Phew! Let’s take a a collective sigh of relief that the holidays are over. If you are anything like me you’re ready to move past the indulgence of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Too much food, too much booze, too much dressing up and going out.
If this was your first Christmas as a bride-to-be you probably noticed that wedding planning didn’t stop for the holidays. Those final payments on your venue and catering are getting closer – perhaps they didn’t get the memo that you just bought all of your girlfriends Kate Spade bags…
Don’t worry, it’s all good! My January motto is: regroup, renew, recharge.
This month I choose to hunker down, decline most social activities, eat cheaply and catch up on Netflix. So, if you are suffering a little post-holiday pre-wedding stress, I highly recommend you do the same.
This down-time lends itself brilliantly to long walks and nourishing food that is comforting, warm and easy to make. Silky, creamy, warm & gorgeous – just like you – The Bride’s Pumpkin Soup feels like a healthy hug in a bowl.
What makes this dish extra special is that it is chock full of anti-inflammatory ingredients.
What is an anti-inflammatory ingredient, and why do you need it?
Anti-inflammatory foods are the ones that help you, the busy bride, stay up and running despite your crazy schedule. Constant or out-of-control inflammation in the body leads to ill health, weight gain, digestive issues, lack of energy and other nasties. Inflammation can be caused by eating foods that are:
- High in sugar
- Artificial – diet foods and sodas
- Refined – white breads and pasta
- Excessive amounts of meat
- Excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol
- Polyunsaturated vegetable oils and trans fats
Inflammation may also be caused by constant low to moderate stress and sleepless nights – like those caused by wedding planning!
Fortunately, when we eat foods that help to minimize chronic inflammation we are able to promote better health and ward off disease. For brides in particular it is worth noting that reducing long term inflammation will help you lose fat, gain lean muscle, grow stronger nails, grow longer hair, and improve those dark under-eye circles.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
Those containing Omega 3 fatty acids – wild fatty fish such as salmon, flaxseeds, edamame, and walnuts
Dark, leafy green vegetables – spinach, kale, chard (organic if possible)
Colorful fruits and vegetables – beets, blueberries, pumpkin (of course!)
Herbs and spices – ginger, turmeric (see below)
Let’s Talk Turmeric!
Turmeric, from the curcuma longa plant, is a bright orange spice commonly used in Asian and Indian cooking and a powerhouse of nutrition. You might know turmeric as the spice in yellow curries, or mistaken it in the grocery store for a piece of ginger – they are relatives in the plant world after all.
Turmeric has been shown to have an abundance of medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties, thanks in large part to the ingredient curcumin, which gives it a brilliant orange hue. Curcumin works in the body by helping to turn off NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation. In other words turmeric, and curcumin in particular, fights inflammation at the molecular level, and does it in a pretty tasty way!
Did you know that consuming black pepper with turmeric helps to activate the medicinal properties and enhances the absorption of circumin into the bloodstream by 2000%?!
I love the taste of turmeric in anything from soups to stews and cereal to smoothies (mango and turmeric are a match made in heaven). I find the flavor fairly mild, a little bitter and reminiscent of ginger and orange. But if this is your first turmeric rodeo I recommend starting gently and building up once you become familiar with the taste.
You can buy turmeric dried and ground or, preferably, fresh from your supermarket or ethnic grocer. To store fresh turmeric wrap it in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for about one week.
Happy, healthy eating ladies,
The Bride’s Pumpkin Soup (Serves 4)
- 1 medium butternut pumpkin/squash (about 1 kg), skin scrubbed, cut in half lengthways and seeds removed
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, whole, skin removed
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric, or 2 teaspoons fried turmeric
- 1 teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper
- 3 – 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C and line a baking tray with parchment paper
- Place cut pumpkin, flesh side down, onto tray and surround with sliced onion and whole garlic cloves
- Roast 35 – 45 minutes until very tender. Allow to cool slightly. Once cooled scrape out pumpkin flesh from skin with a spoon
- Meanwhile gently heat stock and coconut milk in a medium saucepan on the stovetop, until warmed but not boiling
- Carefully add vegetable stock and coconut milk to a high-powered blender
- Add all remaining ingredients and blend, first on low then on high, until really smooth – if the texture is too thick add a little more stock
- Return soup to saucepan, season to taste and garnish with fresh herbs if desired