So we’re right into the depths of Autumn now – the days are long, dark and cold…the trees are almost bare, and the festivities are getting into full swing! Diwali and Thanksgiving have come and gone, but Christmas is on the way! It’s time to really make the most of our delicious seasonal produce and celebrate Autumn in style.

What’s New?

November has flown by in a blur of revision, university assignments and many other commitments, but it’s been productive! As you might have seen, I’ve added a new GetBuzzing page to my blog, where you can find all of the recipes I’ve made using these tasty bars (so far, there are many more to come!), as well as a page where you can find all of my nutrition resources.  Head there to find a collection of simple recipes and food guides, which I’ll be updating regularly. I’m also preparing to begin data collection for my nutrition-focused final year project, as well as making final plans for the pilot of the much-awaited British Swimming Breakfast Club! I’m so excited about these projects and will keep you all up to date with my progress in the near future, so keep a look out for upcoming posts over the next few weeks!

I’ve been lucky enough to become a member of the committee for Loughborough’s Landscaping and Gardening Society – a warm and welcoming community of like-minded individuals who all embrace the environment and wonderful produce it can yield when we look after it. We meet every Friday afternoon to clear up the garden, participate in activities such as taking cuttings and soup-making workshops, then round it all off with freshly-made soup (normally made using garden produce) and homemade treats around a bonfire. Not only has this been brilliant for me to meet a very diverse range of new friends, but I’ve also learnt so much and have the opportunity to completely de-stress at the end of a busy week. I’m also fortunate in that we share a lot of the foods that have been recently harvested, including many deliciously sweet apples, locally grown walnuts, and my favourite of all – pumpkin! If there’s one food that defines Autumn, it’s the humble pumpkin! And I have to say, LAGS’s pumpkins are the best I’ve ever tasted – proof that homegrown, organic produce really is the best. I’ve been using them in everything, from sweet dishes to savoury, but find the recipe for one of my top creations – spiced pumpkin and split pea soup – below. It’s hearty, nutritious and full of flavour – the perfect comfort food for combating the cold weather! Plus it’s suitable for vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant/dairy-free and gluten-free diets, so everyone can enjoy it!

Spiced Pumpkin and Split Pea Soup (Serves 2)

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Ingredients

  • 300g roasted pumpkin – roughly chopped into large chunks
  • 1 small onion – roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic – grated
  • 2cm cube fresh ginger – grated
  • 1tbsp coconut oil
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 200ml passata
  • 50ml light coconut milk
  • 60g dried yellow split peas
  • 1tbsp turmeric
  • 1tbsp cumin
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • A few sprigs fresh coriander

Method

  1. Heat a saucepan, then add the oil, allowing it to melt
  2. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and spices, then fry on a low heat for 2mins
  3. Pour in the vegetable stock and the peas (rinse these in cold water beforehand) and turn up the heat so that the liquid is simmering
  4. After 15mins, add in the passata, stir, then leave to simmer for a further 10mins
  5. Add in a few chopped coriander leaves and stalks, as well as the pumpkin. Stir carefully so that the pumpkin remains intact, then leave to heat through for 3 mins
  6. Finally, stir in the coconut milk, leave to simmer for 2mins, then serve it up!

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I love this soup when it’s topped off with a swirl of coconut milk, and sprinkle of chilli flakes and pumpkin seeds for extra flavour and texture. It’s not too spicy, but it’s warm, flavourful and highly nutritious. Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, potassium and iron – and since this was grown organically, I know that it was free from any nasty agricultural products. Split peas add in a nice dose of protein, more iron, magnesium, vitamin B6 and fibre. Spices, garlic and ginger are excellent for bringing in those all-important antioxidants to aid with immune function – something that becomes essential though the cold and flu season! And finally the coconut milk/oil adds in vitamins E and K, as well as saturated fat – it’s healthy to include this form of fat in the diet, so don’t fear it! Overall a fresh dish that’s simple, nutrient-dense, and packed with flavour. Give it a go yourself and share with friends or family, or save extra portions in the fridge for up to 3 days, or alternatively in the freezer until needed.

That’s all for this post – it’s short and sweet but hopefully you’ve enjoyed it! I’ll be back soon to update on breakfast study/club progress, and as Christmas approaches I’ll of course be whipping up some delicious themed bakes to get into the festive spirit! As always, feedback and suggestions welcome in the comments.

-TheCookingYam

Written by TheCookingYam

I'm a BSc Sport and Exercise Science Graduate from Loughborough University, and also work as a Nutrition Advisor and recipe developer for organisations such as British Swimming, Colour Fit and Bam Organic. I'm passionate about all things food, health and fitness, and have an ambition to share my knowledge with others. Qualified with Grade Distinction in Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Sports Nutrition to support my interest in food and health for active individuals.

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