Roasted pumpkin soup

A couple of weeks ago I was wandering the aisles of Coles before work trying to decide what to have for lunch. Pumpkin soup caught my eye, delicious, right? And pair it with a cheesymite scroll, you’re onto a winner (for those of you not from Australia this is a cheesymite scroll, they’re salty, cheesy and delicious… if you’re a vegemite fan that is).

I stuck it in the microwave until it was piping hot and eagerly anticipated my first mouthful, only to be thoroughly disappointed upon it touching my lips. Let’s be real, canned or packaged pumpkin soup is, well, rubbish.

So, the following weekend I did what any sane person with a pumpkin soup craving would do, I made it myself.

I am sure there are as many recipes for pumpkin soup on the internet as there are for chocolate chip cookies, a whole lot. But I am pretty darn proud of mine, it’s hearty, satisfying, smooth, pumpkiny, and can be vegan with a switch of stock. Simple! The key, in my opinion, is roasting up all your veggies first. Roasting, my friends, makes all the difference.

pumpkin soup

Spiced and oiled and ready to roast. Oh yeah.

Roast those babies for 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t stress if they get a little black and crispy on the edges. Black and crispy leads to flavour-town.

pumpkin soup

From pan to pot.

pumpkin soup

Add your liquid. Cover your veggies. Boil and bubble. You can let this go for as long as you like really. Set it to low and let it go.

pumpkin soup

Personally I like my soup smooth, so I blend, blend, blend. This step is best done when you’ve let it cool a little, otherwise you will end up with scalding soup spitting at you. Best to avoid that.

pumpkin soup

Mmm… soup.

The best thing about whipping up a big batch of this on a Sunday afternoon is that you can eat it all week long. Or, if you’d prefer, hide a couple of servings in the freezer for a rainy day and a crusty roll. Trust me, you’ll have enough.

pumpkin soup

Rosted Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients
1 butternut pumpkin (squash)
1 wedge of japanese pumpkin
2 brown onions
garlic, the amount really depends on your taste (I used 10ish cloves)
1 sweet potato
2 parsnips/turnip/swede (parsnip is my personal favourite)
salt, pepper, paprika, Mexican chilli powder
1lt stock + enough water to cover you veggies
olive oil

Method
1. preheat your oven to 180-200*c
2. peel and chop all of your veggies into chunks, except your garlic leave that in its skin, toss them in a bowl, drizzle some oil and add your spices to your taste
3. roastin’ time, throw them into the oven for 30-45 minutes
4. throw roasted veggies into a big pot, add your stock and top up with water until the liquid covers all of your veggies. Set it to low and let it bubble away for up to 90 minutes
5. allow to cool a bit before blending
6. serve it up to devour immediately or package up for future enjoyment!

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Things are a changin’

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It’s already March, how did that happen?

And yet again I have left this little space for entirely too long. But, I’m here now. And stuff is happening.

So far 2014 has been pretty good. Most exciting is that the BF and I will have an addition to our little family come September. It’s crazy, and still doesn’t completely feel real. There are blood tests and ultrasound photos to prove it, along with my growing belly, but I am still in the “is this really happening?” phase.

My first trimester wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I was pretty exhausted and felt queasy a lot of the time. No soy chais. No eggs. No chicken. I did have a monster craving for Cheerios for about 2 weeks though… for some reason the combo of Cheerios and icy colt full cream milk was heaven. Totally normal.

Now that I am into the second trimester I’m less tired, although could easily nap after lunch most days. The queasiness has vanished- aside from a random bout of motion sickness last week. And it appears that all of my aversions are back on the menu. Thanks to all of these things I want to try and get myself into a routine that includes daily exercise- belly friendly of course- nutritious food (not including Cheerios) and meditation.

The main thing that I have learnt so far is that all you really need to do is listen to your body. And this is what I intend to do.

Wish me luck!

12 Day Sugar Detox

It’s summer. How it got to December 1 so quickly I hardly understand. But here we are nonetheless.

Waaaaay back in September I decided (after seeing a post in the Tone It Up! community) that I would set myself a goal of running/walking/swimming/riding 200km by December 1. And as of this morning my tally was 219.5km. Yes. I did it and am very pleased. Rather than let this momentum fall away I have set myself another, slightly more lofty, target of 100km in December- the December Century I am calling it. That averages to about 3.25km-ish a day. It’s worth a try.

Starting today I am also embarking on my first 21 Day Sugar Detox. 21 Day Sugar Detox ebookI made this decision 3 days ago, mostly on a whim. Well, not entirely on a whim. I had been thinking about it for a while but had talked myself out of doing it more times than I am willing to admit. This time I am making it stick. Within the book there are three levels- I’m starting with 1- and for each there is a day-by-day meal plan for you to follow and a yes and no foods list. So you can follow the plan to the letter, or do your own thing.

I won’t be following the plan to the letter but I am definitely using some of the recipes. To prep myself for the week ahead today I whipped up some parsnip fritters (based on the root vegie hash recipe), some sausage and apple patties and a batch of quinoa. I am set.

No doubt it will be a challenge, especially in light of all the Christmas baking I plan on doing in the next few weeks. But I will not be using that as an excuse to not do it.

Have you ever done, or thought about doing, a sugar detox?

Banana protein muffins

I have a biology exam on Friday. This is the second time I have attempted the subject because last time the exam was on I was in Europe and holidays aren’t a good enough reason for deferrals… It wasn’t a bad thing, I think having to go over everything a second time was helpful.

Anyway, procrastination is a wonderful thing. Procrastination lead to these muffins. Well procrastination and 3 overripe bananas on my kitchen bench. I had actually been wanting to make a muffin for a little while now so this presented the perfect opportunity.

I knew that I wanted to make these grain free and protein packed, so after a little perusal of standard banana muffin recipes to get the proportions I headed to the kitchen. And the result wasn’t too shabby at all. banana protein muffinsbanana protein muffins

Banana protein muffins

Ingredients
3/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup vanilla protein powder (I use Sun Warrior)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup walnuts
Pinch of salt
125gr coconut oil, melted
1/2tsp vanilla
1/3-1/2 cup almond milk
3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 bananas, mashed
1 1/2tsp apple cider vinegar

Method
1. Combine your dry ingredients, except walnuts
2. Make a well and throw in all your wet ingredients- except apple cider vinegar- mix it all up
3. Add your banana and walnuts, don’t mix it too much you want some banana chunks in there
4. Mix in your apple cider vinegar last
5. Spoon into a lined muffin tray
6. Bake at 180*c for 20-25 minutes
7. Allow to cool and try not to eat them all at once

banana protein muffinsEnjoy!

One day juice cleanse

Where has October gone? I feel like I blinked and it’s nearly over.

For most of this month I have been doing whatever I please in the food and exercise stakes. This generally means eating bread and not moving very much at all. Stuff has been going on so I am not going to beat myself up about it, but it’s time to whip things back into shape!

To kick start my re-introduction to healthy eating I decided to cash in the Pressed Juices voucher I won. It was for an 8-pack of juice, perfect for a one day cleanse. IMG_5406I stopped by the Pressed Juices store on Glenferrie Rd on my way to work to pick up the days liquid nourishment. They even come in a cute little bag. IMG_54115 juices, 2 waters and 1 nut milk all snug.

I started off with Green 3- apple, celery, cucumber, ginger, kale, lemon, parsley and spinach. It was pretty good, although I think I add a lot more lemon and ginger to mine at home cocktails. I alternated this with a chamomile tea because I felt like something warm.

Next up was Earth 3- apple, beet, lemon and ginger. Delicious! Beet juice is so, so good. You just need to remember you had it and not freak out when you go to the bathroom later on… So far I was feeling pretty good.

Starting to get hungry. Another Green 3 was next.

Earth 2 was the afternoon meal- carrot, cucumber, parsley and spinach. I wasn’t really a fan of this one. I off loaded it to a work colleague who happily sipped away.

So hungry! It probably didn’t help that I skipped my fourth juice. Now it was time for the good stuff, Zest 4- coconut, cucumber, lemon and pineapple. So light. So refreshing. So addictive.

In the afternoon I also started sipping on my aloe vera water and chlorophyll water. I had been told that morning the chlorophyll water was delicious but the aloe one was weird. I couldn’t have disagreed more! I loved the aloe one, it was super refreshing. The chlorophyll one was odd. It smelled just like spearmint, but didn’t taste like it, although there was a minty aftertaste.

Once I was home it was time for dinner… hello Almond Milk- almonds, dates, filtered water, sea salt and vanilla bean. This one is so good I didn’t miss eating dinner. And I stayed surprisingly satisfied as the night wore on. IMG_5412

So, what’ the verdict? Well I don’t think I could keep this up for anymore than 1 day. Not because the juices weren’t tasty, they were, more so because I felt like I was peeing every 20 minutes. And I think that after a few days of drinking the same things- with the exception of the last 2 because I could drink them all day every day- I would get bored. I did feel lighter and less bloated but I also had a vague headache for most of the day no matter how much extra water I was drinking. I noticed a general lack of energy in the evening too, probably because my body was missing the fats and proteins it’s so accustomed to getting. Finally, I missed chewing.

I have been toying with the idea of a juice cleanse for ages and am really glad I had this mini version to give me a sneak peak. It was perfect way for me to set myself up for healthy eating but I am glad that I didn’t commit to a 3 or 5 day one. I totally get why people do it, but I enjoy my thick green smoothies, quinoa and (free range, gluten free) sausage salads and crunchy apples with nut butter… I enjoy food.

If you’re thinking about trying a juice cleanse, I would say you have nothing to lose giving it a go. Ask for a taste of the juices you plan on having- I wish I had of tried the carrot one, I probably would have swapped it out for something else- and maybe try a short one first before throwing yourself in the deep end with a 3 or 5 day.

Gummies

The thought of making my own gummy lollies always struck me intimidating. Like so many things, once I actually attempted it, nothing could be further from the truth.

I first saw this recipe a couple of months ago on Balanced Bites and immediately wanted to try it. First I had to source the grass-fed gelatin the recipe called for (thank you GPA Wholefoods). It arrived reasonably swiftly and I was good to go. This and that pushed my gummy making to the side but with a free Saturday afternoon I decided it was time to make it happen.

With the AFL Grand Final on in the back ground- well done Hawthorn- I got to work. The recipe was simple enough, and I simplified it further… down to only 3 ingredients (4 if you include a splash of water).

First up you need a cup of berries (I used raspberries), fresh or frozen- defrost them if they’re frozen- and a cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice.IMG_5187Once the berries are defrosted they get whizzed up with the lemon juice and look like this. That’s the gelatin that is pretty much invisible in the bowl on the left. IMG_5193Add gelatin to berry-lemon mixture, it’s on a medium heat.IMG_5194Whisk. Whisk. Whisk. You want all the gelatin dissolved. you can see some lumps here still, they did disappeared. IMG_5196Once all your gelatin is dissolved pour your mixture into something to set, I used a cake tin (I have no idea why this photo looks anaemic, apologies). From here it’s into the fridge for about half an hour.

Do what you please for the next half an hour… And then… grab that tray out and marvel at how good you are. IMG_5195Because you just made gummy worms! Of course you don’t have to cut them into worms, they can be little chunks if you prefer, or any shape you please (you can bet I’ll be getting some cookie cutters involved next time).

These weren’t as flavoursome as I was hoping. Next time I might try a berry combo and add some zest to liven them up. Overall though I am very pleased with how these babies turned out. And not a grain of refined sugar in sight!

Raspberry and lemon gummy worms (adapted from Balanced Bites)

Ingredients:
1 cup berries fresh or defrosted from frozen
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 tbsp grass-fed gelatin (the original recipe calls for 6, but apparently an Australian (metric) tbsp is 20ml as compared to a US one that is 15ml- don’t ask me why… it makes zero sense to me)
As mentioned next time I’ll be adding some zest too

Method:
1. Let your berries defrost if they’re frozen while you juice your lemons- I realised upon doing this that there is not a citrus juicer in my house, how is that possible? Doesn’t everyone have a citrus juicer? Not me evidently. One cup took about 8ish lemons, I still didn’t have quite enough so topped it up with a little water.
2. Put your berries and lemon juice into a blender or mini food processor thing, whatever you’ve got handy. Whizz it all up until you’re good and smooth with no obvious berry chunks left.
3. Pour your berry-lemon mix into a small saucepan over medium heat.
4. Add your gelatin and whisk, whisk, whisk. There will be lumps, but if you keep a-whiskin’ they’ll disappear eventually.
5. Once your gelatin has dissolved take it off the heat and pour into a ceramic dish or cake tin and stick it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
6. It’ll be set but still a little jiggly, cut it however you please.

Turning it around.

IMG_5116The last couple of weeks have been… bumpy. One day I might find it cathartic to get it all out, but I’m not ready just yet.

As a result of the bumpiness I have pretty much been on a gluten and sugar bender for a week. Pizza. Burgers. Fro-yo. Chocolate. You name it, I’ve eaten it. Couple that with staying in bed every morning when I would usually get up and do some kind of exercise and I am feeling pretty crappy.

Then on Friday morning- while I was out in the fresh air on a walk- I realised that all of this is starting to go in a circle. I am feeling crappy so I don’t want to get out of bed and food that isn’t nourishing. I don’t get out of bed and choose nutritionally empty food and I feel crappier. You see where this is going…

Well I am not letting it go any further. The spiral stops here. I know how good I can feel when I am eating well and exercising regularly and I want to get back to that. All I needed was a little planning. IMG_5191

First up, food. Like so many things it started with a list. Breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners all planned out. Once a list is in place it’s just a matter of working out what can be made ahead of time so that’s it’s ready to grab and go through the week. There is something so satisfying about the weekly meal prep- or is that just me?IMG_5195Raspberry and lemon gummy worms. Gluten and sugar free and made with healing grass-fed gelatine (recipe coming soon). IMG_5190ABC (almond, brazil and cashew) nut butter and vanilla protein squares- based on my peanut butter protein squares. I also cooked up some sausages, which will be frozen and ready to grab each day for lunch. Tomorrow I am hoping to whip up enough protein pancakes for the week.

Once Food is sorted it’s time to tackle the exercising. I’ve been struggling with exercise for a while. I lost my fervour for the gym and since then haven’t found something to properly take its place. It’s coming into summer here in the southern hemisphere so I have decided to jump back in the pool. In addition I want work on my running and yoga. Not a bad trifecta in my opinion. But how does one get excited about a new work out routine? Why new work out clothes of course!

I took a trip to the Lululemon outlet store in Collingwood but nothing jumped out at me- not to worry. Next up was Swimwear Galore on in Fitzroy, that was a little more successful. I picked up a new swim-tank. In the past I’ve swam in bikini tops but want something a little more, supportive. So a Speedo tank it was.

Now that those things are in place it’s a matter of changing my thoughts. No more dwelling on what has happened and things that I can’t change. It’s time to focus on things that are in my control and do whatever I can to make myself happy. IMG_5121I have no doubt that this is going to be a process, and there will be slip ups along the way that will test my resolve. But I want to be the best version of myself, and it’s starting now.

Quotes were all found on instagram, just in case you were wondering…