Roasted Pumpkin & Coconut Soup

I made some fun fall food purchases last week! Trader Joe’s had Brussel sprouts on the stalk- which I’ll post a simple recipe for later- and Sprouts had small pie pumpkins on sale. To be honest, I had never made anything with a real pumpkin. I’ve been using canned pumpkin for what seems like forever! But one time I tried using canned pumpkin for a soup recipe…and there’s no nice way to describe how that recipe turned out. My love of soups told me I had to try again, and this time with a real pumpkin. I put it off for a looooong time- I mean years- until these adorable little pumpkins showed up at Sprouts.

 

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Roasted Pumpkin & Coconut Soup:

1 small pie pumpkin, cut into 2” pieces

½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

½ can light coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon coconut oil for roasting pumpkin and sautéing onion

 

I will warn everyone out there that you’ll want a sharp knife for cutting the pumpkin. I cut mine in half, seeded it (saving seeds for roasting later), then cut into smaller pieces (about 2”x2”). After roasting, I allowed the pumpkin to cool off enough to remove the skin.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place pumpkin on a lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Brush pieces with coconut oil. Bake 25-35 minutes or until pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork. Allow to cool, remove peel.

While pumpkin is roasting, saute onion in a sauce pan with 1 tsp coconut oil until slightly browned. Add chicken broth and coconut milk to onions.

After you peel the pumpkin, place pieces in blender and cover with the onion, broth, coconut milk mixture. Add salt and pepper. Puree to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste.

 

NOTE: I used a vitamix for this recipe so I was able to make my soup in one batch. If you have a traditional blender, you may want to puree smaller amounts.

This recipe has a lot of room for changes. Butternut squash can be used in place of pumpkin, red or white onion can be substituted for yellow, and vegetable broth can be used for vegetarians. If you like your soup a little sweeter, you can add ½ a green apple (cored and chopped). If you like a little more spice, you can add a pinch of curry powder or nutmeg. If you can’t stand coconut, you can use heavy cream- although I recommend not using dairy products as they tend to promote inflammation in the body. I would not say I’m a huge coconut fan usually, but I love the way this soup turned out!

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

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Justification for all the great pumpkin recipes out there:

1. Great for weight loss!

One cup of cooked pumpkin has between 60-80 calories and up to 7 grams of fiber, meaning it will keep you feeling full longer. Studies have shown that fiber lowers the glycemic load of a meal, preventing blood sugar spikes and excess insulin output that leads to insulin resistance. This means that eating pumpkin can help you maintain a stable blood sugar, which helps fight sugar cravings, and overall can help you lose weight.

2. Eating pumpkin can brighten eyes, skin, and prevent cancer!

One cup of pumpkin provides 200-700% of the daily value of vitamin A.  Vitamin A and carotenoids (the phytonutrient that gives pumpkin their orange color) are great for eye and skin health. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which is important in keeping eyesight sharp, especially in dim light. Vitamin A and carotenoids brighten skin by reducing sebum production and preventing acne. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, protecting skin from the damaging effects of the sun and preventing skin cancer.

3. Great for post workout recovery!

For any of you who have ever experienced muscle cramps following exercise, you may need to be replacing electrolytes- especially potassium and magnesium. We’ve all heard that bananas are a good source of potassium, but did you know that pumpkins are even higher in potassium than bananas with 500 mg per one cup serving? Pumpkins also have 14% of the recommended daily value for magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure and prevent muscle cramps. Try this delicious smoothie following your next workout!

4. Great source of iron!

Dietary iron is necessary for preventing iron deficiency anemia. Iron is used to produce hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for carrying oxygen in our red blood cells. Without enough iron, we can’t make hemoglobin and our red blood cells can’t transport enough oxygen to our tissues. This can cause fatigue, exercise intolerance, and heart palpitations. Foods we usually think of as being high in iron are red meat, and dark green leafy vegetables, but pumpkin is also a great source of iron with 1 cup containing 20% of the recommended daily value. Pumpkin also contains 17% of the daily value for vitamin C, which is great for enhancing iron absorption.

5. Pumpkin is highly anti-inflammatory!

Inflammation is what we think of with all the disease processes ending in “-itis.” But many other diseases are thought to be triggered by inflammation (cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even Alzhemiers). Inflammatory foods are those that are processed, high in sugar, trans fats, are too high in omega-6 fatty acids (think agri-industry meat) and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. Anti-inflammatory foods are high in vitamins, minerals and compounds called phytonutrients and phytosterols- found in plants and unprocessed whole grains. Wild caught, cold water fish (high in omega 3s) is also considered anti-inflammatory. Pumpkin- in minimally processed form- is considered highly anti-inflammatory as it is high in phytonutrients and fiber, and low in sugar!

Easy Pumpkin Oats

The mornings have been chilly here in Tucson and considering I’m not much of a morning person AND I’m not crazy about cold weather, I needed something warm and delicious to get me out of bed this AM. I thought, “why not keep up the pumpkin recipes with some stick to your ribs pumpkin oatmeal?” Actually, in my bleary-eyed state I just pulled a bunch of things out of the fridge and this combination was the easiest to make for breakfast. With my warm bowl of oats in hand, I curled up on the couch under a blanket to watch the morning news with my favorite golden retriever.

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Pumpkin Oatmeal

1 cup precooked oatmeal (I like steel cut oats best, but you can use any type of oatmeal you prefer)

3 tablespoons canned pureed pumpkin (I think using organic pumpkin makes a huge difference in taste)

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons toasted pepitas

Stir precooked oats, pumpkin and spices together in microwave proof bowl. Microwave 1 min 30 sec. Meanwhile, toast pepitas on the stove top in a dry frying pan (about 1 minute). Top oatmeal with pepitas and drizzle with maple syrup.

What get’s you out of bed in the morning?

5 diet tips to kick your seasonal allergies

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Fall should be a time to enjoy the outdoors, admire changing leaves, and revel in cooler temperatures. But with increasing global temperatures and changing wind patterns, seasonal allergies at an all time high this fall. I can’t tell you how many friends, colleagues and patients I’ve seen suffering with itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throats, sneezing and general allergy misery. Seasonal allergies can be tricky to treat, but the following simple diet tips may help alleviate your allergy symptoms long term. Best part- none of the drowsy-ing side effects of anti-histamines!

1. Avoid your food sensitivities!

The most common sensitivities are wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, and nuts. You can try an elimination diet or have your doctor order a food sensitivity panel which detects antibodies in your blood to specific foods. Avoiding these foods can decrease the inflammation in your body, helping to modulate your immune system so that it reacts less to the pollens, mold, and dust mites that are associated with seasonal allergies.

2. Alkalinize

When the body is in an acidic state, it is more prone to producing histamine- that molecule that makes us feel itchy. There are a few simple ways we can shift our bodies to a more alkaline state. First- start your day with a cup of warm water with a tablespoon of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar. This not only alkalinizes the body, but improves digestion. Second- eat more vegetables! Third- eat less animal fat and red meat, which increase the production of arachadonic acid- a molecule associated with inflammation.

3. Eat whole foods

Emphasize whole grains, low animal fat and more fiber. This will encourage your body to gently and naturally decrease its toxin load, leaving it less likely to react to the common allergens.

4. Increase healthy dietary fat

Healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, wild-caught salmon, and flax. These healthy fats convert to a molecule called prostaglandin-3 (PGE-3) which acts an an anti-inflammatory in the body.

5. Decrease sugar consumption

Sugar not only acidifies the body, it encourages the production of inflammation. So even though the sugar doesn’t necessarily cause allergies, it can make your symptoms significantly worse. Sugars include refined white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup and alcohol. Small amounts of local, raw honey can actually help seasonal allergies! (Make sure never to give honey to children under the age of one)

To learn more about how you can control your seasonal allergies or for information regarding food sensitivity testing, call Integrative Medical Associates  at (520) 297-9664 and ask to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rose

 

Guilt free pumpkin pancakes!

OK…they would be guilt free had I not added a pat of butter (grass-fed organic cream), maple syrup, and roasted coconut chips! But I knew I had a lot to accomplish this Sunday, including a long work out, so I needed something that could hold me through til dinner. There’s just something about eating cake (who are we kidding, pancakes are cake) for breakfast that makes waking up early on a Sunday morning worth it. It’s even better when the cake you’re eating is grain free and high in protein! I’ve been getting requests for these pancakes every weekend since the weather cooled off.

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Pumpkin Pancakes

  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder (optional, although I liked the pancakes better with protein powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • coconut oil for cooking pancakes

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Mix wet ingredients together in small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Heat griddle or large cast iron skillet on medium. Coat with coconut oil. I used a ¼ cup measuring cup for each pancake. Cook 3-4 minutes or until firm enough to flip, then appx 2 more minutes on second side. This recipe makes 6-8 medium sized pancakes (5” diameter). Enjoy!!

Pumpkin Time…

 

 

I’m not one of those people who loves fall. It means cold is coming. I live in Arizona so I can avoid cold. I do however love pumpkin: pumpkin candles, mini pumpkin decorations, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer, pumpkin butter…am I sounding like Bubba from Forrest Gump yet? I’ve been experimenting with several sweet and savory pumpkin dishes. There’s at least one for every day this week, so I hope you don’t get tired of pumpkin too quickly!

 

Pumpkin Cookies (grain free, vegan, and dangerously tasty!)

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¾ cup creamy almond butter

½ cup canned pumpkin

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp pumpkin spice

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp fine sea salt

½ cup almond flour

¼ tsp baking soda

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 10-15 minutes on a cookie sheet lightly greased with coconut oil.

These should make 2 dozen cookies. I say “should” because these don’t have egg in them…meaning we ate a good deal of the dough and will never know exactly how many cookies this made. The recipe was adapted from one of my favorite blogs- Detoxinista. I wanted my cookies to be less gooey- hence the almond flour and baking soda additions. These lasted in our house for two days- I don’t mean they went bad, I mean that they were eaten in less than 48 hrs.

Rise and Shine!

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“Rise and Shine!” Detox Juice

This recipe made 20 oz:

2 large fuji apples

½ head green cabbage

2 large carrots

1 1/2” ginger, peeled

This juice is packed with nutrients to help your body function at optimal levels, leaving you shining on the inside and out! The antioxidants (quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2) found in apples will help combat the free-radicals associated with aging and cardiovascular disease.  Cabbage is a great source of vitamin C and glucosinolates, both of which are powerful cancer fighters. The compounds in cabbage also break down into indole-3-carbinol, which helps your liver process hormones. A cleaner liver means clearer skin and reduced symptoms of PMS in women! Carrots are high in beta-carotene which is associated with improved skin and eye health. Ginger is not only great for digestion but has compounds linked to reduced inflammation, better immunity, and protection from ovarian and colon cancer. You can’t go wrong with this juice!