Warming Winter Curry Grain Bowl (Gluten-Free)

By Amanda Paa – Updated April 23, 2021
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This warm, satisfying winter grain bowl combines millet, kale, and butternut squash together with a fresh citrus curry dressing. Naturally gluten-free.

After savoring the leftovers for a few days and each time the salad just getting more flavorful, I realized this recipe was a keeper. I owe all of my inspiration to Laurie’s fabulous Wild Rice, Roasted Squash & Kale Salad.

Using what I had on hand, this Warm Winter Curry Grain Bowl is a combination of rice and millet, kale, roasted vegetables and pomegranate seeds dressed in a citrus curry dressing.

It’s nourishing and colorful, hearty yet fresh, and celebrates in-season eating.

Winter Curry Pilaf with Butternut Squash & Pomegranates | heartbeet kitchen

Although I prefer kabocha and buttercup squash for baking and sturdy red kuri for braising, butternut is a great choice for roasting. Since it has more moisture (and less starch) than other varieties, the high heat dries it out, resulting in more concentrated flavor and helps to sweeten this relatively vegetal tasting squash.

I particularly love adding pomegranate seeds to salads and bowls for their contrasting tartness and crunch. Their garnet color and pretty shape reminds me of jewels.

And this Citrus Curry Dressing…. It’s zesty and light, and amps up the flavor. The grains soak up the dressing, and taking them from average to excellent.

Jeweled Butternut Squash & Curry Grains Salad {gf, vegan}Now that you have a gorgeous salad to put on your menu for next week, whether that be a healthy main dish or leftovers for breakfast with a poached egg, there’s something I feel like I need to talk about.

I haven’t mentioned it to many people, but the last few months have been trying in terms of my health. I’ve been gluten-free for 4 years, after a long time coming. My past includes several autoimmune issues that show in my nervous system and skin issues. Things like severe chicken pox, shingles for the first time when I was in 8th grade and subsequent times thereafter, solar dermatitis, hives if I exercise outside, rashes on my legs & inflammation. I finally figured out the gluten issue when I began to have severe occipital nerve pain (the two large nerves that run on top of your brain) & painful sores all over my scalp. Yuck, I know. And ouch ouch ouch. It was horrible and no one could figure out what was going on. I saw 7 doctors over the course of a year and finally one of them suggested the correlation between gluten/autoimmunity/inflammation.

Cutting out gluten made me feel a lot better, but in the last six months, worsening heartburn, intense headaches and a “I just celebrated my 21st birthday hangover” are what I wake up to nearly every day. It comes with a dull throbbing in my right ear along with inflammation around my forehead and eyes happens frequently. It intensifies immediately after drinking even a sip of alcohol, eating any type of soy, beans or cured meats. Little did I know they have something in common – high levels of histamine.

I was always curious why the hives and solar dermatitis didn’t stop when I cut out gluten, but the occurrences were less. Not fun, but I’ve felt like I could just live with it. However with all of the other symptoms, signs now point to a leaky gut + a histamine intolerance. I’m doing lots of testing with a doctor who specializes in auto-immunity and thyroid issues, hoping to come up with the answer so I can try to start healing.

Jeweled Butternut Squash & Curry Pilaf | heartbeet kitchen

Low-histamine and mast cell disorders have not been studied as much here as in the UK. Chris Kesser explains it best by saying,  “Histamine is a biogenic amine that triggers the immune response. A primary cause of histamine intolerance is an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that make histamine from undigested food, leading to a buildup of histamine in the gut and overwhelming the body’s ability to catabolize the excess histamine. This causes a heightened sensitivity to histamine-containing foods and an increase in symptoms that are commonly associated with allergies.”

So why am I just feeling the effects now? Well, basically our gut & its lining keeps degrading over time if there is an underlying issue. We keep filling “the bucket” and at some point it will overflow, which is what I imagine is happening now. Because there is so little information on it and some of the symptoms can mask themselves as other things, I’m waiting for the test results and doctor’s recommendation.

If it happens to be this, healing of my gut will have to be done through food, because truly food is the best medicine. The low-histamine protocol is similar to AIP, but different because of the high levels of histamine in such things like fermented foods. And in the end, everyone’s triggers are different so it will be a matter of experimenting.

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winter curry grain bowl in a white bowl

Warming Winter Curry Grain Bowl

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Prep Time :20 minutes
Cook Time :45 minutes
Total Time :1 hour 5 minutes
Yield: 5 servings
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 1 2 pound, medium size butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • ½ of a medium red onion chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice thoroughly rinsed

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked millet (about 3/4 cup dry) using this method
  • 1 medium bunch of lacinato kale leaves removed from stems and cut into very fine, thin strips
  • ½ cup of pomegranate seeds

Citrus Curry Dressing

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

  • 1 garlic clove finely minced

  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder

  • 1/4 cup hazelnut or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  • To make dressing: In a small saucepan, simmer the orange juice until slightly reduced, you should have about 1/3 cup juice. Let cool, then add all ingredients to a tall glass jar and use an immersion blender to puree. It should be creamy and completely uniform. You could do the same with a regular blender too. Will keep in refrigerator for one week.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then spread onto a large baking sheet. Toss the red onion with remaining olive oil and salt, then spread onto another baking sheet.
  • Place both in oven, and check on onions after about 8 minutes. Take them out when they are browned and have shrunk. Stir the squash at this time and roasting squash for another 25 minutes, until it can easily be pierced with a fork, but not mushy.
  • While vegetables are roasting, add the rice to a medium saucepan and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. And cook for about 35 minutes, or until rice is tender, but not mushy. Taste to be sure. Drain rice and return to empty pot. Set on stove and cover, letting steam for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and keep warm.
  • Add roasted vegetables, kale and cooked millet to a large bowl. Pour hot rice over the top of it and mix all together. Cover with a cloth so that the warmth stays inside and the kale will wilt slightly from the heat. 
  • After 5 minutes, stir again and add dressing along with 1/2 of the pomegranate seeds, stirring to combine. Pour into bowl for serving and top with remaining pomegranate seeds. 
  • *Can be made one day ahead of time, will last for 4 days in refrigerator.

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January 23, 2015


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  1. liz

    Coincidentally, I ran across your blog via Pinterest (looking for smoothie recipes) and your mention of your health issues sparked my interest. I woke up sick two yrs ago and finally was diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). Also linked with this awful disease/syndrome is Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (connective tissue disorder) AND Mast Cell Activation Syndrome! Just letting you know that there are answers out there, although finding out I had multiple issues wasn’t what I wanted to hear. There is a good resource on facebook, a page called Mast Movement. Look it up and read the files. Lots of info, help, and doctor resources. Good Luck!

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Liz! Thanks so much for stopping by. After that post I was finally diagnosed with SIBO and leaky gut. I am treating it now, but it is a tough road. I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis too, our health is everything isn’t it? I wish you continued healing, and thanks for all the other information. xo

  2. sarah

    I have to make a suggestion! Read ‘Clean Gut.’ There is a digestive system repair regimem that I haven’t tried but the science behind it is solid. The digestive system controls much more of our immunity than we think!!! And thanks for the awesome recipe!!!! (Alejandro Junger who wrote the book was a cardiovascular surgeon who found his health declining and searched for something that he could do nutritionally to heal himself. Gluten free is one of the steps)

    • Amanda Paa

      Sarah, thanks so much for this suggestion! The more I’m reading, the more I’m learning that just as you said our gut is the “mastermind” of our immunity basically. Kind of crazy. I have been experimenting with taking some things out that seem to be triggers – dairy, soy and some grains like quinoa. I’m feeling a little better and expect the tests to be back this week. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  3. Thea @ Baking Magique

    It really does look beautiful and I love using pomegranate seeds in salads :)

  4. Sarah @ SnixyKitchen

    I’m so sorry to hear about all of the health issues you’ve been going through – I feel inspired by your continued effort to figure out what’s been going on and I’m sending lots of hope that you figure it all out soon. I’m also so glad that you posted this recipe – I’ve got some pomegranate arils in the fridge right now and this seems like the perfect thing to use them for!

    • Amanda Paa

      Thank you for your kind thoughts Sarah. I’m really hoping they figure it out too. Some of my tests come back this week so hopefully the road to feeling better will begin soon. I’m usually pretty tough, but it’s not fun to feel crappy every day. And I haven’t been able to have a glass of wine in two months, ack! xo

  5. Laurie @ Relishing It

    First of all– you are so sweet! Secondly, I hope you feel better soon, friend.

    • Amanda Paa

      you are one talented friend. thanks for the well wishes on my health, should have one of the tests back on friday. xo

  6. Carol

    I look at your recipes from the Cooking.com web site. I finally just “Googled” your name and found your blog. I am a Type II diabetic and need the nutritional values for recipes so I can adjust my daily meals. Would it be possible for you to start including those on your recipes? Which would be the best place for me to find those recipes with the nutritional values included? I will check it daily.


    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Carol! I’m so glad you found me from Cooking.com and are enjoying those recipes. As a recipe developer, I do not do the nutritional value analysis. It is definitely something you could contact them about and maybe they will take it into consideration for further development of the site. If you have a particular question about one of my recipes I’d be happy to try and answer it though!


  7. Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

    The salad is gorgeous indeed, but I am writing mainly in order to send some love and positive words your way. Trying to figure out one’s health issues can be a long and daunting challenge, but it’s so, so important in order to try and live the rest of your life in relative ease (at least physically). We are lucky to be living at a time when awareness of how much the foods we eat can actually impact our health is growing each day, and that conditions that even a few years ago were seen as chronic life sentences are now easily treated through a change in diet. Hang in there, stay strong, and know that people are sending lots of love your way!

    • Amanda Paa

      Ksenia, thank you so much for this. It brightened my spirits. You are right, we are so lucky to be living with more information & better nutrition ideas to help us feel our best. And that we can reverse how we feel through food. I am hopeful. xo

  8. Kristi Rimkus

    I saw your salad over on Google + and had to pop over to say how gorgeous it is.

    • Amanda Paa

      Kristi, I appreciate that so much. You made my day :) Just popped over to your site as well – those energy bites!

  9. emily (a nutritionist eats)

    The salad is stunning, SO gorgeous. I’m sorry that you are having lingering health issues and hope you find an answer soon. That’s no fun to deal with.

    • Amanda Paa

      Thank you Emily. It’s a bright spot with all the dark days we’ve been having. And thanks for the thoughts about my health. I’m really just hoping to find some answers soon. xo

  10. Rebecca @ DisplacedHousewife

    This looks delicious!! I’m currently obsessed with millet. I’ll definitely try this one…the dressing sounds amazing.

  11. Tessa | Salted Plains

    I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with this! I know how frustrating that is – to know something is seriously off but to feel like you are back at square one again. The histamine issue is one I’ve experienced a bit too, almost a worse reaction than I have with gluten, but seemingly more random. It sounds like you are in good hands with this doctor. I hope you get the answers you need very soon!!

    And this salad is beautiful! Citrus and curry together sound just wonderful.

  12. jaime : the briny

    amanda, i’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with persistent health issues. it’s such a bummer, especially when there isn’t a solution in plain sight. i wish you the very best in your journey to feeling healthy and inside and out. sending all the healing vibes i can muster your way.

    i’m in a place of mystery as far as my own health goes, too — i’m beginning to wonder if dropping eggs from my diet in favor of more legumes is causing more inflammation and digestive for me. health is such a personal thing. what’s wholesome and healthy for one might be totally unsustainable for another, so finding our own personalized mix can be incredibly tricky. i’m glad to hear you’ve got a direction in mind, though, and a plan for diet when/if the results point where you’re thinking they might. thank you for sharing — i didn’t know about histamine as it relates to food/diet. all the best, amanda!

    • Amanda Paa

      aw, thanks for your sweet note. i know, it’s so strange that food that is rich in nutrients and vitamins can be not so kind to some of our systems. it definitely is different per individual. i have been keeping a food diary and beans + grains are definitely triggers right now. i’m thankful to have a good doctor and i’m hopeful that we’ll come up with a strategy. i just want to feel better, and i’m sure you do too. hopefully we can start healing soon! xo

  13. Susan // the wimpy vegetarian

    The path of figuring out health issues that don’t fit neatly in a familiar box take a lot of detective work. And patience. Much luck to you – it sounds like you may be on the right path. And thanks for sharing such a lovely salad. And the dressing looks fabulous!

    • Amanda Paa

      Thank you Susan, I really appreciate it. It certainly is frustrating, but I’m hopeful. Have a great rest of the weekend, and hope this salad is in your future :)

  14. Christiane ~ Taking On Magazines

    I am so sorry to hear about your health issues, and that no matter what diet you try, things aren’t turning around for you. I hope that the doctors are able to find resolution soon and you’ll return to full good health! (The salad looks amazing.)

  15. Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious

    Here’s wishing you answers and good health!

  16. Megan {Country Cleaver}

    I’m so in love with these colors and the squash! I’ve been on a wicked curry kick as of late – this is only going to fuel that fire!

  17. celyn

    loving the sounds of all the flavors in this dish!


  18. Barbara @ Barbara Bakes

    Love how colorful and fresh this salad is. Beautiful!

  19. cristina

    OMG…why would you debate posting this beautiful salad? Really lovely salad of ingredients and I’m with you with just starting to use pomegranate arils too.

    I feel for you and your journey with diagnosing gluten sensitivity and you’ve educated/introduced me to the term, “low-histamine”. I hope this new year finds you on the road to feeling much better…

    • Amanda Paa

      Aw Cristina, thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one who is just getting on the pomegranate train :) And thanks for your comments about my health, that means a lot.

  20. Julia | Orchard Street Kitchen

    Amanda, this is such a beautiful dish! I especially love the citrus curry dressing. Have you ever had the Sweet Curry from Penzey’s Spices? I don’t know if they have Penzey’s in MN, but you should definitely look into it!

    I’m so sorry that you haven’t been feeling well. It can be so frustrating to not know the root issue of an illness, so I really hope you can get the answers you need soon. I’ve been in a similar situation before and definitely understand what you’re going through. We have so much more to learn about how food affects us – it’s equal parts fascinating and intimidating!

  21. Lisa

    dear Amanda
    I have had two auto-immune issues. Meniere’s disease and auto-immune hepatitis.
    I have had good luck with doctors at Mayo Clinic in Rochestor MN. I understand your frustration and wish you luck on getting healthy again. Best, Lisa

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Lisa, thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s amazing how many autoimmune issues there are…. I hope you are feeling better. I live in MN, so the Mayo Clinic is definitely what my step in the future may be.

  22. Jeni

    This looks fabulous with so many wonderful colors and flavors! Can’t wait to try it!

    • Amanda Paa

      Thanks Jeni, we really did enjoy it. Hope you do too. And some wintery brightness!