Winter, Eat Your Heart Out.
Winter is by far my least favorite season; but it is my favorite when it comes to food. I love stews and soups during the winter time just because you can comfort yourself with some stew that is made with seasonal veggies and pinch of love. We all know that pumpkin is a seasonal fruit. Yes, it’s a fruit! I know it’s shocking, but it’s true! In fact, it’s a berry.
Pumpkins belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes cucumbers, melons, squash, and gourds. Within this family is the genus Cucurbita which includes gourds, winter and summer squash, and all varieties of pumpkin. Besides its vibrant color, which comes from beta carotene, it is also a powerhouse of many anti-oxidants and vitamins such as vitamin A, C and E. It is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. So why not eat more pumpkin? Besides all that, it also has a lovely flavor. It has this sweet, earthy, little bit of honey taste which will go very well with the heart warming tastes of cinnamon, cumin, ginger and chilies.
Lentils are the most common natural proteins which is very suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Due to its fiber and carbohydrates it is a good source of energy, which will benefit athletes during their performance. But it is also a good source of iron. Since lentils are full of folate and magnesium it contributes to a healthy heart. Folate lowers the risk of heart disease. Magnesium improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. I also added chickpeas for an extra crunch and also because they are a powerhouse of fiber, proteins, and potassium, which help support the function of your kidneys. Vitamin B1 is also present, which is essential for the health of your brain, nervous system and regulates your mood system. Mr. Winter, what do you think of that?
Besides of all that don’t be afraid to play around with spices. Spice up your life! (Trivia question: Which band had a song named Spice up your life?)
Cinnamon will boosts cognitive function and memory, is anti-microbial, and warms the body up from a cold and flu.
Cumin gives your immune system a boost and helps the digestive system.
Chilies reduce inflammation, relieves pain, reduces blood cholesterol and is a powerhouse of anti-oxidants. It boosts your immune system and will help fight cholesterol.
Smoked Paprika is an awesome anti-inflammatory spice, it improves circulation, helps your digestive system to work out the toxins, and it’s high in vitamin C.
Ginger helps your body to warm up and will increase energy levels. Helps with your digestion and will ease constipation and gassing. Also activates production of endorphin.
Pumpkin lentil stew
1 small butternut squash
1 can of tomatoes
1/2 cup green lentils (I used lentils from can)
1/4 cup ginger, roughly chopped
1 medium sized red onion, in rings
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tspn cumin seeds (toasted)
1 tspn smoked paprika powder
2 stick cinnamon
1 Birds eye chili, crushed
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 cup water
1 knob of coconut oil
Trim off the top and bottom of the butternut and cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds. Remove the peel with a sharp knife or if you are lazy like me, just ignore that there is a something to peel. There is no problem leaving the peel on because it’s edible. Cut into equally small cubes (approx. 2x2cm). Pop the lentils in a fine sieve and give it a good rinse with water until the water is clear.
Heat up a knob of coconut oil in a medium/large pot. Add the minced garlic, onion, ginger, cumin seeds, paprika powder and chili. Saute for about 5 minutes to release the flavors. Add the pumpkin and give it a good stir so every bit is covered with oil and spices. Put in the canned tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, sea salt and water. On a medium heat let it cook for 20 minutes. The pumpkin should be tender and soft by then. Add the lentils and let it boil for 10 more minutes. Serve it warm with some fresh coriander.