Apple & Pumpkin Soup

Apple & Pumpkin Soup

 

Halloween has just been (and the Christmas decorations are already appearing around the place!) but for all my U.S friends Thanksgiving is just around the corner. So I suppose it is still pumpkin season.

I was contemplating the other day how nature seem to have provided us with a natural harmony of flavour pairings. It seems like many foods that are in season at the same time, go well together.

Like apple and blackberries, or apples and pumpkins. Or hazelnuts and mushrooms. Each season has its own charm, yet there’s something so comforting about the foods that comes with this time of the year. I don’t know about you but I naturally yearn for more stodgy food when the weather gets colder. Spicy soups, roasted root vegetables, strews. Less salads more strifries. That kind of thing.

I think I read somewhere you need to live a full year somewhere, through all the seasons, before you are fully rooted in your new environment. Not sure where I read it, but regardless, it has been my lived experience. Would you agree?

There are more seasonal recipe ideas to share, like an apple and blackberry crumble I have made on repeat lately, but have yet to photograph, a purple salad and maybe this year my own version of a mushroom soup, will make it here too.

Until then, I hope you will enjoy this pumpkin soup recipe!

apple-pumpkin soup

 

Apple & Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4

1 Hokkaido Pumpkin (Butternut Squash could work well too)

4 small or 2 big eating apples

1 yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin, ground

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp cinnamon

½ pinch of ground cloves

Approx. 1 litre stock

Sea salt & Black pepper to season

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

 

Heat oven to 200˚C. Make a few cuts in the whole pumpkin and then on a baking tray and roast for about 2h, until soft. Doing it this way, I’ve found make much less work than trying to wrestle with it in its uncooked state.

Once cooked and soft, set aside to cool. Once the pumpkin has cooled down, remove skin and seeds and roughly chop.

Chop onion, garlic and the apple into small pieces.

Heat a heavy based pan, add some olive oil. Then add garlic and onion and sauté until soft and translucent.

Add spices and fry off at a low heat for 1-2 min until fragrant. Add the apple pieces and the pumpkin pieces. Add the stock.

Bring to a lively simmer and cook for about 30min until the apple is soft.  Let the soup cool somewhat, add the red wine vinegar and then blend until smooth.

Season to taste. Add more liquid if you find the consistency too thick.

straightforward nutrition

 

Baked Sweet Potato with Warm Chickpeas, Sundried Tomatoes & Spinach

Baked Sweet Potato with Warm Chickpeas, Sundried Tomatoes & Spinach

 

What do you do when life throws you unexpected curve balls?

Do you go in to defense mode, get angry and start blaming yourself, and / or those around you?

Or do you recoil, and go into hiding out mode, become passive not knowing what to do?

Each life event, depending on what it is, will have us reacting in expected AND unexpected way. For some of them, we truly can have no idea how we will end up handling it until one day we are faced with it. Like loss and grief.

The month of October turned out to be one of a pivot point in my own life. One of  breaking point, where I realised I had gotten the end of my level of toleranc. And the only way out was letting go and move forward into the unknown in whatever way that would look like, as long as it was different from my current reality. Because how things were was no longer working.

It had become evident that it was time to move and find another place to house myself and my dogs.

Considering I had lived the past 8 years in the same spot, this did feel like a pretty daunting move, and I have had a whole lot of “excuses” to why I couldn’t make it happen any sooner…

But when push came to shove, I let go. And I did something that is very hard for me to do, I asked for help. What happened felt like nothing short of amazing!

Through one of my close friends I managed to find a suitable place, just a few miles away (which made hauling my belongings so much easier!) So in just one week I had moved in to my new home.

I doubt that I will live here for the next 8 years, but it is perfect for now, and gives me a lot of space to get back to creative mode again. Now that the initial stress and overwhelm have passed, I am actually excited to see what this new chapter of my life will bring.

baked sweet potato recipe

Change has not only just taken place in my own personal life…

You may also notice some minor changes to the blog?!

Like a NEW LOGO! And a new tagline. (This is the third tagline I have had since this website was birthed into life four years ago…)

Because, like I said, life is forever changing and evolving I felt it was time for a new logo, and tagline(!) to better reflect where I am at with my work and my message. So.This.Is.It.

 

I would love to know what you think of the new logo and tagline.

What does Wholehearted Living look like to you?

And when you hear Mindful Eating? What comes to mind?

 

To be honest, these past few weeks definitely put my intention of wholehearted living to the test. I realised why I have been working on myself over the year, reading umpteen self-help books, getting coaching, taking courses and training and gone to retreats. Because in the midst of it all, I realised that I have now lots of tools to draw upon, as well as kind supportive friends (thankfully) that is really beneficial when life takes unexpected turn like this. Which it inevitably will, it’s just part of being human and alive.

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So, just a small glimpse of my life, and the reason for why it’s been a little quiet on the blog.

Now let’s get to the recipe!

This is actually one of those “deconstructed” type recipes, based on a really delicious recipe by Dale Pinnock aka The Medicinal Chef. His books and recipes are fab and well worth checking out.

In his version the sweet potato is mashed and added on top of the cooked spinach and chickpeas, and then the blue cheese added before it is all baked in the oven. It is such a comforting dish! Perfect for this time of the year.

Here I have pared it down in to a baked potato version and serving the chickpeas et.al. on top instead.

It had been a really long time since I had a baked potato, something that was really popular in Sweden when I grew up. But with ordinary white potatoes instead. It is really a simple dish, that you can whip up anytime. Just don’t start the project of cooking one when you are already approaching a ravenous state of hunger though… As you do need a good 45 min for it to cook in the oven.

If you are cooking for a crowd, just double the quantities accordingly.

 

Baked Sweet Potato with Mashed Chickpeas & Sundried Tomatoes

Serves 1 (double quantities as necessary)

1 decent size sweet potato, washed, leave peel on

½ tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed

Approx. 7 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

A large handful  (about ½ cup) fresh spinach leaves, if using large leaves roughly chop them

½ tsp of smoked paprika powder

A pinch of cayenne pepper

50g blue cheese of choice

Sea salt & Black pepper, to season

 

Heat the oven to 200˚C. Place your sweet potato(s) on a baking tray and put in the oven. Cook for approx. 45 min until it is soft right the way through.

To make the chickpea mash; Gently heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chickpeas, spices and seasoning. Cook on medium heat until heated through and then roughly mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork.

Add the spinach to the pan and cook for a few min until wilted down.

Take out your cooked sweet potato. Allow to cool slightly, make a cut through the middle and squeeze open. Then add the spinach-chickpea mix on top. Add some blue cheese or feta if you prefer to top it all off.

Serve and enjoy.

Baked Sweet Potato

 

Baked Apples with Spiced Nut butter & Dark chocolate

Baked Apples with Spiced Nut butter & Dark chocolate

Whilst I am chipping away at a non recipe blog post I thought I would share this seasonal favourite one of mine. It is funny because sometimes those types of posts almost writes themselves, and other times they require a bit more of an effort.

I picked up some really delicious Irish apples the other day when I was in Cork City. Ten apples for €2, so quiet a bargain. Which is so often the case when you buy locally grown or produced food that is in season.

To be honest, apples are not a fruit that I tend to include in my weekly shop on a regular basis. Bananas are my staple (not locally grown!), mostly because I love using them in smoothies. From there it can shift to whatever looks good and is reasonably priced.

Or if there’s something that looks interesting and that I haven’t tries before. Like green plums (seriously good), or kumquats, or just good old raspberries… You get the idea.

baked apple with spiced nut butter

Fresh slices of apple with some nut butter is a “classic” snack in nutrition circles. It’s easy, portable and give you that balanced combination of carbohydrates with fat and protein, that will prevent  your blood sugar from spiking too much.

But with the change of seasons, baking them whole in the oven is much more satisfying to me. And I suppose it I also means I am admitting that we have now left Summer behind, to get ready for wet and windy days, woolly jumpers, cozy hats, warm fires, darker evenings as well as beautiful clear skies with all the colourful glory that the autumn leaves brings.

 

Do I feel ready for this kind of transition? I don’t know… Are we every truly ready for any change in our lives, consciously chosen or not?

Yet it is the one certainty that we have.

And need to learn to live with.

The constant of change.

 

I began making baked apples like this about two years ago and since then this recipe have become an autumnal ritual of sorts. It is a lot less effort than you may think and only requires a few basic ingredients.

I tend to use eating apples rather than cooking apples for this.

 

Baked Apple with Spiced Nutbutter & Dark Chocolate

Recipe is based on one apple per person so double ingredients per amount of apples required.

 

1 crispy type of apple

20g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 tbsp nut butter, (hazelnut would be me personal preference)

½ tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice

Good quality ice cream, dairy free alternative or crème fraiché, to serve

 

Heat your oven to 180˚C. Cut the top off and then core the apple. If you have one of those tools to core an apple, lucky you! It will make it much easier.  If you don’t use a small knife to cut around the core and then remove it.

Place your apple(s) on a lined baking tray. In a small bowl mix nut butter and spices together until you have an evenly paste.

Stuff the core of the apple(s) with alternate teaspoons of nut butter and chocolate until it’s full. Place the top back on.

Bake the apple(s)  for about 30 min until the skin is soft and cracks and the flesh is fairly soft.

Serve warm with your choice of ice cream / cream / dairy free alternative.

baked apple with spiced nut butter

** Some interesting alternatives for stuffing would be to use some butter instead of the nut butter (if you can tolerate dairy). Or some almond paste.  You could make your own by blending ground almond with some maple syrup.

If you don’t have mixed spice, using ground cinnamon and / or cardamom would be delicious too!

Oh and I recently spotted this baked apple recipe over on Green Kitchen Stories. That looks pretty rad too.

And if you want to make your own nut butter go here.

Kale Salad with a Garlic-Tahini Dressing

Kale Salad with a Garlic-Tahini Dressing

 

So here we go with another kale salad recipe! Told you that I had an abundance…

I’ve also been thinking about my recipes and how I would like to try to give you some various alternatives, where ever and whenever it is possible.

We talk about Intuitive Eating, but what about intuitive cooking?

Not all dishes lend themselves to mix and matching, or making substitutes. If you are baking, it is probably best to follow the recipe closely if you are looking for a predictable outcome. Though if you have a strong desire to experiment and not feeling to concerned about the outcome, go for it and do try all kinds of weird and wonderful ingredients and combinations.

Just be clear that you may not end up with something edible… But sometimes it’s more about the process than the outcome right?

straightforward nutrition

When it comes to salads you are pretty safe experimenting away. Not too much can go haywire if you are using fresh, good quality ingredients to start with.

If you want to make a salad a decent meal, you have to (well you don’t have to, but I strongly recommend) that you follow the same plate concept as is recommended for balanced meals in general, if you want to make a salad that is a meal in itself and not just a simple side dish, that is.

The key, the secrete, whatever you want to call it, is to combine fat, protein with carbohydrates (which here will be mostly veg). If you leave out the fat and the protein from your salad and have just vegetables on their own, most likely you will end up not feeling full for very long, even though you may eat an actual large volume of food.

Each macro nutrient is digested differently, hence why this is.

From a mindful eating point of view, use your salad (or any meal for that matter) to explore how different foods effect your satiety and fullness. How long before you notice the need to eat again? There’s no right or wrong here, but it can be pretty useful information.

Anyway, let’s get to the recipe.

For potential substitutes for this particular salad:

Try different root veg like celeriac or maybe shredded purple cabbage.

Cannellini beans can be swapped for chickpeas or butter beans.

The walnuts can be swapped for toasted sunflower seeds or pecan nuts.

 

Kale Salad with Garlic-Tahini Dressing

Serves 4

6 large leaves of kale (any type of kale is fine), stems removed & finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely grated

¼ cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ cup cooked cannellini beans – swap for chickpeas or other beans if you wish

a handful of fresh walnuts, roughly chopped

Tahini dressing

3 tbsp tahini

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of ½ lemon

2-3 tbsp cold water to thin the dressing

Sea salt & Black pepper, to season

 

Start by making the dressing by placing the tahini, minced garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. With a fork mix them all together until you have a thick paste. Then add a tbsp. of water one by one until you have your desired consistency. You want to end up with a creamy dressing so don’t go too heavy handed with the water. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Place the chopped kale in a large salad bowl, add the dressing and with your hands gently massage it in so that the leaves wilt / soften a little..

Add the shredded carrots, the sundried tomatoes and the beans. Toss together until everything is evenly coated with the dressing

Add the chopped walnuts for some extra crunch.

Serve as is, or with your choice of meat / fish / egg if that takes your fancy.

mindful cooking

Looking for more kale salad ideas? Well I have a few oldies from the archives!

Kale Salad with orange-tahini dressing

Black quinoa & Kale salad with apples & toasted hazelnuts

Cavolo Nero Salad with a Mexican twist

And there are some kale in this green soup too…

Lemony Lentil Dahl

Lemony Lentil Dahl

I don’t know about you, but almost a week after the American Presidential election and even though at present it does not directly affect me on a personal level, I still feel a little flat.

It didn’t feel right sharing pictures of food on social media amidst so much tumult and as much as I normally try to limit my intake of news, it’s been almost impossible to NOT get sucked into the whole debacle… But if you are starting to worry that this post will become all political, no need. I will leave it right here, though I felt like I needed to make a note of it, as whether you live in the U.S or not, we are all human beings living on the same blue planet in this vast Universe. And perhaps it is about time that we wake up to the fact that what effects one does affect the whole. Even if it is not always felt immediately.

 

Lentil Dahl

 

This week I am planning on carry on from last’s week’s theme of Food + Love, but with a slightly different angle. The food (and friendship) angle!

This Lemony Lentil Dahl, is my take on a delicious meal that my dear friend Michele made for me this summer when I stayed with her in her home in Seattle, WA. It’s one of those simple and comforting type  of meals / dishes that I love so much. Even though I first tasted it in June it makes a great winter warmer, hence why I am sharing it with you all now.

With all that is ever ongoing in this world, my intention for this particular post is to celebrate the beauty of friendship and connection. I haven’t known Michele for much more than a year, yet if feels like we’ve already established a connection that runs much deeper than what short time we’ve known eachother.  You never know with whom you might connect, or where or when. Today we have perhaps more opportunities to connect with people than ever hadn’t it been for the Internet.  Me and Michele connected through an online mentorship programme and after many hours of Skype we eventually got to meet in person.

Straightforward Nutrition

Me & Michele on a hike in WA.

This whole experience brought it home to me again, that when it truly comes down to it, what matters most is people and the connections we establish with one another. It also highlighted the fact that even though we might come from different countries, with different backgrounds and upbringings, when we meet people who share the same values like ourselves, there’s an instant connection which goes beyond all of that, and one on which we can build a stronger bond going forward.

When I asked Michele for the recipe of this dish she told me that it was not “hers”. My understanding is that as long as, if you use someone else’s recipe word for word, (obviously!) full credit is due, but nobody has patent on ingredients or combination thereof. This lends itself to the beauty of creativity, possibility and change. Maybe even a celebration of the fact that nothing ever stays exactly the same…

So a bit like “Chinese Whispers” things can get lost in translation and we make our own interpretations. For better and for worse. This is my interpretation of Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl, and I’m sharing it here with you as a celebration of the possibilities that is connection and friendship (and food of course!)

*Please note that this recipe is one of those that has “fluid” measurements. So even though I have given some exact ones below, please feel free to experiment and adjust according to your own preferences both when it comes to taste and texture. More liquid will give a more soup-like consistency.*

Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl (With my interpretations)

Serves 2 (Double the recipe and make a large batch if you are feeding many or want to fill your freezer)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 large or 2 small yellow onions

250g red lentils

450 ml stock

3 lemons

½ tsp brown mustard seeds

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

½ tsp nigella seeds –optional

2 pods black cardamom – optional

4-5 large leaves of Swiss (Rainbow) Chard or Spinach

Sea salt and black pepper, to season

Place mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds and the seeds from the black cardamom pods, if using, in a pester and mortar and ground roughly.

Peel and chop the onions finely.

Heat the coconut oil on a heavy based large saucepan. Once the oil is warmed up, add all of the spices and fry off on low heat until fragrant. Add the chopped onion and fry off until translucent.

Rinse and drain the red lentils and add to the pan together with the stock. Give everything a good stir and then bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 20 min until the lentils start coming apart.

Add the juice of the two lemons. Taste and season accordingly. If you don’t think it is lemony enough, add more juice.

Wash and chop the chard / spinach roughly, stems and all and add to the Dahl. Keep stirring the Dahl until all of the chard / spinach has wilted down.

Serve warm in bowls. This recipe is one of those which tastes even better the following day, so it is well worth making some extra!

Lemony Lentil Dahl