Updated: May 29
What if you can make a healthy dessert or breakfast ahead of time with only 3 ingredients?
When I saw a beautiful kabocha squash at a farmer's market the other day, it gave me inspiration for a dessert menu: porridge made of a kabocha and adzuki beans. The idea of making this dish thrills me every fall as this winter squash starts to show up in grocery stores.
This porridge can serve as a healthy dessert, snack, or breakfast. The sweet and nutty flavor of the kabocha is to die for. The creamy texture of this porridge is achieved without the addition of fat. The key health benefit of this porridge is its low glycemic index: it does not spike your blood glucose level due to its fiber and resistant starch, improving insulin sensitivity. It also keeps you feel full because the fiber and resistant starch are not broken down until it reaches the colon to feed your gut bacteria, helping you lose weight and maintain a healthy gut.
Do you wonder why you should care about feeding your gut bacteria? When they don't get enough fiber from your diet, they start to break down the inner surface of your gut, weakening your digestive capacity as well as increasing a chance of overstimulating your immune system. Our "friendly" gut bacteria also produce short-chain fatty acids that keep "bad" gut bacteria at bay and suppress our appetite as well as fat accumulation.
Fiber and resistant starch also facilitate our bowel movement, keeping our colon clean and reducing our risk of colon cancer.
Kabocha is enriched with fiber, iron, vitamin C, and beta-carotene reflected by its bright orange color. Not only are adzuki beans packed with soluble fiber, resistant starch, and anti-oxidants that slow down our aging, but they also lower the blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing our risk of heart disease.
To fully get these health benefits of adzuki beans, we first need to reduce their anti-nutrients that inhibit our digestion, using a "soaking-and-boiling" method (see the recipe below). The bright red color of adzuki beans was believed to bring good luck to Koreans. I hope this porridge will bring you joy from its incredible flavor, numerous health benefits, and good luck.
Ingredients for 16 servings
Adzuki beans (0.5 LB): available in Asian grocery stores.
One small kabocha squash (2-3 LB)
Salt (1.5 tsp)
Sugar (2 tsp)
Boil adzuki beans for 3 minutes in a heavy-duty pot that holds at least 2.5 QT of food. Leave the beans in the pot for at least 2 hours to reduce their anti-nutrients. Before cooking the beans, discard the water in which they have been soaked, wash the beans, and add fresh water just enough to cover the beans. Because extra water will come out of a kabocha during the cooking process, you won't need to add much water at this stage. Once the beans are boiling, cover the pot and simmer them for 40 minutes. You can walk away from the pot at this point. The most difficult part of making this porridge is to cut a kabocha into bite-sized pieces. You can grab a sharp knife, cut off the stem, push the knife into the top center of a kabocha, and run the knife toward the bottom center of the kabocha. Now you can run your knife on the opposite side to half the kabocha. Once you have two large pieces, it becomes much easier to cut off small wedges from them. Take a wedge and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
Add half of the kabocha pieces, salt, and sugar to the pot and keep simmering the porridge. As water comes out of the kabocha pieces, you will create more room in the pot for the remaining kabocha pieces. 10 minutes later, add the other half of the kabocha pieces to the pot. I don't cook all kabocha pieces at once so that some of them will remain chunky toward the end of cooking. 5 minutes later, sprinkle rolled oats on top of the porridge and cover the pot. Now you can turn off the heat. The remaining heat will continue to cook the porridge. 5 minutes later, check its final taste. Now you can serve this porridge while it is still warm. Since this porridge travels well, you can easily bring it to school or work.
If you have enjoyed this recipe, please share it with your friends. I'd also love to hear from you about how your porridge has turned out in the comments below!