One of my favourite things about winter is being able to cook more lovely nourishing soups. Pumpkin soup is a definite favourite in our house, so I've given it a bit of a protein boost with some red lentils, to make this soup a super healthy and hearty meal. Pumpkin is a wonderfully rich source of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A by the body. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant and immune enhancer. It also helps support healthy eyesight and gums. Red lentils are a highly nutritious legume and a fabulous source of iron, which is an important mineral needed to build red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. Lentils are also high fibre, for good bowel health, and zinc, which helps strengthen the immune system to fight off infections, as well as being essential for male and female reproductive health. And not to forget all that lovely garlic that will help prevent colds and flu this winter, as well as helping lower your cholesterol levels. Make an extra big batch so you can freeze some for meals during the week. I love to stir a spoonful of either Greek yoghurt or pesto through the top of this tasty soup, and serve it with some crusty grainy toast drizzled in flaxseed.
1/4 kent pumpkin
2 large carrots
1 celery stalk
3 cloves of garlic
Small handful of sliced leek
1/2 cup dried red lentils
2 cups water
Season with sea salt and pepper
Top with a spoonful of pesto or Greek yoghurt
In a large saucepan heat some olive oil and add pumpkin, and carrots and cook for around 4 minutes, then add in leek and garlic and celery and cook for a further few minutes.
Add 2 cups of boiling water and then add in lentils. Bring to the boil and then turn down to low heat. Season with sea salt and some pepper and leave to cook for 30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes and add extra water if needed.
Mix with a hand blender and then serve topped with either pesto or Greek yoghurt, along with some crusty wholegrain toast drizzled with flaxseed oil. Avocado toast is also lovely with soup.
I was experimenting in the kitchen yesterday for something yummy to give my family after dinner, and I came up with these heavenly little gluten-free 'banana & walnut custard puddings'. They're packed with protein and full of nutritious ingredients like almonds and walnuts which are a great source of brain healthy fats, along with calcium and vitamin E. Banana's are loaded with potassium to help keep your blood pressure down and B vitamins for energy. Using coconut oil is a great alternative to butter and vegetable oils in baked goods. Coconut oil has anti-fungal properties, as well as being a great source of fuel for your body and brain. Coconut oil has the added health benefit of not turning into a harmful trans-fat when heated. If you don't have any coconut oil you could also use a 'light' olive oil (that doesn't have a strong olive taste). These perfect little puddings are delicious served warm on their own, or with stewed fruit. If you manage to have any leftover they make a great treat with a cuppa the next day.....I'm just munching on the last one now :)
2 cup almond flour
1 Tbsp baking powder (gluten-free)
1/3 cup organic raw honey
3 organic eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 ripe banana
9 whole walnuts
2 Tbsp of gluten-free custard powder
1 Tbsp of raw honey
1 cup organic milk
extra 3 Tbsp of milk
Preheat oven at 170*C.
Grease and place grease proof paper circles in muffin tray holes.
Mix custard powder with 3 Tbsp of milk in a small bowl, and stir until well combined. Pour into small saucepan over a medium heat and add the cup the milk. Keep stirring until custard starts to thicken. Then turn heat off and leave until it cools.
Place all other ingredients in food processer and blend until well combined.
Pour some of the mixture into 9 of the cup holes, so it fills half the muffin cup.
Add a few teaspoons of custard mixture into the centre of each of the puddings, then top with more pudding mixture. Top each pudding with a whole walnut
Bake for 30 minutes, then enjoy warm.
Makes 9 individual puddings.
These super healthy 'choc almond & seed protein balls' are just what you need to beat those afternoon munchies. These balls are packed with protein, which is not only essential for repairing and rejuvenating the body, but is also one of the best ways to stop sugar cravings in their tracks. These little beauties are also rich in fibre for good bowel health. The dates will have you as regular as clockwork. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are both excellent sources of zinc, which is an important mineral for reproductive health for males and females, as well as helping support healthy immune function. Almonds are full of bone strengthening calcium and heart healthy fats. I like to use Sunwarrior fermented brown rice protein powder as it is an excellent source of quality protein, which is easy to digest, and dairy-free so it won't cause any bloating or wind, which is commonly associated with whey based powders. It is also packed with B vitamins and other health promoting nutrients. I made these protein balls for my little girls lunch box this week. Children need plenty of protein in their diets for optimal growth and development. If your child goes to a 'nut-free' school you can replace the almond butter with tahini, and the almond meal with sesame seeds.
40 dates (sulfur-free)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 Tablespoons cold pressed coconut oil
2 Tablespoons almond butter
5 Tablespoons of chocolate Sunwarrior brown rice protein powder
Almond meal or sesame seeds to roll balls in
Soak dates in warm water for 5 minutes.
Add all dry ingredients to your food processor and pulse until well combined, then pour into a small bowl.
Add dates, coconut oil, almond butter to food processor and blend well.
Pour dry mixture back into food processor and blend well with date mixture.
Make individual balls with mixture and then roll in either almond meal or sesame seeds. Store in the fridge in an air tight container.
Makes a dozen medium sized balls.
It's hard to top these 'pumpkin, spinach & feta spelt muffins' warm straight from the oven. These muffins go beautifully with soups, or eaten warm as a tasty snack. I'm going to pop one in my little girls lunch box tomorrow. The rich orange colour of a pumpkin tells us that they are a great source of beta-carotene, a highly effective antioxidant and immune strengthening nutrient. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, which helps promote good eyesight and healthy gums. Spinach provides us with plenty of blood building iron, as well as vitamin K for strong healthy bones, and folate an important vitamin for pregnant women. Cheese is rich in calcium, protein and vitamin D, all important bone building nutrients. Adding some pumpkin and sunflower seeds to these muffins will give them a boost in zinc, which is essential for reproductive health and wound healing. Zinc is particularly important for men, to produce healthy good quality sperm and to prevent prostate cancer. I really like cooking with spelt as it makes a lovely light textured muffin. Spelt is an ancient species of wheat so it does contain gluten, but it tends to be easier to digest than regular wheat, and can be tolerated by many who are sensitive to wheat. Spelt has a higher protein and fibre content compared to wheat too.
Dice up 2 cups of jap pumpkin
A big handful of baby spinach, chopped
½ cup grated low-fat tasty cheese
100g of low-fat feta, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp of sunflower seeds
2 organic eggs
¾ cup organic milk
2 cups organic spelt flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp of pumpkin seeds for topping
Preheat oven to 200*C. Grease a 12 hole muffin tray.
Steam pumpkin until soft and put it in a medium bowl. Add grated cheese and feta, sunflower seeds, and spinach, and gently mix.
In another bowl whisk eggs and milk together. Then stir through flour and baking powder, and add mixture to pumpkin mix. Gently combine mixture, making sure you don’t over do it.
Spoon muffin mixture into muffin tray and sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top. Then bake for 20 minutes. Check that a skewer comes out cleanly.
Makes 12 tasty muffins.