The air was still and the fog glided in a stream that virtually kissed the ground.  The blanket of early morning mist that rolled across the marshlands of Coyote Hills looked strikingly dramatic.  The slender reed stood tall, nearly motionless, against the faint orange sky lit by the sun that peeked through Mission Peak.  It was a stunning sight to see.

Morning RunI planned a quick three-mile run on a trail that would meander through the marshlands past local Mallard ducks and Canadian geese.  It was fifty seven degrees outside but it felt colder.  Much, much colder. I thought I wouldn’t need my running jacket but as soon as I stepped out on the trail, I shivered and regretted my indecision. It was too late to quit. I just couldn’t give in yet again to foolish inactivity.   I have to get back in shape, I reminded myself.  Only a month till Thanksgiving and Christmas will follow suit.  The year slipped by so quickly and so did my neglected running goals.  I braved the cold and dragged my sad, heavy legs out for a run.

The beautiful Indian summer came and went.  The seasons have changed without a doubt.  The days have gotten shorter.  Dishearteningly shorter and colder.  I don’t know about you but my brain instantly shuts down when the sun goes down.  I feel exponentially more productive when the days are longer.  I get infinitely more done.  And I swear, I get more allergic to cold weather as I get older.  I see a tropical island in my hoping-it’s-not-so-distant future.

When the temperature dips,  I find comfort in my mom’s ginataang halo-halo [gi-nah-tah-ahng hah-lo hah-lo].  Ginataan, as you’ll recall, means cooking with gata or coconut milk.  Like the Filipino favorite halo-halo, ginataang halo-halo is a veritable mix of fruits and tubers but instead of enjoying them with shaved ice and milk the mix is slowly cooked in coconut milk.  Any combination of fruits like banana and jackfruit and tubers like sweet potato, yam, and taro can be used to make this hearty sweet stew.  A warm bowl of ginataang halo-halo is my kind of comfort on a cold Fall day.


Ginataang Halo-Halo Recipe, makes six servings

2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
1 cup water
roughly 1 lb purple sweet potatoes or ube (purple yam), peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces, about 1-1/2 cups
roughly 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces, about 1-1/2 cups
3 saba bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices, about 1-1/2 cups
1/2 cup sweetened jackfruit
1/3 cup sugar

Bring coconut milk and water to a boil in a large pot over medium to high heat. Add purple sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.  Add bananas, jackfruit and sugar and simmer until sweet potatoes and butternut squash are cooked through, about 10 more minutes.  Ladle the stew in bowls, top with more sliced jackfruit, and serve warm.


Cooking Notes:

1. Cut the sweet potatoes and butternut squash uniformly so that they cook evenly.

2. For a more traditional halo-halo, substitute camote (yellow sweet potatoes) and gabi (taro) for butternut squash but keep the purple sweet potatoes or purple yam because its color bleeds into the stew, giving it a beautiful purple hue.

3. To make the stew thinner, add more water and adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar.  To make the stew thicker, add sago (tapioca pearls) and bilo-bilo (sticky rice flour dough balls) made from sticky rice flour and water (a cup of sticky rice flour to half a cup of water).


Ginataang Halo-Halo

  • The Daily Palette

    Just like you, my city cousins call this ginataang halo-halo.  In Bataan, my dad’s side of the family calls this comfort food [and favorite merienda] SAMPELOT, and comes with bilo-bilo!

    Yes, it’s much cooler the last few days, Jun; however, we have to bring skinny back para sa holiday photos, LOL. 

  • foodwanderings

    Aww Jun you are so gifted. Off the bat when you started writing about the it brought back memories of my childhood waking up early and as I step out I could not see 2 meters in front of me and how quickly it dissipates the eery fog that is. This dish is so comforting I am looking for some new ones for me to experiment with. Looks delicious as always!!

  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen

    What gorgeous photos of the ginataang halo-halo! I loved how it reminds you of your Mom’s cooking. Thanks for sharing another classic recipe that we all love. This will never get old !

  • Alvin

    It’s cold and damp right now in Toronto.  This would be the perfect pick-me-upper.

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes.. I wish you can just ups it to us…its sound good right now and I am too lazy to make it myself. :0)

  • SamanthaFoodGeek

    This looks so good…say, where’s my bowl? ;>


    Jun, I need a bowl of this.  STL has been windy and chilly… a bowl of ginataan will comfort me from this cold weather.
    My favorite among all the sahog is the langka.  yum!

  • Jeannie

    I love this sweet dessert, it is similar to what we called bubur cha cha here:)

  • Ateana

    Jun, ginutom mo naman ako at paborito ko pa naman yan.

  • Adora’s Box

    Lovely to have that on a cold day especially if someone else cooked it for you. I remember liking it in hot weather, too. I know what you mean, I think I have more allergies when the weather turns cold. 

  • Iya S. Santos


  • Teng


  • Indonesia Eats

    I often ejoy halo halo in Winnipeg for summer treat as no es campur (Indonesian iced mix similar to halo halo) is selling in town :)

    Surely I learned a lot of Tagalog’s food term from my Filipina friends.

  • Jun Belen

    That makes two of you! I’ve never really enjoyed ginataan chilled like champorado.  I would wait and have my champorado chilled rather than piping hot.  But ginataan?  Love it hot and fresh from the pot.  Best part are the saba bananas and langka.

  • Young Alvan

    Hey Jun, thank you for sharing this! This dish is part of C2 Classic Cuisine’s featured merienda paired with their streetfood for their unlimited merienda promo. You may check out this site and review if their guinataang halo-halo will pass your standards. ;) hehe

  • Eva

    Hi! I’ve just discovered your blog.  Many congratulations on such fine writing and photography.
    This is my favourite dessert of all time.  Thanks for sharing and I will be making this soon following your recipe.

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Eva for the note and the for subscribing to the blog.  A bowl of hot ginataan with lots of saba bananas and langka is pure comfort food.  Let me know how your ginataan goes and I hope you’ll return for more recipes!

  • U8mypinkcookies

    this is one of my favorites!!

  • jbag

    aloha jun,
    enjoying your blog and photos. hope you’ll visit Oahu too and see the beautiful beaches and diamond head but many more and of course yummy filipino foods just about every stop in our town. we got jollibee to max’s. keep up the good work!

  • Jun Belen

    Aloha to you, too. Thank you for your kind words.  I love Oahu! I’ve visited the island once many years ago and loved it! Beautiful Waikiki, Diamond Head, and the bay where we snorkeled whose name escapes me right now.  The island definitely reminds me of home, of the Philippines.  I hope you tell your friends and family about the blog.  Maraming salamat!

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