About this recipe
Talk about a cozy meal: these Acorn Squash Fajita Bowls are not just a beautiful, color-rich way to serve dinner, but they are super healthy, too! Full of protein, veggies, with the bonus of squash being a slow-burning carb, this meal is sure to satisfy that comfort food craving while keeping your supper thyroid-friendly.
Looks fancy. Roasts easy!
Acorn Squash Fajita Bowls may appear to be a complicated or lengthy meal to pull off, but no fear— everything is cooked on the same sheet pan! With just a few tips, you'll be serving this impressive dish in no time.
Step 1: Marinate the fajita chicken.
What's great about this marinade is that lime juice works quickly to flavor the sliced chicken pieces. The acidity of the lime juice swiftly tenderizes the meat so that it cooks up super tender and juicy!
With the Autoimmune Protocol-compliant blend of oregano, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and cilantro, you won't even miss the seed-based spices (like cumin) or nightshade spices (like chili powder) that are commonly used in traditional fajita or taco seasoning.
Sometimes those store-bought spice blends can contain hidden sugar, corn, gluten, MSG, and other thyroid-disruptive ingredients— yikes!— so we don't even know that we are consuming them. In addition to making your own easy seasoning blends, one of the best things you can do for your thyroid and gut health is to become a total label-reading renegade! Turn that package over and take a really good look at what other ingredients are in there than just food. You'd be surprised at what is lurking in the foods we have been eating regularly.
Step 2: Prep your veggies.
While your chicken is making magic flavor mojo in your fridge, this is the perfect time to get to prepping those veggies for the stuffing.
Get your oven good and hot. 425 F is a temperature that creates a delicious, golden-brown caramelization on meats and veggies, but without being so hot that you have to worry about your food burning before it's fully cooked.
Slice open the acorn squash into halves and ignore the seeds for now. It's much easier to scoop them out after the squash has cooked because the flesh will be tender and soft, loosening the seeds in the cooking process. Unless you feel like using some elbow grease - then go right ahead and scoop them out while the squash is raw! Either way, the squash will cook up beautifully.
Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper if you like, then place the squash on it. Drizzle the squash with avocado oil (excellent for higher heat cooking), and sprinkle it with salt. Roast it until it is caramelized and tender.
While the squash is baking, use this time to slice your mushrooms (or used pre-sliced mushrooms), slice your avocados and olives, dice the radishes, chop the remaining cilantro, and slice the lime wedges. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over the avocado to prevent oxidation/browning if you will not eat this meal until later. Keep these in the fridge until ready to serve.
Step 3: Broil the chicken, stuff the squash, and garnish.
Once the squash cooks and you've scooped out the seeds, it's time to remove the parchment from the pan and set your oven to broil.
Add your marinated chicken and the mushrooms to the sheet pan, broil until cooked through, and your kitchen smells like fajitas! Stuff the squash with the chicken mixture and garnishes, and enjoy!
Thyroid health benefits in these Acorn Squash Fajita Bowls:
Rich in antioxidants and nutrients, winter squash also contains slow-burning carbs due to their high fiber content. This means that this type of carbohydrate is less likely to spike your blood sugar.
Full of healthy fats and vitamins, avocados can help you feel full for longer due to their soluble and insoluble fiber content— which also feed the gut's beneficial bacteria. No wonder they call this wonder fruit "green gold!"
Mushrooms are a bounty of the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin are found in mushrooms, making them excellent for the digestive system and maintaining glowing skin.
As a side note, talk to your doctor about whether you should temporarily avoid certain mushrooms if you have a diagnosis or signs of candida / SIBO. The good news is that oyster, shimeji, and beech mushrooms are considered low-FODMAP and may not cause issues in those with candida or SIBO!
Not only does cilantro add a ton of flavor to meals, sauces, and smoothies, this common herb is excellent for supporting the liver since it is high in chlorophyll. In higher amounts, cilantro can be used as a chelation herb to detoxify from heavy metal exposure. (Of course, be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning a chelation protocol).
A note about nutritional yeast:
Many brands of nutritional yeast (a dairy-free, cheesy-flavored powder) contain synthetic or non-methylated B vitamins. Not only can synthetic vitamins play a negative role in thyroid and autoimmune health, but they are also especially triggering for methylation problems in those who have MTHFR gene mutations. So, when shopping for nutritional yeast to satisfy your dairy-free cheese hankering, be sure to source brands that are non-fortified. Two of our favorites are Foods Alive and Frontier's non-fortified versions.
Acorn squash fajita bowls recipe
Skip the nightshades and the grains with these fun and simple fajita bowls full of Southwest flavors! Compliant with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Serves 4.
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp avocado oil
- 2 small acorn squash (about 2 pounds)
- Himalayan salt, to taste
- 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
- Himalayan salt, to taste
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- 2 medium avocados, sliced
- 4 radishes, diced
- Kalamata olives, sliced
- 4 tsp nutritional yeast, non-fortified
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges then halved
- Add onion, chicken, lime juice, seasonings, and 1/2 bunch of cilantro to a medium storage container or a plastic bag, and mix well. Marinate in the fridge while you prepare squash.
- Place oven rack in center oven. Preheat it to 425 F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper if desired, and drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.
- Cut squashes in half lengthwise. Place flesh sides down on a sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then use tongs to flip carefully. Squash is done when the fork goes through the flesh easily. If not tender, cook 5-10 minutes more at a time and test again.
- Sprinkle flesh with salt. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, then scoop out and discard seeds with a spoon.
- While cooling, cook the marinated Fajita Chicken. Set the oven to broil at 400 F. Remove parchment from the sheet pan and line with foil if desired (parchment will burn under the broiler).
- Add chicken in a single layer in the center of the pan. Arrange onions on top. Scatter mushrooms around edges and sprinkle with salt to taste. Drizzle everything with 1 Tablespoon oil.
- Broil for 30 minutes or until lightly caramelized, then rotate the pan and cook 10 to 20 minutes more until onions are very slightly blackened on the tips, and chicken is cooked through.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer chicken onto a cutting board and slice into strips.
- To serve, layer chicken, avocados, radishes, and olives on top of squash "bowls." Garnish with yeast, cilantro, and lime wedges.