Many people on grain free diets miss hearty pasta and rice dishes. Whatever your reason for going paleo, grains and rice can irritate an already damaged digestive tract, so I have my clients with digestive issues eliminate them until they heal. If we are working to heal a specific inflammatory GI condition, I might recommend a low FODMAP plan or The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), which goes a step farther and eliminates the more difficult to digest disaccharide and polysaccharide carbohydrates, including certain legumes, dairy, and yams/sweet potatoes and potatoes. Many of my already paleo folks who transition to SCD are bummed about excluding yams and sweet potatoes. Paleo peeps loooooove their sweet potatoes! But butternut squash is a safe starch that everyone can enjoy.
Enter butternut squash risotto. It’s rich, creamy, grain free, and legal for those following an SCD and/or low FODMAP plan. It’s very easy to make and reminiscent of genuine risotto, only without the heavy gut bomb feeling. You can whip this up in no time for a weeknight dinner served alongside your favorite meat dish.
Paleo Butternut Squash Risotto
1 medium sized butternut squash
4 slices diced pastured bacon or equal amount chopped pancetta
Optional add-ins: onion, shallot, garlic, basil, spices that appeal to you (certain spices and alliums may not be SCD or FODMAP-friendly)
Peel butternut squash and scoop out seeds. Chop into chunks and put it in the food processor. Pulse a few times so it’s the consistency of rice. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate large chunks with a cheese grater.
Meantime, cook sliced bacon in a large cast iron or non stick skillet. Remove, reserving the fat in the pan, and set aside. (NOTE: if you’re not low FODMAP, you can sautee an onion/shallot/garlic in the skillet for a few minutes here before adding butternut). Transfer riced butternut to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking. You can add a little broth or white wine to help prevent sticking too. Add salt (not too much, because you’ll be adding the bacon back in) and other seasonings to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes or until soft and slightly browned in parts. Add bacon back in, toss everything together, and season to taste. I like some nice crusty parts on mine, but that’s just me.
Looks like the real thing, right?! Transfer to serving bowl and serve! Enjoy.
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Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.