salads vegetarian

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

October 24, 2014

The ultimate fall salad is this maple roasted acorn squash salad tossed with a deliciously decadent pomegranate vinaigrette. The perfect way to get in your seasonal veggies!

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Pomegranate Dressing - for a hearty and filling Fall salad ready in 30 minutes.(warning, long rant ahead…scroll down for the recipe)

I had a whole post written for today that I suddenly deleted after letting a few voices get into my head. The post was funny, or at least I thought it was funny but thanks to an event I attended last night I started to question whether my voice was coming off as “authentic”.

The event was titled, “data and technology, when does it get in the way of emotionally relevant storytelling?” and it was held at The Spoke Club where we had the opportunity to meet, discuss and challenge other creative minds on this topic. For obvious reasons, I was particularly invested in this topic.

I write a food blog. I share stories about my life, which I infuse between pictures of food. I use technology as a platform to share my story and without it I have wondered whether I would have had the opportunity to share my story at all.

Despite being in a room full of marketers and advertisers, I was getting that sense that the majority of the room felt strongly that data and technology does get in the way of emotionally relevant storytelling. I found myself in the minority.

Not only do I feel as though technology has given me a platform to share my story, but I also really value the data I am acquiring behind the scenes.

It’s true, running The Healthy Maven is my job so getting a better understanding of what content you gravitate to most (from the numbers side) is key in helping me run a successful business. But part of what I love most about my job is being able to create content that is emotionally relevant to you, whether it be making you laugh at my stalkerish tendencies (what this post was supposed to be about), giving you healthy recipes that allow you to create stories in your own life or inspiring you to make one small change for you health today.

I take into account what you like to see, but I don’t in any way feel as though it has changed my voice or made me any less authentic.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Pomegranate Dressing - for a hearty and filling Fall salad ready in 30 minutes.And then comes the question of advertisements and sponsored posts and whether that dilutes my story. I personally feel as though that is a line that each blogger (or whatever your job is) must draw for themselves. I have advertisements on the blog, they don’t bother me, they help me to stay afloat and if they bother you then you are free to leave.

Same goes for sponsored posts. I have a criteria they must meet (they must be relevant to my readers, something I would use in my own life and no more than 3 a month) and this helps me to keep my voice intact. It’s what I am comfortable with but also allows me to do what I love for a living.

I think it was easy for some people in the room to say that making money off advertisements and using data to direct your content makes you less authentic because many have reached a level of success where they don’t have to worry about these things. But I do, and you know what? I am okay with it.

I like that part of my job involves giving you what you want to see and I like that I struggle with the questions that come with staying true to your message as you grow it as a business. I enjoy learning how to “do me” in a world that happens to be driven by data and technology. And I don’t feel the need to “damn the man” and do away with the things many of us are required to do to run our own business, even if some people think it is “selling out”.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Salad 3Mostly, I love that no matter how much The Healthy Maven evolves or changes, I still have the power to control its message. That I am afforded the opportunity to delete everything that’s been written and start a whole new story from scratch is pretty damn cool. So no, I don’t think that data and technology get in the way of emotionally relevant storytelling. In fact, I think it enhances it.

P.S. You should make this Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Salad. Do it.


Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

  • Total Time: 30 minutes


For the Maple Roasted Acorn Squash:

  • 1 acorn squash (2 lbs)
  • 3 T maple syrup
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

  • 6 large handfuls of baby arugula (or green of choice)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

For the dressing:

  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup


For the Maple Roasted Acorn Squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Cut off top and bottom of squash, then cut in half (lengthwise) and scoop out seeds. *
  3. Lay each side down and cut width-wise into strips.
  4. In a large bowl combine maple syrup and olive oil.
  5. Dip each piece into the mixture to coat both sides and then lay on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Roast them for 15 mins on side one, flip and roast for another 10 mins on the other side.**

For the salad:

  1. Combine all salad ingredients and then top with squash.

For the dressing:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Top onto salad just before serving.


*If squash is hard to cut, place in microwave for 3-4 minutes before cutting with a sharp knife. **If you do not like to eat the skin, let squash cool and peel off the skin before adding to salad.


  • Serving Size: 4

The ultimate fall salad is this maple roasted acorn squash salad tossed with a deliciously decadent pomegranate vinaigrette. The perfect way to get in your seasonal veggies!So now I ask you, “do data and technology get in the way of emotionally relevant storytelling?”


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  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    October 24, 2014 at 5:09 am

    I feel like I need to write a coherent English level essay response to this but I have no brain cells. I think it comes down to perception and level of comfort- to be honest, I haven’t seen a particularly evident shift in this blog over time- and that is something very evident on other blogs who it is primarily their business.

    I kind of want that dressing because it looks like strawberry frozen yogurt.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2014 at 6:02 am

    I agree with Arman here ha. What a well written post lady. Your blog is awesome and your message authentic, and this is all that matters.
    This salad looks badman – the combination of flavours – mmmm! I have only just clicked that arugula is rocket haha. Bloody brits! 😉

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food
    October 24, 2014 at 6:08 am

    I definitely agree with you, I don’t think data and technology get in the way of relevant story telling at all. At the end of the day, most readers come back to blogs because of the writers. Is it easier to LET that stuff get in the way of telling your story well? Definitely, but if you have a strong voice it will come through in your writing regardless.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I’m so glad you are my best friend! You have such a way with words. We love THM because of your witty quirkiness! Also- having ads on your site is AWESOMe because we know you are monetizing it and living your dream! Keep on keeping on 😀

    • Reply
      October 26, 2014 at 8:36 am

      I love the support here, and i want to echo what Lee said. You are making BIG PLANS and DREAMS happen friend. Ads help. But i don’t think you’ve lost your voice at all. It’s always real, and we appreciate that. INSPIRATION at it’s finest! xxoo

      now make me some more of this recipe please.

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    October 24, 2014 at 9:02 am

    This post is EVERYTHING. You have the perfect balance of funny, serious, recipe, sponsored, and life-based posts. You’re totally candid about everything you do and we all so appreciate your authenticity. People who frown upon a sponsored post here and there probably have no idea how time-consuming it is to run a blog. If I added up all the hours I’ve put into hummusapien, I would probably be making half a penny every two hours! Love this salad and yewwww.

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    October 24, 2014 at 10:10 am

    If ads allow you to do this for a living – then why the hell not? I don’t think data gets in the way of emotionally-driven storytelling – just having the technology in itself allows us to bring storytelling to a wider audience that we would never meet or have the chance to share with otherwise! So I would agree that technology and data can actually enhance it.

    And yes…I do need to make this salad!

  • Reply
    Em @ Love A Latte
    October 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

    For some it may take away from being authentic but it’s very apparent that it doesn’t get in the way for you. I think your blog has just gotten better and better! I don’t mind ads at all. I don’t love sponsored posts but I get the reason behind them. What you’re doing is SO AWESOME!

  • Reply
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma
    October 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I completely agree with your thoughts. I’ve found that I’m the most authentic I’ve ever been using my blog as a platform, I’ve learned things about myself, I force myself to be honest and it’s helped me share myself and my emotions in a way I never have been able to before. It allows people to connect in a way they wouldn’t without the technology. If there’s maybe 10-15 % of blog content that is diluted because of the business aspect, that other much greater percentage leaves room for authenticity. Truthfully, the bloggers who aren’t authentic online probably aren’t in person either.

    This recipe looks incredible and the picture is giving me major cravings for acorn squash. Thanks for another great one 🙂

  • Reply
    Nikki @ Quest for Balance
    October 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I think technology enhances emotional story telling. It’s not selling out to look at some numbers and see what kinds of things people like to read about most. Would you consistently talk to a friend about things that didn’t matter to them? Um no. You would obviously share aspects of your life that resonate with them most! If anything technology provides you with a better opportunity to turn your blog into a platform for two way communication and building better relationships. As long as you are stay true to yourself when you share the things that resonate most (which you clearly do) then it is definitely not “selling out”. As for sponsored posts and ads, I honestly kind of love them! You are getting this amazing opportunity to live your dreams, and you are sharing these wicked products that I didn’t even know existed. Totally benefits me too. I personally think you are doing a tremendous job at balancing everything. Keep on keeping on Ms. Maven!

  • Reply
    Jodie @ Source One Nutrition
    October 24, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Such timing! My post a couple of days ago is the first where I went out on a limb, got personal, and was emotionally storytelling. It is something that I had been struggling with, if I wanted to go there. After I published it, I felt great and have had great support and feedback. If not for technology, it would not have been possible. I’m just starting the journey of finding my voice, but authenticity feels awesome! Keep up your great work!!!

  • Reply
    Jodie @ Source One Nutrition
    October 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Such timing! My post a couple of days ago is the first where I went out on a limb, got personal, and was emotionally storytelling. It is something that I had been struggling with, if I wanted to go there. After I published it, I felt great and have had great support and feedback. If not for technology, it would not have been possible. I’m just starting the journey of finding my voice, but authenticity feels awesome! Keep up your great work!!!

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    October 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Preach woman! I never understand people that say you’re “selling out” by doing ads or sponsored posts… Even for a blogger who does it as a side gig, it still takes a lot of time and effort, and I don’t see anything wrong with getting paid as long as you keep it genuine and authentic. Like you, I have certain standards when I work with brands for sponsored posts, product reviews, etc. and I think that as long as you keep it real and only do things genuinely from your heart, it’s all good. Just recently I backed out of a campaign because I didn’t like the vibes I was getting from it. I lost out on a bit of cash, but it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, I have to do what feels right to me… so you go on with your lovely self telling your story through beautiful food photography! I’ll be here reading. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Really great post! Though I have yet to even scratch the surface of the blog world and all that it entails to run a successful one, ie adult see how much though, time and effort goes into each post-not to mention recipe development and photography. It truly is a full time job and you deserve to be compensated as such. I would never stop reading a blog for that. I feel like your voice is true to you and you are so witty and make me laugh and smile each time I read!

  • Reply
    GiGi Eats
    October 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    HAVE YOU found a WHITE ACORN SQUASH YET?!?!?! Prepare for your mind to be BLOWN! I compared it to BREAD when I was eating it, and my friend was like UHHHH WTF – this is because, well, I don’t remember what bread tastes like, ha ha ha!

  • Reply
    Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers
    October 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    This sounds agreeable enough to me. Though sponsored posts may interfere with a story or a true voice, it’s not such a bad thing if used in the ways that you do. Readers should respect that, just like you respect readers by only working with brands you trust or like. Even in non-sponsored posts, I feel that technology and data distract from the raw emotion of a good ol’ fashioned story. (eg: publishing “pinteresting” posts instead of interesting ones, just one example)
    Keep on writing pretty lady! (and cooking!!)

  • Reply
    Gabby @ the veggie nook
    October 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I agree! You work hard, this is your job. Ads and sponsors are the only way you will get paid for it so you are completely entitled to them! Good on ya girl 🙂

    This recipe looks delicious!!

  • Reply
    Cailee @
    October 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Oh my word! I LOVE acorn squash! Seriously, it’s so filling and delicious! Totes perf! …plus this is such a seasonally delicious recipe! Great job girl! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    This recipe looks amazing first of all! Second of all, I think that data and technology enhance storytelling. I don’t think you can have one without the other. I think you have to do what you have to do to make a living and knowing what your readers want is important. There is no one right way to run a blog and you can never please everyone, the most important thing is that you are happy with what you are doing.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      Thank you, love! Really appreciate the support! Cannot believe Baby B is coming so soon!!!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    So excited to try this! Quick question though – why does your dressing look creamy? What’s gives it its opacity?

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 28, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      Thanks Leigh! I actually made the pomegranate juice myself and didn’t do the best job pushing the seeds through the sieve to get out all of the pits so that’s probably why it looks a little thicker. Though I made it again and did a better job straining it and the colour wasn’t much different (just slightly darker). Both delicious though! Enjoy 🙂

      • Reply
        October 29, 2014 at 12:05 pm

        Thanks so much!

        I made this for my boyfriend on the weekend (and added brie – yum!) and it was a HUGE hit. He gobbled it all up. I will definitely be making this and variations of it all winter long. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    October 27, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I think it maybe can get in the way, but it depends on the person. I’ve seen blogs that have gotten bogged down by sponsored posts and lost a lot of their personality. But your blog has never been anything but authentic and fun. You’ve done such a great job of monetizing your blog while still letting it reflect YOU. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
    October 27, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I believe technology has opened up huge opportunities that we did not have before. As a food writer your only hope would be to write for a magazine or get a cook book published. Now there are so many more opportunities. I also firmly beieve that if people don’t like something (sponsored posts or ads) they can always read something else. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Are you making this for the Thanksgiving I am potentially crashing if I don’t go home??

    ANYWAY, we talked all about this over Skype. I want to punch people when they accuse a few sponsored posts as “selling out” if it’s RELEVANT to the blog and blogger. If a blog is your full time career, you HAVE to make money from it… if it was the reader who is accusing said person of selling out, would they turn down a bonus for doing a little extra work or doing something differently? NO. It’s only selling out if The Healthy Maven starts doing sponsored posts by like Tampax and All State Car Insurance and shit.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      I signed on with Playtex so I’m clear right? Kidding! I tots didn’t because you and I both know I would botch that post!

  • Reply
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
    October 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    you have always been so transparent and open about your progress which i dont see in many food bloggers..i have always appreciated and supported your adventure and will continue to do because you are such a hard worker. Dream big and follow it with your heart girl. you will always have those people telling you otherwise, its the difficult part of being in this business.

  • Reply
    October 29, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Um so I want to read the stalker post please. I need to know what I’m getting into before I step into the lion’s den so to speak. I assume you’re okay with me calling you a cat. No matter, you’ll likely let me pet you before it’s all said and done. On the top of your head, obviously. What were you thinking?!

    I think you do a great job at staying true to yourself. Sponsored posts should stay true to the blogger and not be overwhelming or make up the majority of your content, and you do great with all of those things. For reals, you make it work for you. Also the same can be said for your FB posts. They seem spontaneous (even though they’re prescheduled) and you share a bit of yourself in each one so they make people feel warm and fuzzy. The here’s a link to my recipe FB posts tend to lack personality and genuineness and you avoid those traps. Seriously, kudos to you my little kitty cat… er I mean friend.

  • Reply
    Anna Kriegel
    December 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Just made this!!!! bringing it to a potluck tonight, will let you know if it’s a hit!!! LOVEYOU

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