Pumpkin, Red Lentil & Carrot Soup

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.

 

Ingredients:

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

 

Method:

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.

 

 

Pumpkin, Spinach & Feta Spelt Muffins

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.

 

Ingredients:

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

 

 

Method:

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.