Sweet & Sour Roasted Squash for Digestive Health & Strength

by Travis Metzger |

Sweet & Sour Roasted Squash for Digestive Health & Strength

As many who follow my recipes know, I Iove making soups, especially those that combine international flavors with a handful of simple ingredients.  Moreover, by combining them with the right amount of Chinese dietary theory, they can be powerful in supporting your health goals - particularly those that help support a healthy digestion.

Did I mention that I love squash and that it can be almost medicinal in helping digestive strength?

There Are Two Types of Squash...

Squash falls into two categories: Summer or immature and winter or fully mature.  Maturation periods vary from a week for a zucchini to two months or more for a winter squash. The summer squash is watery and more cooling whereas the winter squash has a warming post digestive thermal nature with a sweet flavor that influences the spleen and stomach, reduces inflammation and improves Qi energy circulation.  

Compared with summer squash, winter squash contains greater amounts of natural sugars, carbohydrates, vitamin A and beta-carotene and is medicinal for those with digestive issues. The watery summer squash and zucchini have a yin and cooling property that helps to overcome summer heat, too much summer squash especially zucchini can diminish one's "Middle Burner" warmth necessary for good digestion. 

In Chinese medicine theory it is important to strengthen the spleen and harmonize the stomach, if the spleen and stomach are deficient, they will be unable to perform their digestive functions.  

agrodulce squash

Acorn squash is a common fall variety that I enjoy cooking.  An acorn’s skin is typically dark green and the flesh is typically pale yellow.  Most acorn squash skin is thin enough to be edible when cooked and leaving the dark skin on makes it more visually appealing.  You’ll get the most flavor from a squash harvested after the first frost and the sweetest squash generally are those with the most deeply colored flesh.  If you happen to have a squash that is a little bland, a vinegar, honey and chile glaze called agrodolce is a great way to add some heat and some sweet!

squash agrodulce garden

A Chinese Medicine Soup with Italian Flare

Sweet and sour is a classic combination of flavors that can be found in almost every cuisine around the world.   In Italy, it’s called agrodolce and produces delicious balanced dishes of savory and sweet.  Agrodolce is made by reducing sour and sweet elements, traditionally vinegar and sugar. Here we are using red wine vinegar and honey with golden raisins and red chile.

Honey acts on the stomach and spleen and when compared to regular sugar is slightly sweeter and has a more complex flavor.  Add as much red chile as you like, but be sure to add it at the end of the sauce making process as you don’t want the entire sauce to be spicy throughout, you want to get a little surprise of spice every now and then without overpowering the tangy sweet balance.

Acorn Squash Agrodolce

Prep/cook time about 60 minutes
Serves about 6


  • 1-2 Acorn squash depending on size
  • 5-7 Ounces red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 Ounces honey depending on how sweet you like it
  • 1-2 Ounces EVOO
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper  
  • ¼ Cup golden raisins
  • Red chile or crushed red pepper flake


Cut the acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and discard.  Slice the squash into 1 inch slices, (the squash naturally provides cutting lines for you!) toss with olive oil and and season with salt and pepper, place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until tender and golden brown or about 40 minutes.  Leave the peel if soft enough otherwise removed the peeling and dice the squash.

Make your agrodolce in a small saucepan by combining the red wine vinegar, honey and golden raisins.  Bring to a simmer and on low heat and reduce until slightly syrupy. Stir in the red chile.

Using a large bowl, toss the roasted squash with half the agrodolce sauce.  Add a little olive oil or water to thin the sauce if it reduced too much. After you have plated the squash, spoon over the remaining agrodolce. Feel free to garnish with chives, sage or other other herbs that you like.

This is servable right away while still warm but is equally as delicious served at room temperature.

Dining with Culinary Artist Travis Metzger is an unforgettable experience. You can taste the passion, creativity and culinary expertise in each of Travis’s one-of-kind recipes. Most would agree that Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs in their original form taste less than delectable, but Travis has proven that TCM for today can taste great with DAO Labs. Travis develops unique flavors for each DAO formula to complement the proprietary blend of herbs and their health benefits. After extensive training at the New England Culinary Institute, Travis ran some of the finest restaurants across the country before starting his own in Minneapolis. To survive the stresses and physical challenges of the kitchen heat, Travis focused on combining natural ingredients for healthy AND delicious eating and juicing.

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