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I fell further in love with fall this year.

Maybe it’s because we really had the season year – complete with changing colors and rain storms.  Or perhaps I’ve missed it every other year because of my travel schedule and just not noticed it.  But for some reason, this season has really touched me this year.

Perhaps one of the reasons fall effects me so much is how colorful it is.  One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I crave color.  When asked “what inspires you” at a yoga retreat earlier this year, I realized that color does.  Vibrant hues make me feel alive.

I think many of us don’t realize what a profound effect color can have on us.  Several schools of thought believe color impacts us in a profound way, affecting our emotions and decisions – including modern psychology and advertising.  Red and yellow hues invigorate and stimulate us – perhaps just what we need when the weather starts turning chilly.

#imgratefulfor fall

Color is also important in food – we’re often told to eat the rainbow.  The different pigments that color fruits and vegetables each contain unique nutrients; the more colors you eat, the wider range of nutrients you get.  Red and orange foods, the colors of fall, both contain antioxidants that protect against various forms of cancer.  Vitamin A, found in orange vegetables and fruits, also can improve immune system function.

#imgratefulfor fall

It didn’t feel like there was enough time to enjoy it. Really, fall only lasted the month of November for us. We had 80 degree days in October, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And no matter what the weather, December feels like winter just because of the holiday decorations.

Making this stew lets me enjoy the season a little longer.  It has the colors and tastes of fall – reds and oranges reminiscent of the changing leaves, creamy winter squash, and a hint of sweetness and spice.  It’s nourishing and warming, just what we need as the weather grows colder.  The vibrant colors of this stew ensure you receive a variety of nutrients.  The black soybeans give an extra nutritional boost – due to their high pigment content, black foods have more antioxidants.

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Hurry up and make this recipe before the season ends!

Black Soybean and Kabocha Squash Stew

Make this dish to savor the colors and tastes of autumn.  It satisfies the cravings for a fall stew – sweet, spicy, stick to your ribs, and made with my favorite squash.  To make the meal quicker, you could substitute two cups canned black soybeans.  Butternut squash can replace the kabocha if you can’t find it.  Serve with a side of greens and finish with a hot cup of apple cider to truly enjoy the flavors of fall.

Adapted from The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet.

Serves 4.

  • 1 cup dried black beans (or 2 cups canned)
  • 1” piece of kombu seaweed
  • About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Fine sea salt
  • Generous pinch crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ kabocha squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1” pieces (peel only if the kabocha squash is not organic)
  • 3/4 cup mirin (in Asian section of most markets)
  • 2 teaspoons white miso
  • 3-4 cilantro sprigs, chopped

Rinse the soybeans, then turn them onto a kitchen towel and rub to remove as much moisture as possible.  Place the beans in a dry, medium skillet, and pan-toast them over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until they puff up a little and their skins begin to split.

Transfer the beans to a large pot, and add the kombu and 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 90 minutes or until the beans are tender.

While the beans cook, combine the oil, garlic, onion and chili powder in a large skillet over medium heat.  When you hear the onion start to sizzle, add a pinch of salt, red-pepper flakes, and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, squash, mirin, and 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Cook until the squash is tender, about 35 minutes.  Remove a small amount of broth from the skillet and use this to dissolve the miso.  Once dissolved, stir the miso into the vegetables.

Once the beans are fully cooked, drain them of any leftover liquid.  Add the beans to the vegetables, and simmer over low heat until all remaining liquid has been absorbed.  Turn off the heat, stir in the cilantro, and serve hot.

Black Soybean and Kabocha Squash Stew Bowl from the Kind Diet