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Michigan's Winning Recipe: Super Stuffed Squash

“Ethan created this recipe specifically for this contest,” says Ethan’s mom, Shannon. “Since Ethan recently discovered he liked acorn squash and is not a big fan of the purple carrots, he decided to make the squash the star of his dish. He also knew he wanted to use one of his favorite seasonings, smoked paprika. He thought about how his ingredients would go together, brainstormed ideas with his mom and grandma, and shopped for ideas and locally available ingredients that would go with the squash and pork.” He serves his Squash with a Maple-Granola Yogurt Parfait on the side.

Ethan Yodzevicis, Age 10, is the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner from Michigan.


Makes 4 Servings


  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium sweet apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Dash of cayenne, salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • Chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a large baking sheet, place the squash in the oven for 30 minutes, remove, cut in half and remove and discard the seeds. (Cooking it whole makes it much easier and safer to cut in half.) Put squash, cut-side down, back on the baking sheet with ¼ cup water, for another 20 minutes or until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, bring the water and the rice to a boil on medium-high heat, about 4 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until tender and liquid has been absorbed.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, warm 3 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the pork. Cook until lightly browned, about 6 minutes, then add onions, garlic, apples, smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook another 6 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add the brown rice, mix well.
  4. When squash is done, turn cut-side up in the baking dish. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the center of each squash half and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the meat and rice mixture amongst the four squashes and fill the centers. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve. (If your squashes are big, you may want to cut into quarters to serve.)

631 calories 30g fat 66g carbohydrates 26g protein