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

Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  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).

Enjoy.

Pear, Almond and Ginger Chia Pudding

Chia pudding3 117

A protein-rich breakfast is an integral part of setting up our mood and energy for the day. This first meal can help stabilise blood sugar levels and  prevent an appetite roller coaster that leads to cravings late in the day and after-dinner snacking.

Mornings are my favourite time of day. A new beginning awaits and this motivates me to start the day well. I love to wake early and squeeze in a bit of ‘me’ time before the rest of the family rises. This, along with a well-balanced breakfast, sets me up well for  the day ahead and helps me sail through the demands of the morning-rush feeling centred and energised.

I love simple, clean flavors to tickle my taste buds awake in the morning. Keep it clean and gentle on the body also by reducing refined sugars, allergens and chemicals in your breakfast.

Today’s recipe features nutritious Chia seeds. They are simply and quickly prepared to create a breakfast pudding that will boost energy, provide Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy brain and nerve function as well as a good dose of anti-oxidants, that help to remove free-radicals from the body. Chia seeds also aid digestion, stabilise blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. They are a good source of Magnesium, the mineral that helps to keep us relaxed. Magnesium is depleted with increased stress levels, reduced sleep, caffeine consumption and regular exercise, so many of us can use an extra dose.

Chia seeds have the ability to absorb 10 times their weight in liquid, creating a unique gel-like pudding. It takes only a couple of steps to prepare and creates a tapioca-like texture.

This gorgeous, delicate pudding can be made the night before and served up to the whole family for breakfast. It can also be portioned out into smaller, transportable jars for a great grab and go breakfast or mid-afternoon snack.

Little note: I always make an extra serve or two of the roast pears (below) as they make a great school lunchbox treat.

Pear, Almond and Ginger Chia Pudding

Makes 2 generous serves.

INGREDIENTS

Chia Pudding:

  • 1/2 cup Chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups organic, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or other preferred sweetener). I use Leatherwood honey which has gorgeous, floral flavours – but of course any will do.
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Combine almond milk, honey and spices in a bowl or large jar.
2. Add Chia seeds and mix well.
3. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours to allow the Chia seeds to swell.

light Chia jar

Roast Pears:

  • 1 large organic pear
  • cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
3. Slice pear into wedges and remove core.
4. Arrange on tray with skin side down.
5. Sprinkle pear wedges generously with cinnamon.

Chia - Pears on tray
6. Roast in oven until tender, approx 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

Chia - Baked pears

Assemble pudding and pears and top with a sprinkle of slivered almonds.

Chia pudding3 117

Enjoy!

quinoa and lemon crusted fish

Quinoa crumbed fish 2 002

Quinoa truly earns its name as a top ‘super-food’ and is an important addition to any diet.  It’s nutritional profile deems it one of the richest sources of protein found in a plant food as well as being a very rich source of Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc and Iron. It is also high in fibre and all-important antioxidants.

Quinoa is officially a seed, not a grain, and is naturally gluten-free.  This is important as many people I see who follow a gluten-free diet replace wholefoods with refined starches out of caution, and miss out on the healthful benefits of a wholefood diet.

Quinoa is extremely versatile in cooking. It can be used hot and cold as well as in sweet and savoury dishes.

This dish uses the wholegrain in its rolled form and makes a wonderful replacement for traditional wheat-based breadcrumbs. It provides a rich serve of protein, combining both animal-based and plant-based sources, as well as providing a satisfying, crunchy texture.

Quinoa And Lemon Crusted Fish

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 small fillets firm, white fish (eg. Flathead as pictured)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup organic quinoa flakes
  • 3 generous tbsp. fresh, grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • good pinch of salt, pepper
  • 4 sprigs of finely chopped parsley leaves
  • coconut oil for cooking
  • 4 lemon wedges

Method

  1. Wash fish fillets and pat dry with paper towelling.
  2. In a shallow bowl combine quinoa flakes, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Place beaten egg in a second shallow bowl.
  3. Coat the fish fillets in the egg and then roll in the quinoa mixture, pressing it firmly until well coated.
  4.  Place a large frying pan on a medium heat. Melt the coconut oil and shallow-fry the fish for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges and a beautiful lemon-dressed fresh salad.