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Is coconut oil healthy...

Coconut oil gets touted as super by many groups, especially those promoting the paleo, I quit sugar and clean eating lifestyles. But often these recommendations are clouded by financial opportunities without all of the evidence considered. Food is complex and we don't have all the answers but here is what we know about coconut oil. 

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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.