Saturday, October 23, 2010

Get Your Orange On - A Smoothie and Soup Made with Pumpkin or Squash

I’ve already mentioned how much I love squash, especially the sweet varieties this time of year, which is why I get very excited by all the wonderful recipes available using squash and sugar pumpkins. There are recipes for pies, soups, cookies, muffins, breads and pancakes flying all over the internet right now and thankfully we have a few months to try them out!

Over the last two weeks, I roasted a couple of sugar pumpkins and Kabocha squashes that I’ve either eaten plain, or used in the two recipes below. It’s well worth the little amount of work that goes into roasting your own veggies–the oven does all the work for you and the roasting adds a depth of flavor compared absent from simply steaming or boiling. Both the pumpkin and the squash have their own unique flavors that come out beautifully after roasting. In addition, the flavors are much fresher–something that canned varieties cannot live up to.

To me, Kabocha squash has more of a nuttier, earthier flavor than pumpkin yet is as sweet as pumpkin. It went equally well in both the smoothie and the soup. In fact, this is the first time that I’ve tried the smoothie recipe below and I was astonished at how good it was! It tasted like it couldn’t possibly be good for me, but if you scan over the ingredients, you’ll see that it’s high in protein and is naturally sweetened from the fruit and pumpkin/squash. This makes it a great remedy for any sweet tooth that may creep up on you.

In addition, both the pumpkin and squash low in calories and are rich in beta carotene, iron, vitamin C and potassium and fiber. At the risk of turning into a pumpkin yourself, try the recipes below this season for hearty and delicious ways to prepare your body for the coming colder weather.

To roast the pumpkin or squash, simply cut them in half length-wise, then place them cut side down in a baking dish. Bake at 350°F (~177°C) until a sharp knife can be easily inserted through the skin, ~1 hour. Let cool slightly, scoop out the seeds and set aside, then scoop out the flesh using a spoon. If desired, place the meat into a colander for a few hours to drain some of the water, then mash. Use in any recipe that calls for canned or fresh pumpkin or squash puree.

Pumpkin Smoothie

1 cup hemp milk

1/3 c pumpkin or squash

1 scoop protein powder

½ frozen banana

1 T raisins

sprinkle of cinnamon or whatever spices you like

Whip up the ingredients in a blender and enjoy immediately.

Pumpkin Soup

1 T grapeseed or coconut oil

1 small onion, chopped

4 cups vegetable stock, heated to almost boiling

Flesh from 1 medium roasted sugar pumpkin, mashed

1 t finely minced ginger

1 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1 - 2 t curry powder

1 – 2 t finely chopped thyme leaves and/or chives

1.5 – 2 c coconut milk

Saute the onion in the oil in a medium pot on medium heat until translucent. Add the pumpkin, vegetable stock, and spices. To avoid getting burned, carefully blend the soup in small batches in a blender then pour back into the pot. Or better yet, blend the soup directly in the pot using an immersion blender. Add the coconut milk and heat through.

To make Australian Pumpkin Soup, replace the coconut milk with ~1/2 block of firm tofu and add 2 T miso paste. This recipe also omits the cooking of the onion beforehand and cooks the pumpkin or squash in chunks directly in the broth with the rest of the ingredients.

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