Minestrone Soup With Quinoa And Lentils

2015 Minestrone

Built around the well-loved, traditional Italian meal-in-a-bowl, this Minestrone Soup does away with the pasta and replaces it with high-protein, gluten-free quinoa and is packed with seasonally harvested veggies and hearty lentils. Feel free to play with your own seasonal, vegetable variations or add some that you already have on hand.

Autumn is a time to start adding more cooked, warming foods to the diet and this thick, rich, one-pot meal is easy to prepare and supports to the digestive system at this time of year. I always make a large potful so that I have it on hand in the fridge or freezer for a cold night or for a quick hot lunch.

Curling up with a warm bowl packed with these beautiful ingredients will comfort the soul and satisfy the tummy.

Minestrone Soup With Quinoa And Lentils

  • 1 red onion – medium diced
  • 1 -2 cloves garlic- finely chopped
  • 3 carrots – medium diced
  • 10 mushrooms sliced
  • 3 cups kale (stems removed) or silverbeet/chard – shredded
  • 1 large zucchini – medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves on – finely sliced
  • 700g jar diced peeled tomatoes or 3 fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups red lentils
  • 1.5 cups quinoa
  • 8 cups of water/vegetable stock
  • fresh (or dried) basil leaves
  • fresh (or dried) oregano leaves
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • salt and freshly crushed black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
  1. Rinse lentils under running water and pick through them to remove any foreign matter. Optional- you may also like to pre-soak them for 1 hour prior to cooking in order to aid digestibility.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and sauté 5 minutes until the veggies are soft.
  4. Add the garlic and sweet paprika and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to colour.
  5. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and the water/stock, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
  7. Lower the heat to medium/low and add red lentils, basil and oregano.
  8. Allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking.
  9. Add the quinoa and cover for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the cover, add the kale and more water if needed. Bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.

Garnish with fresh oregano (and optional freshly grated parmesan).


Autumn Breakfast – apple and berry compote with spiced seed mix

spiced seeds


Taking care of ourselves during Autumn sets us up for good health through the winter.

Now is the time to keep warm, nourish yourself and protect your vitality in preparation for the months ahead. Adjusting our diet and lifestyle for Vata season is key to avoiding its seasonal disturbances such as anxiety, dry skin/lips, digestive issues and poor circulation to the hands and feet. We can address some of these outcomes by consuming foods that are warming, grounding, and nourishing – try mainly warm, cooked meals that incorporate more spices and oils .

Having a warm breakfast that follows these basic guidelines sets us up well for the day – rice porridge, stewed seasonal fruits, or pancakes are all great choices. Avoid raw, drying foods such as raw muesli, puffed grain cereals, dry crackers, and caffeine.

This Spiced Seed Mix is a beautiful addition to your Autumn pantry. It has a sweet, spicy flavour and offers a good dose of the oils we need at this drying time of year. Make a batch and keep it in a jar so it can be generously added to your breakfast repertoire –  sprinkle on any compote, use as a crumble topping or  generously garnish your porridge. It also makes a satisfying, low GI snack.

Spiced Seed Mix

  • pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • shredded coconut
  • coconut oil
  • ground cardamom
  • ground cloves
  • powdered ginger

Heat a non-stick pan and toss in pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and shredded coconut. Stir until lightly browned.

Add small amount of coconut oil to pan to lightly coat the seed mix and then add cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground cloves and powdered ginger. When the spices begin to release their aroma, remove from the heat and turn the mix out onto a flat plate to cool immediately.

To make compote

Peel and dice seasonal organic fruits such as apples or pears (and sweet berries if they are still available).

Toss into a large pot with enough water to generously cover the bottom of the pot.

Cover and turn on to a medium heat. Once water starts to bubble turn to a low heat and continue to cook until the fruit is soft and translucent.

Serve warm over porridge or pancakes, with or without a small dollop of  organic coconut yogurt and a generous handful of the Spiced Seed Mix.


how to keep your cool this summer

summer port mcquarie

As temperatures begin to reach well over 40°C here in Australia  the joys of summer begin to fade. The simple pleasures of juicy summer fruits, swimming in the ocean and outdoor gatherings are overshadowed as the fire element makes its presence felt and we all run for water and sunscreen.

Ayurveda , the ancient Indian “science of life” and a sister art to yoga, is based on practical principles that help you maintain balance in accordance with the seasons. During these summer months that translates into practical ways to avoid the symptoms of overheating.  Excessive heat brings with it dehydration, skin rashes, sunburn, lethargy and irritability. So whether or not your constitution is governed by Pitta ( the fire element), we all need to find ways to cool down – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Staying cool is not just about staying comfortable. It is about staying balanced during the warmer months.


One of the most important tips to adhere to during the summer is to stay hydrated. Coconut water, with its high mineral and electrolyte content, as well as water served at room temperature and herbal teas are great hydrating summer beverages.. Aloe Vera juice or gel added to your water is another cooling option. Be sure to avoid the stimulating and dehydrating effects of caffeine during these warmer months.

A cooling Ayurvedic diet in summer includes a lot of fruits and vegetables that are sweet, juicy, bitter and astringent in nature. Choose fruits such as melons, pears, cherries, mangoes and grapes. Vegetables to include are cucumber, broccoli, zucchini and asparagus. Fresh, homemade vegetable smoothies are a good inclusion.

Avoid hot, spicy and sour foods. Instead use cooling spices such as mint, coriander/cilantro, fennel, anise and cardamom in your preparations. You should also avoid foods with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, onions, garlic and spinach.

Eating more lightly is also encouraged. Avoid deep fried foods and minimize the consumption of red meat and excessive amounts of alcohol.


Any form of exercise should be done in the cool parts of the day. Try rising early and going for a beach walk, a swim or practicing some yoga, or get to a yoga class later in the evening. Avoid running or vigorous exercise in the middle of the day.  Whatever your choice of exercise, practice non-competitively and without force or aggression in order to prevent overheating. Cultivate a sense of calm and serenity to help cool the mind and body.

 Your yoga practice at this time should be slower, less vigorous and more nurturing, in an attempt to calm the nervous system. Including poses such a seated or lying twists, supported back bend or shoulder stand, seated forward bends or any wide legged poses will cool the body and help it regulate naturally.


The mind is susceptible to overheating which leads to both mental and physical symptoms of irritability. To reduce the activity and stimulation of the mind avoid overworking and too much activity. Maintain balance with relaxation practices. A regular meditation practice or at least space for quiet time each day will help to quiet and still the mind.

Bathe in some moonlight to balance the sun’s energy. Take a walk after dark or practice yoga in the garden.

Cool your skin with unrefined coconut oil. Try a daily massage  before your shower allowing the warm water to help it penetrate the skin. This helps to protect against dryness whilst also cooling the skin.

Favour aromas that are cooling and sweet. Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, mint, lavender, fennel, and chamomile are all recommended.

Remember that summer is a time to slow down and take it easy. So relax in the shade, read something for pleasure, swim in  cool waters or do whatever you love that is calming and cooling. By taking action to keep your internal cooling system working at its best you will notice a real difference in the way you cope with the summer heat.