Simply Healthy Family: Apple Cider-Squash Penne with Swiss Chard, Toasted Walnuts and White Balsamic Cranberry Grilled Chicken.


Apple Cider-Squash Penne with Swiss Chard, Toasted Walnuts and White Balsamic Cranberry Grilled Chicken.

It's been unusually cold and rainy here in Phoenix. Enough so that we had to dig through our closets and find our thick, cozy sweaters and dust them off accordingly. Even thought it has been in the low 40's when I wake up and head to work around 6 a.m. I still feel a bit silly piling on my mismatched layers of sweaters and jackets. It doesn't help that the only pair of mittens I own are both left handed. Odd.  and the only scarf I own is way dated and thread bear. I have to wrap it tightly around my neck several times to keep warm, which isn't easy to do wearing 2 left handed mittens.

So needless to say, I have been on a bit of a soup binge for the last couple of weeks. I love soup and have to get my fill before the temperatures jump to 80 next week. True story. Love Phoenix.

 I have the only kids in the Universe who aren't fans of spaghetti and meatballs. Maybe if I used a sugary pasta sauce instead of a home made marinara? 

They did love this pasta that I whipped up using one of the many boxes of healthy pasta that Barilla was kind enough to send me. This one is a "White Fiber" pasta and I dolled it up by roasting an  squash  and then blending it up with some apple cider. 
Just sweet enough to be a yummy dinner that everyone liked.

image source

Prep time     20 minutes           Cook time    50 minutes       Serves    6 
Ingredients:1 package Barilla White Fiber Penne Pasta1 small acorn or butternut squash2 chicken breasts1 small bunch Swiss or rainbow chard (preferably Organic)1 handful walnuts, chopped1 apple (Fuji, Macintosh, gala) diced1 cup apple cider or juice1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar divided. (I used a white balsamic-cranberry)1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil divided1 teaspoon saltfreshly cracked pepper to taste (I used white pepper)

Putting it all together: 

Preheat oven to 400F. 
 Using a sharp paring knife, cut skin off of squash. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and strings.  Cut into 1 inch pieces and place on grill pan  Bake at 400F for 30 minutes until a fork pierces flesh easily and squash is browned. Remove from oven, set aside to let cool slightly.
Cut chicken into thin strips. Place in small bowl and add 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon oil and a dash of cracked pepper.  Grill for 5-7 minutes on a hot grill pan, turning once. Remove, set aside. 
Meanwhile, wash chard and remove stems. Chop stems into 1/2 inch pieces, set aside. Chop leaves of chard into small pieces.  In a hot skillet add 1 tablespoon oil. Add chard stems, cook 2 minutes. Add leaves, cook 5 more minutes stirring occasionally. Add chopped apples. Cook 3-5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, toss to coat.  Cover and remove from heat. 
Cook pasta according to package directions. 
Place half of the cooked squash in a blender. Add apple cider, broth and salt. Blend till smooth and creamy adjusting liquid to desired consistency.  Drain pasta. Return to pot, turn off heat. Add squash mixture, toss to coat. Add chard, apple and squash pieces to pasta, toss to combine. 

Top with chicken.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Pasta can be a great source of good carbohydrates to fuel your body for exercise. When I make pasta I like to add lots of veggies, fruits and healthy toppings like nuts and good cheeses such as
 Romano and Parmesan. 

Barilla sent me a nice variety of their healthy pastas. I've cooked with Barilla Plus a few times before in my Pasta with White Clam Sauce.   They are offering to send a box full of a variety of their healthy pastas and an apron to TWO lucky Simply Healthy Family readers.

Barilla Pasta is a nutrient-rich, complex carbohydrate that is a good source of thiamin, folic acid, iron, riboflavin and niacin. It’s low in sodium and naturally cholesterol free.
Barilla PLUS offers a taste, color and texture as good as traditional Barilla pastas, and is a good source of protein, ALA omega-3 and fiber. It delivers 44 percent more protein and almost twice as much fiber than traditional pasta.

This time around I used the White Fiber pasta which they claim tastes just like regular pasta but with 3 X's the fiber and provides 30% of the DRV for whole grains all from natural ingredients.  Our family loved it!

With Barilla White Fiber, eating well can be fun for the whole family. Available in
three varieties, Mini Rotini, Mini Shells and Mini Penne, Barilla White Fiber looks
and tastes just like regular pasta, letting your whole family enjoy their favorite pasta
meals, while also providing them with a hidden boost of the fiber and whole grains
they need.

In order to win:

Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite healthy pasta dish is.

Not required to win, but greatly appreciated:
Follow Simply Healthy Family by signing up to recieving healthy recipes by email or adding Simply Healthy Family to your favorite reader or following me on GooglePlus.

TWO winners will be chosen at random on Thursday, January 31st. Winners will be notified by email so make sure you leave a valid email address in your comment.

One extra entry by Pinning an image from this post. Leave me a link so I can follow you!



  1. I love a carrot pasta, with grilled chicken, and a homemade sauce. YUM!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win.


  2. My favourite pasta recipe is very simple whole wheat pasta, with low salt canned tomatoes sprinkled with parmesan and fresh ground pepper.

  3. Funny, I'd love for it to be in the 40's here in Chicago area all winter. In 60's tomorrow---unheard of in January--and back to 15 degrees Wednesday. crazy!!! I wandered--anyway, your dish sounds and looks delicious and I want to try it.

  4. Barilla...that's my favoruite pasta brand. Your pasta looks wholesome with chard.

  5. It has been the opposite here in Dallas, weather-wise, and I am so sad that it has been in the 70's this week. Fingers crossed that we both get our desired weather back ASAP.

    This dish looks fabulous! And my favorite healthy pasta dish is definitely those turkey meatballs with spaghetti. It's delicious... the key for me is just to not eat it all in one sitting. I'm embarrassed to say that between my husband and I, we have polished off all those meatballs in no time. ;)

  6. We always use Barilla Plus. My favorite is Penne with Turkey Sausage and a roasted red pepper sauce. Yum!

    BTW, love this recipe especially the swiss chard.

  7. I love pasta with olive oil, italian seasoning, and chicken! yum!

  8. I love taking spaghetti noodles, roasted cherry tomatoes, olive oil and parmesan cheese and tossing together. Delicious! Tammy ~

  9. I pinned it here:

  10. We love Barilla Plus around here! My kiddos don't like spag & meatballs either!!! Isn't that funny? But, they love pasta with garlic, olive oil and a little parm. It's simple and yummy! Great giveaway!!


    Pinned it :)

  12. We love Barilla and I am loving this pasta dish!

  13. I like Barilla (and this recipe) and also enjoy getting fresh pasta from the Farmer's Market. Toss with olive oil and Parmesan. Add spices and sundried tomatoes (Not the kind soaked in oil).

    1. Email is :)

    2. Sounds delicious!

  14. Also, pinned here:

    1. oops...Email is

  15. A good healthy pasta dish always sounds good to me and I love the flavors in this! Squash and apple cider together are always a good thing.


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