Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Almost every winter I get on this soup kick where all I want is soups. They’re so simple and comforting, and an easy way to flood your body with nutrients. This year I figured I’d get started early to have a few favourites up my sleeve for when the winter truly sets in. I love how easy they are to reheat the next day and how well they freeze. I’m all over “reheat + repeat” dinners at the moment, especially with two young children and a husband who travels a lot for work. There’s nothing like making a big pot of soup that saves you time making dinner for the next couple of nights. And on the note of minimising time spent in the kitchen, one of the best things about this soup is that it also doubles perfectly as a base for curries. Simply add chopped vegetables of your choice, meat and/or legumes, and some extra herbs + spices, and you’ve got a beautiful and super nutritious curry made from scratch.

Local green markets are bursting with all varieties and sizes of squash and pumpkins at the moment, so I figured I’d start off with a seasonal favourite. Since I tend to get a little bored with the sweetness of regular butternut squash soups I added Thai red curry paste and chilli to spice up the flavours, and the result was fantastic.

Nutritionally butternut squash is loaded with antioxidant carotenoids that protect our body cells from damaging free radicals. It is particularly rich in two other powerful antioxidants known as zeaxanthin and lutein, both of which are known to protect our vision from damaging UV + blue light radiation. Basically, the more zeaxanthin and lutein you have in your diet – the lower your chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, leading to blindness later in life. Aside from promoting healthy vision, carotenoids are also amazing for our skin cells, making this soup great skin food! In fact, carotenoids have shown to improve the skin’s overall glow, which is totally appropriate for winter!

As for other nutrients, squash has high levels of vitamin A + C, as well as some vitamin E, almost all of the B vitamins and important minerals, including magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, and zinc. Despite its subtle and buttery flavour, it is also an amazing source of dietary fibre, with 6 gm fibre per cup of steamed squash, making it very satisfying and great for digestive health.

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This soup is suitable for those who are gluten and dairy free as well as those following a vegan or paleo diet.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup
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Recipe type: Main
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Serves: serves 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 500 gm butternut squash, chopped
  • 100 gm carrots, chopped (approx. 2 medium carrots)
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tsp Thai red chilli paste (alternatively you can use 1-2 tsp chilli powder/flakes instead)
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds, ground
  • ½ tsp fresh grated ginger
  • Salt + pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil in a saucepan and sauté garlic and onion for a few minutes until the onions become translucent.
  2. Add the butternut squash, carrots, vegetable stock, bay leaf, thyme, red curry paste and coriander seeds and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, take out the bay leaf and add the coconut milk. Pour the soup into your blender and puree on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth and creamy.
  4. Return the soup to the saucepan and warm it over low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve, pour the soup into bowls and garnish with chilli flakes and pumpkin seeds (optional)

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

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Cleansing GLOW Smoothie

This smoothie is called the cleansing GLOW smoothie for a reason. It is a health + immune boosting nutritional  goldmine that will do wonders for your body – nourishing it from the inside out while kicking flu season in the face! It is fabulous for your skin, circulation and digestive health and tastes amazing.

cleansing glow smoothie

It really has the consistency of a juice more than a smoothie even though it is blended – so don’t worry, you won’t need a juicer to whip this up at home. A super simple combination of fresh cucumber, raw ginger root, lemon and antioxidant-packed goji berries, this smoothie juice is not only refreshing but full of kick from the raw ginger and lemon that is sure to energise you and your insides instantly. I love having this smoothie first thing in the morning before any food while the body is still in “cleansing mode” from the night fast. Having it before food enhances the cleansing qualities and allows the body to effectively absorb all the nutrients. That said, I do often save some leftovers for the afternoon as I find it really helps me overcome any energy slumps and sweet cravings. Aside from its cleansing effects, it is also brimming with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which I’ll explain more about below. If you, like me, isn’t a huge fan of ginger don’t write this off just yet. I dislike ginger in most things (ironically it reminds me of morning sickness), but admit that juices are the exception. As far as this one goes, the more ginger the better – and knowing just how good it is for my body really helps too. You can, of course, adjust the amount you use and gradually increase to reap more of the benefits this amazing root has to offer.

cleansing glow smoothie

Ingredients… Here’s what’s good about them…

Ginger is an incredibly root – highly anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants, it helps stimulate digestion and soothes the digestive tract, making it great for those with stomach and digestive troubles. Ginger is also a fabulous for improving circulation and helps give your skin an amazing glow.

Lemon is bitter and nutritious and full of cleansing properties – hence why many cultures have traditionally practised having lemon in warm water first thing in the morning. Personally I get pretty bored with lemon in hot water and find that this juice is a great alternative. Lemon is also packed with vitamin C, is a great immune booster and powerful antioxidant that help protect against cell damage and signs of ageing.

A large percentage of this juice is cucumber, which is not only very hydrating but also great for your skin. The phytochemicals in cucumber help the collagen in the skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer of your skin while also reducing the visibility of cellulite. Cucumbers are high in vitamin K and a good source of B vitamins zinc, vitamin C as well as the beauty mineral, silica.

Renowned for being super charged with a variety of powerful antioxidants, goji berries are also high in protein, fibre and vitamin A, E + C. They add a great colour, boost the nutritional benefit and add a subtle sweetness that makes this juice extra tasty.

As the recipe notes, you can make this with water or coconut water. I like using a mix, and the addition of raw coconut water is super delicious as it also add that exotic flavour and a bit of sweetness. Personally I love this brand of coconut water, but obviously if you have access to the real deal that is even better!

Cleansing GLOW Smoothie
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Recipe type: Drink
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Serves: 600 ml (20 fl oz)
Ingredients
  • 200 gm organic cucumber
  • Juice from 1½ lemons (1/2 cup / 120 ml)
  • 1 tbsp goji berries (pre soaked in water for 5 mins)
  • 1 knob fresh ginger, grated (I use around 30 gm / 1 oz)
  • 1½ cups (360ml) water or 100% raw coconut water - or a mix of both.
  • A little raw honey or few drops liquid stevia (OPTIONAL)
Instructions
  1. Place goji berries in a little water and let them soak for 5 mins. Drain and place the goji berries in a high speed blender.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients to the blender (I used a Vitamix) and blend on high for about a minute.
  3. Add honey/stevia to taste (if using) and blend again.
  4. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge (consume within 24 hours for optimal nutritional benefit).

On an entirely different note, I have returned to my long abandoned Nyoutritious instagram account. So head on over to instagram and follow me under @nyoutritious for daily inspiration + tips relevant to everything healthy and nutritious.

Thank you!

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Fig + Walnut Muffins

Fig walnut muffins

I’m all over this fall weather and have been channeling my inner baker this week. During the summer months I barely bake, and tend to spend the majority of my time outside. So, when autumn finally kicks in I’m all about being cosy… big knits (admittedly, we’re not quite there yet), cinnamon tea, and candles everywhere… and, I’m also one of those people who starts getting excited about christmas before people start thinking about halloween.

These healthy fig + walnut muffins are a result of my cosy fall madness. They’re great treat and will fill your house with the sweet smell of cinnamon… as a bonus they are healthy, and enough so to be enjoyed for a weekend breakfast. Featuring nutritious unrefined whole grain spelt flour and omega 3 rich walnuts, these muffins are only lightly sweetened with maple syrup (only 3 tbsp in the entire recipe!) + the dried figs, which are high in fibre as well as a good source of calcium and iron. I added a generous amount of cinnamon, which helps call out all the sweet flavours while also adding some great health benefits. (Read more about that here… How cinnamon benefits our health).

fig walnut collage

Adapted from this recipe Blueberry Spelt Muffins 

Fig + Walnut Muffins
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Recipe type: Cake
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Serves: 8-10 muffins
Ingredients
  • 2 organic free range eggs (medium sized)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) maple syrup (honey and agave syrup will work too)
  • 3 tbsp (30 ml) virgin coconut oil, melted (alternatively you can use macadamia oil)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar (to activate baking soda)
  • ⅓ cup (50 gm) unrefined whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk or water
  • 75 gm ( 2½ oz) figs, chopped
  • 60 gm (2 oz) walnuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
  2. Whisk eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl.
  3. Add water (or coconut milk) and chia seeds and combine well.
  4. Leave to set for 10 mins to allow the chia seeds to expand.
  5. In a separate bowl combine, spelt flour baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  6. Add the dry flour mix to the bowl with eggs and chia seeds, mixing well with a spoon until the batter has a smooth consistency.
  7. Chop the walnuts and dried figs into smaller pieces and fold into the batter.
  8. Scoop out 2-3 tbsp of muffin batter into muffin cases (the batter should give you approx. 8-10 muffins depending on the size of your muffin cases).
  9. Place the muffins in the oven and bake at 150°C (300°F) for 12-15 mins. (Keep in mind that baking time may vary between different ovens so keep a close eye on the after the first 10 mins.).

Fig walnut muffins

Happy fall!

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Flax Crackers

flax crackers

Everyone loves a healthy cracker. Unfortunately, they’re not easy to come by as most store-bought varieties are made primarily from over processed white flour and vegetable fats. Since my chia seed crackers have been one of my most popular recipes on the blog so far, I thought I’d try my hand at a slightly different type – featuring another omega 3 rich super seed… flax seeds.

These crackers are as simple as 5 ingredients. Plus they are vegan, gluten free, dairy free and suitable for those who avoid grains (and paleo friendly for those of you who include buckwheat – which is technically a seed).

I love how filling and tasty these are. Nutritionally they are loaded with healthy fats and fibre, which is key for healthy digestion and staying satisfied longer. I find that they are a great snack when I get hungry but only have one hand free to grab something quick… eating with two hands seems to be a thing of the past with a newborn in the house. Ha!

I love these sprinkled with poppy seeds (as pictured) but, as the recipe notes, they are completely optional. As an alternative, you can use sesame seeds or chopped pumpkin seeds – or you can simply leave them plain. They will be great either way!

flax crackers

The trickiest part of making these is to get the dough rolled out thin and evenly on the parchment paper and getting the baking time right. For more specific instructions on how to roll the dough out follow the instructions from my chia seed crackers. Since every oven is different, you have to keep a close eye on them the first time you make them to get the timing right. As noted in the recipe below, if you notice some of your crackers aren’t completely crispy, simply give them a few extra minutes in the oven and cool again. The effort will be well worth it!
On one last note, it is important you use a parchment paper that is non stick! I personally love this brand, which is not only amazingly non-stick but also totally unbleached and chlorine free.

Flax Crackers
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Recipe type: Snack
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup (240 ml) flax seeds
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3 tbsp buckwheat flour
  • 2-3 tbsp seeds to sprinkle on top (OPTIONAL) - sesame, pumpkin or poppy seeds all work well
Instructions
  1. Set oven to 150°C (300°F) fan force.
  2. Combine flax seeds and water and leave to set for at least 1 hour (you can do overnight as well).
  3. Add salt, buckwheat flour and olive oil and mix well with a spoon until the mixture resembles a sticky medium thick dough.
  4. Spread the batter as thinly and evenly on a large piece of non-stick parchment paper. You can spread the batter with either a butter knife or a using a second piece of parchment paper on top while spreading out the batter with your hands.
  5. Drizzle the poppy seeds evenly on the batter before cutting the batter into squares using a knife or pizza cutter.
  6. Bake at 150°C (300°F) for 35-45 mins until completely crisp (oven time may vary between different ovens so keep a close eye on them after 30 mins).
  7. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 mins. If certain pieces are not completely crisp give them an extra 5 mins in the oven.

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