salad with Pumpkin Seed Chili Dressing | Gluten-free and paleo-friendly. | Loveleaf Co.

Speaking of food, this quality over quantity intention can have profound effects on your approach healthy eating. Here are three ways to take this intention into the kitchen, in a totally practical way:

Keep it simple.

Healthy, delicious food doesn't have to be elaborate or time-consuming. My free 7-Day Salad Reset teaches you how to throw together seven nutritious, filling meals in under 30 minutes a day. Already done the Reset? Browse these recipes for more ideas.

Aim to eat one healthy, quality meal per day.

Instead of planning and prepping a whole week's worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (read: overwhelming!) focus on getting one meal right. We like making lunch our healthiest, most energizing meal. This is a cinch with my eBook, Work Lunch Made Easy.

Treat yourself.

Make weeknight dinners feel special by using some #fancy, quality ingredients (a little goes a long way). Put on music. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Challenge yourself to try one new dinner recipe per week. Need somewhere to start? Spice up the new year with thisAcorn Squash Salad with Pumpkin Seed Chili Dressing. Read on for the recipe.

Acorn Squash Salad with Pumpkin Seed Chili Dressing | Gluten-free and paleo-friendly. | Loveleaf Co.

Acorn Squash Salad
with Pumpkin Seed Chili Dressing



  • 3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 3-5 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed (depending on heat preference, see notes)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • sea salt, to taste


  • 1 medium acorn squash, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed, torn cilantro leaves



  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the cut squash with a drizzle of olive oil, cumin, and salt and pepper. Spread the wedges evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Once the oven is preheated, roast the squash until tender and browning, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool.


  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and toast over until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.


  1. Add 3 tablespoons of the toasted pumpkin seeds and the remaining dressing ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.


  1. Arrange the squash wedges on a platter. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese, drizzle with the dressing, and garnish with remaining 1/4 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds and torn cilantro.


Dried chiles de árbol can be very spicy. Start with three and then blend and taste before adding more. If not spicy enough, incrementally add more until desired heat.