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recipe redux: pumpkin & bean spiced soup

So I finally decided to join the Recipe Redux fun! FINALLY.

For my readers who don't know what the Recipe Redux is, please let me explain. It is the first and only recipe challenge founded by Registered Dietitians (AKA America's version of our Accredited Practising Dietitians). The Recipe Redux is focused on taking delicious dishes and keeping them delicious BUT making them better for you. So each month nutrition professionals around the globe post their creations in response to a dedicated theme! I have always followed this movement with interest and envy. Envy because (as you know) I LOVE to cook, eat and talk about nutrition but I have always been afraid to over commit myself. What if I couldn't step up to the challenge?

But here I am with this months challenge of...'back to the dinner table.'

The motivation behind this theme was the return to the swing of family life after the American Summer vacation season. 

Well in Australia we are still in the winter months (it's ALMOST over) and our palates are still calling for those winter warmers. A fav in our house growing up was pumpkin soup topped with sour cream and served with beautiful crusty white bread. I haven't had pumpkin soup in a long time. But since I have returned to live with my parents (with hubby in tow) until we settle back in NSW, I thought it was fitting to 'redux' this family fav. Oh and my mum had bought this beautiful big butternut that needed using up. 

the redux

First of all and most importantly, this TASTES amazing! It has a different smokey, spiced flavour and a different (thick and crunchy) texture compared to most other pumpkin soups. 

When it comes to the nutrition, protein is an important part of any main meal but traditionally, pumpkin soup is quite low in protein. To deal with this, I added cannellini beans to the mix and a topping of Chobani Greek yoghurt and toasted pepitas.  Oh those pepitas also add the best crunch to the dish! 

This soup also goes beyond pumpkin by adding beans and roasted capsicum and carrot to bump up the veg variety and fibre of the dish. The legume haters won't even know they are there!! 

I am also really inspired by the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric at the moment. Researchers at The University in Newcastle (where I am from) are actually looking at the combined effects of omega 3 fats and the curcumin in turmeric on the prevention of type 2 diabetes. How exciting!

the recipe

Ingredients (serves 6)

Olive oil for drizzling (also anti-inflammatory)

1 large butternut pumpkin, chopped into chunks (about 2-3cm x 2-3cm)

2 medium carrots, chopped length ways and again in 2 cm pieces

1 small red capsicum, chopped into chunks (about 2-3cm x 2-3 cm)

4 cloves of garlic

1 brown onion, chopped into chunks 

800g (2 large tins) of cannellini beans (you can use any white bean or chick peas) 

1L of vegetable stock

1 teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of ground coriander

4 tablespoons of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Thick Greek yoghurt to serve 


Preheat oven to 180 degree.

Line two baking dishes with baking paper and add all vegetables to the tray, drizzle with olive oil.

Cook vegetables in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until soft and starting to get some nice colour.

Add vegetables to a large saucepan and add beans, spices and stock, heat over a high heat until starting to bubble. Meanwhile, heat a small pan with a drizzle of olive oil over a medium heat and toast the pepitas. As soon as they start to become fragrant remove them from the heat so they don't burn. Set aside to cool. 

Turning back to the soup, turn of the heat and puree using a bamix blender (you could also put the mix in your blender but you will just have to do this in batches). 

Divide soup between bowls and top with a big dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and the pepitas. 

Enjoy as a family with some crusty sourdough bread.

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Nutrition (without the bread)

Kilojoules 1650 Protein 17g Carbs 40g Fat 16g Saturated fat 4g Fibre 14g Sodium 680mg

This dish also gluten free for those requiring a gluten free diet. 

Beet, Choc and Blueberry Loaf with Vanilla Ricotta Icing

I have a thing for beetroot but unfortunately my husband doesn't. I like to use it many different ways just to see if I can convince him. I have grated it through salads, roasted with some of his faves (think sweet potato and zucchini) and blended it with Greek yoghurt to make a dip. After all that, he STILL doesn't like beetroot....SO, I thought I would make him a cake. Everyone likes cake right?

There are many recipes around for beetroot cake but this is my interpretation. Do you think my husband liked it? 

NOPE....he didn't. But I hope your family likes it just as much as I did.

This recipe is gluten free for those requiring a gluten free diet and packs in the goodness through the beets, blueberries and ricotta.

Ingredients - Serves  12

2 Large beetroots, grated raw with skin

3 Eggs

 1 Teaspoon vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste

 ¼ Teaspoon of salt

 1 ½ Cups ground almond meal

¼ Cup of cocoa powder

¼ Cup olive oil

¼ Cup honey

1 Cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or substitute for raspberries)

1 Teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced.

Combine raw beetroot, eggs, vanilla, ground almonds, cocoa powder, honey, oil and baking powder into a large bowl.

Fold through ¾ cup of the blueberries.

Spoon mixture into a paper lined loaf tin.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove from the oven and cool for approximately 15-20 minutes in the tin then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool.

Zesty Ricotta Icing


250g Low fat ricotta

2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract/essence

Zest of a lemon

Lemon juice from ¼ of a lemon – or to taste


While the loaf is cooling, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and spread over the loaf.

Top with remaining berries and some lemon zest if desired.

should you be tested for coeliac disease

This week is Coeliac Awareness Week. A week that aims to increase the awareness of the signs and symptoms of coeliac disease and to encourage people to get tested.

Coeliac disease may be one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses in Australia & if you have symptoms, get tested for it.

As a dietitian I encounter many people who experience ongoing symptoms that could be associated with coeliac disease – but they put off being tested. People are often reluctant as they put their symptoms down to general irritable bowel syndrome which they may have dealt with for years, or are worried about a positive result which means changing their diet for good.

This is completely understandable, but soon after a formal diagnosis many people are relieved to say goodbye to some of their embarrassing symptoms and welcome their new found energy levels.

Too many people don’t want to go through the tests and are happy to just omit the major sources of gluten in their diet. This may lead to restricting foods unnecessarily if they don’t have coeliac disease. On the other hand, small amounts of gluten may be consumed leading to health complications if they do have coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is not as benign as other food intolerances. Ignoring the warning signs and symptoms of coeliac disease may increase your risk of serious health complications. So let’s have a look at what coeliac disease is and why we are encouraging screening.

What is coeliac disease

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, oats, barley, rye and triticale (triticale is a cereal grain created by cross-fertilisation of wheat and rye).

If people with coeliac disease eat gluten, small bowel damage can occur. This can lead to signs and symptoms such as:

  • Poor nutrient absorption resulting in fatigue and certain nutrient deficiencies such as iron deficiency
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating or distention, flatulence (wind), diarrhoea, constipation or steatorrhoea (floating, fatty stools)
  • Weight loss, and
  • Bone pain.

Eating gluten (even the smallest amount) may lead to long-term, serious health complications such as lymphoma, osteoporosis and infertility in women.

Small bowel damage and the development of long-term complications can occur even if signs and symptoms are not experienced. This is an important reason to be formally tested if you feel there could be any chance that you have coeliac disease.

Who gets coeliac disease

Coeliac disease does not discriminate against age or gender and unfortunately, there is not currently any means of prevention. However, you do need a genetic predisposition to develop coeliac disease.

If you already have an autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes, have a family history of coeliac disease or are experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms, you should be screened.

What’s involved in screening

The first step of screening involves a simple blood test. The purpose is to identify elevated coeliac antibodies (elevated due to the immune systems reaction to gluten). If the results are positive, a biopsy of the small bowel is required to confirm a diagnosis of coeliac disease. It is important that gluten is not restricted prior to screening.

When a diagnosis of coeliac disease is unclear or difficult to determine, gene (HLA) testing can be used. Although a small biopsy is still required to diagnose coeliac disease, a negative test for the HLA DQ2 and HLA DQ8 genes can correctly out rule coeliac disease. This test can be performed on a blood test or cheek (buccal) scraping, ordered through your GP.

How is coeliac disease managed

Currently the only way to effectively manage coeliac disease is to follow a strict gluten free diet for life. Here are some key points to help you follow a gluten free diet: 

  • Gluten is found in wheat, oats, barley, rye and triticale, therefore foods containing these must be avoided and substitutes found.
  • Some naturally gluten-free foods include rice, quinoa, sago, tapioca, buckwheat, soy, arrowroot, fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, meat (except most processed meats), poultry, fish, most dairy foods and fats and oils.
  • Some foods containing gluten such as wheat-based pasta and breads have been manufactured to have the gluten removed. If any of these food products are labeled ‘gluten free’ you can be sure that they contain no detectable gluten.
  • Some products will have the ‘crossed grain logo,’ which means they are endorsed by Coeliac Australia and are tested to be suitable for people with coeliac disease.
  • To help you identify major and hidden sources of gluten, the ingredients list on a food label is an important tool. If any ingredient in a product is derived from wheat, oats, barley or rye then this must be declared on the ingredients list.

If you would like more information on coeliac disease, including screening for and managing the condition with a gluten free diet visit the Coeliac Australia website and book an appointment with your GP if you have identified any signs or symptoms of coeliac disease.

As seen first on Motherpedia