I don’t know why, but I love polenta. Although I don’t ever remember my grandma making it, for some reason polenta reminds me of her (I know, strange). I especially love polenta hot with marinara sauce on top. Polenta is made with cornmeal; sometimes it’s more course, other times more refined. Either way, polenta doesn’t provide much in terms of nutritional benefits. I mean, it’s got carbohydrates, but not much fiber, barely any protein (and very little fat too, until you add a bunch of toppings and/or mix-ins such as butter), and sometimes some vitamin A and C. But, overall, nothing to call home about (in terms of nutrition). So today I’m going to add some nutrition to this corn-based dish, in the form of walnuts, coconut, butternut squash, and coconut milk. Today I introduce to you the sweetened version of one of my favorite savory dishes (since, after all, tomorrow is Halloween, I figure I should post something sweet, right?!).
Sweet Butternut Squash Polenta
- 1 butternut squash, cooked and skin taken off **
- 1 cup Coarse Ground Polenta (fine ground OK too)
- 3 cups Water
- a few pinch(s) Salt, Ground Ginger, Cinnamon
- ½ cup Light Coconut Milk
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Paste
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- Sweeten to taste with Stevia, Maple Syrup, or Brown Sugar
- Garnish: Unsweetened Coconut Flakes **, walnuts and berries **
- Take out the flesh of the butternut (and discard the seeds and skin) and mash it well, leaving very few chunks. Put aside.
- Whisk 1 cup polenta into 3 cups boiling water. Immediately turn heat down to a simmer. Sprinkle salt, cinnamon, and ginger into polenta, mix. Add the butternut squash and stir to combine. Continue to stir until polenta is very thick like a paste (which shouldn’t be long at all at this point!).
- Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk, vanilla, butter and sweetener of choice. Adjust seasonings if needed.
- Serve warm. Top with with fruit, nuts, coconut and Enjoy!!
** If following a low FODMAPs diet, be aware that butternut squash and coconut contain FODMAPs. Most people can handle ¼ cup (of each) at a time, which means this recipe should be fine. If you’re concerned about the butternut squash, just add half of one to the recipe instead of a whole squash. Lastly, if you choose to garnish with berry, do not use blackberries because they contain FODMAPs.
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 181 Fat: 7.4 Saturated fat: 4.5 Carbohydrates: 25.9 Sugar: 2.0 Sodium: 58 Fiber: 2.5 Protein: 3.0
Nutrition Highlights: Under 200 calories, good source of fiber, and very low sodium. Also, let’s not forget the omega-3 from the walnuts. One-quarter cup provides about 2.3 g ALA, and 2 T provides about half of that, which is really a full day’s worth.
At first I wasn’t really sure about this “dessert”, but I started to really enjoy it after a while, and ended up finishing the entire batch (by myself…) in less than three days. Topped with the coconut, berries and walnuts, I was in heaven.
As you can see there aren’t any berries in the photo, but I did add some as I ate this throughout the week. I actually added frozen blueberries (my favorite berry, and yes, I almost always eat them frozen!) and allowed them to sort of soften and release their juicy sweet liquids on the polenta after I put the leftover dessert in the microwave and warmed it for about 30 seconds. Yum.
I definitely suggest this for either a light dessert if you’re throwing a dinner party (and of course even if it’s just a dinner party for one!), or for a sweet yet light snack to have around in the house (it keeps in the fridge pretty well). And hey, why not have it for breakfast? You can add more protein by serving it with a glass of milk or some Greek yogurt. Or, hmmm….you could even stir in some whey protein powder? If you try this, let me know!
Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day.
The Candid RD