I know some of you may totally disagree with me here but I love this time of year… The weathers changing, mornings consist of blue sky’s, a chill in the air and crisp autumnal leaves scatter the parks.
Walking my daughter to school and watching her throwing leaves up in the air is, to me what Autumn is all about..oh and lets not forget steaming hot bowls of soup with oven baked rolls slathered with oozing butter.
To sum it up I love casseroles, curries, slow cooked stews and basically anything that I can eat from a bowl before curling up on the sofa in front of a good movie.
So naturally I can’t pass up the opportunity to go pumpkin picking with the family and get my groove on in the kitchen whipping up a selection of delicious treats which I can pass on to you lovely lot.
Pumpkins and squashes are fruits that belong to the gourd family. Varying in colour and size. Most of the time however, you’ll be thinking of the giant orange variety which is what we’re cooking with today.
They have high amounts of vitamins A and C as well as vitamins B1, B3, B5 and B6. Their Mineral content includes potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, copper and phosphorous. The fruit can also help you meet your dietary fibre requirements which I can’t stress enough the importance of during pregnancy.
Below are some of the health benefits of pumpkin squash.
Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene)
The fruit contains some of the highest amounts of beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A. This vitamin has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Research has established that vitamin A promotes the health of lungs and reduces the risk of lung cancer. It also helps to prevent emphysema which stems from cigarette smoking or pollutants in the workplace and environment. Emphysema hinders respiratory functions and causes breathlessness. Vitamin A can help to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Oxidized cholesterol accumulates in blood vessels and forms plaque which increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Regular consumption of pumpkin can improve your cardiovascular health. The anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit can also help to reduce severity of symptoms if you suffer from asthma or arthritis.
Folate (vitamin B9) in pumpkin can support your health in various ways. It helps to break down homocysteine, which is a dangerous by-product of metabolism. Homocysteine has the capacity to damage blood vessel walls which increases the risk of heart attack. Plenty of folate in the diet can help lower homcysteine levels and support the health of your heart. Folate has also been found helpful in protecting colon cells. Pumpkin is a good item in the diet if you want to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
The fruit has a powerful antioxidant capacity due to the high content of vitamin C. This helps to boost your immunity. Common infections such as earache, sore throat, colds and the flu needn’t trouble you as much when pumpkin is regularly included in the diet.
Regular intake of pumpkin can help to stabilize your blood pressure. The fruit is a good source of potassium which helps to lower blood pressure. This is a boost to cardiovascular health.
It has been shown that fiber can help fight certain cancers. Fiber accelerates food transit through the gut. Colon cells are therefore exposed to carcinogens for a shorter while. The fiber also helps to eliminate carcinogens from the body. Regular intake of pumpkin can help lower your risk of colon cancer.
Wow who knew…
Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Position oven rack in the top half of oven.Sift flour, nutmeg,sugar and salt into a bowl. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.Make a well in centre of mixture. Add buttermilk and pumpkin. Using a flat-bladed knife, stir until a sticky dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until just smooth.Using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll dough out until 2cm thick. Using a 6cm fluted-edge cutter, cut out scones. Press leftover dough together. Repeat to make 12 scones.Place scones, just touching, on prepared tray. Brush with buttermilk. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden and hollow when tapped on top. Serve with butter, ricotta or cream cheese.
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
Creamy pumpkin Soup
Serves 4 / Preparation Time 1 hour total
Half a medium chopped pumpkin cut into bite size chunks ( reserve the seeds to bake on an oven tray, sprinkle with chili powder and a drizzle of olive oil and bake for 30 minutes at 160°C )
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 white onion chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 cup of light coconut milk
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tbsp coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C and place the butternut squash; seasoning and half of the olive oil onto a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes until just cooked; don’t let them burn.
In a large saucepan heat the remaining oil and add the garlic and onions and saute for 10 minutes on a low heat.
Add the butternut squash and coconut milk and simmer for twenty minutes
Place the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Add the seasoning and return to the heat
Meanwhile melt the coconut oil and paprika together on a low heat in a small saucepan and stir in the butternut squash seeds
Spread out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 160°C for twenty minutes
Ladle the soup into bowls as serve with hot rolls straight from the oven. Yum
Crustless Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche
3 cups diced, peeled butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, lightly salt and pepper
¾ cup Greek yogurt
7 large eggs
¾ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoon butter
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Gouda cheese
5 slices thick cut, smokey bacon, Cut in ½-inch pieces cooked until crisp and drained on several thicknesses of paper towels.
fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Pre-heat oven to 400˚F. Spray a 9 or 10-inch Quiche pan generously with cooking spray. Rub with a paper towel to evenly distribute.
Combine butternut squash and olive oil on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sea salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper, toss to coat. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or until tender and slightly golden.
Place Greek yogurt , eggs, salt and pepper in blender. Blend on medium-high speed until smooth. Add thyme leaves, stir and set aside.
Pour egg mixture through a fine sieve into prepared Quiche pan. Sprinkle with cheese .Add bacon and squash, a few pieces at a time until all bacon and veggies are added. At first they will sink into the egg mixture, but towards the end they will stay near the surface.
Bake for 45 minutes or until top is light golden brown and center no longer wiggles when the Quiche is gently rocked side to side. If the Quiche looks golden, but center is not done, cover lightly with a piece of non-stick foil, or a piece of regular foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Remove from oven when done and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish the top with more fresh thyme leaves, if desired.