I love it when I find other reasons to eat healthfully besides health-related. It increases my motivation to put in the extra effort when I'm not feeling super motivated. So in the wake of Halloween with its leftover pumpkins and in line with Fall's beautiful orange hues, here's two recipes (Rosemary Roasted Pumpkin and Cream of White Bean, Carrot and Ginger Soup) to get your dose of immune supporting nutrients to ward of cold season and boost your intake of beauty enhancing nutrients in spite of Daylight Savings Time. These recipes' ingredients offer tons of health benefit but for brevity I won't elaborate on all the ingredients. However ginger, cayenne, rosemary (spices & herbs generally) provide extra antioxidants, so build that collection and use often!
Both carrots and pumpkin contain vitamin C and carotenoids that are well known for counteracting inflammation and enhancing immunity, but did you know when researchers fed research participants a high carotenoid diet (mostly yellow, red, orange fruits and veggies, but also dark greens like spinach, kale, collards) they were rated more attractive than people who spent time in a tanning bed to achieve that "healthy glow?"
Another study even quantified it...if your goal is to be healthier eat 2.9 servings of yellow/orange produce daily, but if you also want to be rated as more attractive simply add about a half serving more-eat 3.3 servings daily. The study lasted 6 weeks, leading the authors to conclude that modest increases (in carotenoid consumption) lead to better health AND radiant skin. What a wonderful double benefit! We can thank researchers out in the UK for this research-even if it seems vain, in my eyes it really adds just another reason to eat healthier.
To keep this post short just a few practical notes:
- If you've made your pumpkins into Jack-o-Lantern's they must remain the eye candy that they are for food safety purposes.
-You can still make this recipe with acorn or butternut squash...
-Or take advantage of the post Halloween 99 cent pumpkin sales (like my dad did). He remembered a time when I made a lot of pumpkin dishes and after a missed his call about whether I wanted any, he erred on the side of caution and bought a bunch.
-The spray olive oils are very convenient to evenly distribute oil.
-Enjoy the seeds (health benefit: high in zinc)-season with salt and pepper, roast 10-20 minutes at 160-170 degrees F to retain the best health benefit.
-No need to peel the carrots in the soup since you won't really see them (save time and nutrient retention).
-If you shop at Giant, the Nature's Promise 5 lb bag of organic carrots is only $5 ($1 per lb!).
-Don't like rosemary? Salt and pepper alone tastes great too or get creative with different spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika. I change it up based on what I'm serving, but use the baking time and temp below.
To your health,
photo credit: Me :)
Rosemary Roasted Pumpkin
1 small pumpkin or winter squash, skin removed (how to click here), cut into bite sized pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2-1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (doesn't make it spicy)
ONE. Preheat oven to 450F. Add pumpkin or squash pieces to baking sheet.
TWO. Drizzle with olive oil or use olive oil spray. Sprinkle seasonings overtop. Shake pan or lightly turn pieces with your fingers so seasonings cover all sides.
THREE. Roast for 20 minutes. If you think about it shake the baking sheet at 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Cream of White Bean Carrot Ginger Soup with Cashews
By: Me (for Clean Eating Magazine), but slightly modified version below with more salt and liberalization of broth options
SERVES 8 (one cup servings).
HANDS-ON TIME: 20 minutes. TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes.
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 qt vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb carrots coarsely chopped
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
½ cup chopped fresh chives
2½ oz roasted unsalted cashews, finely chopped
ONE: Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Add onion; sauté until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.
TWO: Add broth, water, beans, carrots, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Remove and discard bay leaves.
THREE: Using an immersion blender or blender, puree soup, working in batches if necessary. (TIP: If using a blender use caution with hot liquid by filling blender halfway and cover the lid with a dishtowel.)