Pharm or Farm? The farm is our pharmacy. We are always looking for what medication, supplement or vitamin we should be taking. What about which fruits and vegetables we should be eating to help us prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, prediabetes, and the list goes on. We are quick to take a pill, but not as quick to try to a new vegetable.
The seasonal list of fruits and vegetables is one nutrient power-packed entourage. The health benefits of pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, apples, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and all kinds of greens, include beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, potassium, magnesium and more. Pumpkins and carrots are filled with beta-carotene, which give them their characteristic orange color. This vitamin-stimulating antioxidant helps protect cells from aging, which in turn keeps your body and mind functioning at their peak. Do not let some of those pumpkin-crazed items on the market like pumpkin cookies, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins give pumpkin a bad rap. One serving of real pumpkin contains only 30 calories, 8 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber and a gram of protein. Similarly, carrots contain only 25 calories per serving, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber and about a half gram of protein.
The pumpkin is a very versatile fruit. That’s right — pumpkin is arguably the largest member of the fruit world. It is useful in both sweet and savory dishes. You could take an adventure in the kitchen and chop up a fresh pumpkin. However, this could take quite a while, be quite messy, and risk an injury for sure😳! My recommendation is for the 100% pure pumpkin in a can. Pureed pumpkin can easily be substituted for oil or shortening in sweet dish, or oil or cream in a savory dish.
A note on numbers ~Though at times I mention calories, fat, protein, salt, and other macro and micronutrient content, I did specifically decide not to include nutritional analysis with each recipe. Why you might ask🤨? Numbers can be confusing and misleading, causing more stress and concern than they are worth. Embrace the commonsense approach ~ Go for the plate balance of 50–25–25 (50% non-starchy veggies, 25% lean protein, 25% whole grain). Keep the numbers simple. They are easier to keep :). However, if you have a chronic illness where the numbers are key to your success, by all means, happy to help count with you!
So let’s cook up some nutrient-dense goodness, with two of our rockstar fall ingredients 🎃 🥕
CURRIED COCONUT CARROT SOUP
I have been calling this my Sunday soup, as it takes a little more time than a weeknight may allow for, and a delicious way to spice things up on Sunday. Carrots are actually in season right now (as well as in late Spring), though available year-round. Depending on how intense you like your curry, feel free to play with the amount. The savory and sweetness of this soup just may obliterate those Sunday blues.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2–2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups (divided) vegetable stock, low sodium
1 cup water
1 handful cilantro sprigs
1/2 cups light coconut milk
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional garnish: fresh cilantro leaves and pepitas
Place large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and heat for 1–2 minutes. Add scallions and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add carrots, ginger, pepper and curry powder. Stir well and cook for 3–4 minutes. Add vegetable stock, water and cilantro sprigs (yes, you are throwing in the whole sprigs!). Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, stir and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove pan from heat and cool for about 10 minutes. Using tongs, scoop out and toss cilantro sprigs.
Pour soup mixture into blender. Add coconut milk and lime juice. Place lid on blender, removing middle section. Hold a towel over top of blender to avoid any splatter and blend for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and place over medium heat until warm. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Ladle into 4 serving bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves and pepitas if desired. Makes 4 1-cup servings.
PUMPKIN PASTA PRIMAVERA
This is creamy goodness all the way around. This is a one-dish meal, though a few pots for the prep🙃. Lots of veggies, whole grain and lean protein.
1 pound whole grain pasta (or gluten-free)
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 vidalia onion, peeled and chopped
2 red bell peppers, washed and sliced into thin 1-inch strips
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, washed and sliced thin
8 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 15-ounce can 100% pumpkin purée
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound sea scallops (or protein of choice)
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, plain
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring pot of water to boil and boil the pasta until al dente. When done, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the onion is slightly browned. Add the peppers and mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5 to 6 minutes, until the peppers are soft. Stir in the spinach. Add the pumpkin purée and broth to the skillet and stir to fully combine. Add the chili powder, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, salt, and several grinds of black pepper.
Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 8–10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. While cooking, place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, swirling to coat pan. Add scallops and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Sauté 4–5 minutes per side. Keep warm.
Stir the Greek yogurt into pumpkin mixture until well-blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Pour the pumpkin mixture and scallops over the pasta and stir well to combine. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper. Makes 8 servings.
Craving Candy? I mean, it is Halloween season👻. Even if you do not normally crave candy, when it is everywhere, we tend to desire it more. Best method to keep things in control? Use your voice. Use your voice to empower YOU. If you were speaking to your BFF, you would not yell at them for having a piece of candy. You would likely say “of course one piece is fine” or “yes, enjoy a few today, but toss the rest before tomorrow.” Say it out loud to yourself. Believe it, as you would hope your friend would believe and listen to you. Enjoy a piece or three pieces. Then keep on movin’ and groovin’!👟Need something else to munch on Halloween night? Bake up some delicious pumpkin seeds! These seeds are packed with magnesium, iron, protein, potassium & fiber. OhMyGourd!
If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. ~Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, first Black Secretary of State #RIP
For comments, thoughts, requests or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: firstname.lastname@example.org
van Asten F, Chiu CY, Agrón E, Clemons TE, Ratnapriya R, Swaroop A, Klein ML, Fan R, Chew EY; Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 Research Group. No CFH or ARMS2 Interaction with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Low versus High Zinc, or β-Carotene versus Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2: Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 Report №18. Ophthalmology. 2019 Nov;126(11):1541–1548. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2019.06.004. Epub 2019 Jun 12. PMID: 31358387; PMCID: PMC6810822.