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!

Banana and oat lunchbox treats

Banana and Oat slice 031

I am a fan of squeezing as much nutrition into each meal as I can when it comes to preparing meals for my children. Adding a pinch of turmeric and cinnamon to their quinoa porridge to reduce inflammation, a sprinkle of kelp in the Lentil Bolognaise to assist with healthy thyroid function, a handful of Gogi berries in the smoothie for a dose of amino acids and a vitamin C boost , etc. This list goes on…and on.

There are mornings though when my children’s one and only simple request is that their porridge isn’t too ‘busy’. They just want simple flavours without all the fuss. Understandable.

This Banana and Oat Slice, inspired by Dale Pinnock, is simple in flavour and has just a handful of ingredients but fulfills my nutritional value test. It is packed with calcium rich Tahini, omega rich flax seeds/linseeds and oats which are super high in magnesium to boost the immune and nervous system.

It could easily double as a breakfast bar for those mornings where the accidental sleep-in doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a quality breakfast, but they do make a beautiful lunchbox treat.

Banana And Oat Slice

Makes approx  16 pieces

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tbsp Tahini (or any other nut butter you have on hand)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 1/2 cups organic porridge oats
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds/linseeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil + extra for greasing tin

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F and grease a 20cm x 20cm baking tray with extra coconut oil.
  2. In a small pot add honey, coconut oil and Tahini and gently heat until evenly combined. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add the Tahini mixture to the bananas and mix until well combined.
  4. Add flax seeds/linseeds and oats to the mixture and combine well.
  5. Press the mixture into the the greased tin.
  6. Bake for approx 20 mins or until golden.
  7. Allow to cool before slicing with a serrated knife.

 

Banana and Oat slice mixture photos 001

 

 

Banana and Oat slice cooling rack photos 015

 

Enjoy!