Thai Pumpkin Soup Recipe

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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

It’s been a big year for pumpkins. Friends and neighbours have all enjoyed a bumper harvest, and we’ve been gifted many of these versatile vegetables.

This yummy pumpkin soup recipe is my go-to when I’m tired and don’t feel like cooking. It’s quick to make, filling and delicious. The Thai flavours give it a lovely lift, and it freezes and reheats very well too.

Ingredients to serve 4 as a main meal:

8 cups of diced raw pumpkin – seeded and peeled; 1 x large onion – chopped; 2 x tablespoons of ready-made Thai Red Curry Paste; 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, butter or ghee; 1 x 270ml can of coconut cream – I really like the flavour of the Ayam brand, plus it is completely free of sugar, preservatives etc; 1 to 2 cups of good chicken stock or vegetable stock if you’re vegan (or use your favourite stock cubes/powder and water); 1 large kaffir lime leaf (this is optional and there is no substitute, but it imparts a heavenly flavour); 1 x fresh lime; 1 to 2 teaspoons of fish sauce – the fish sauce doesn’t make the soup taste ‘fishy’ at all, and gives a salty complex flavour (if you don’t have fish sauce or are vegan use a grind or two of salt instead ); fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped; fresh red chilli – deseeded and chopped; coconut or natural yoghurt.

Method:

Place the chopped onion, pumpkin, oil and curry paste in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until fragrant – about 2 minutes. Spoon in the can of coconut cream and enough chicken stock to cover the pumpkin. Pop in your kaffir lime leaf and bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.

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Remove kaffir lime leaf and discard. Cool soup slightly and then puree using a stick blender or food processor. If you don’t own one, then mash the pumpkin well with a potato masher – the soup will just be a little more textured from the pieces of onion.

Return to pot and reheat, adding in your fish sauce (or salt) to taste. If the soup is too thick, thin with a little more stock.

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To serve, ladle into bowls. Spoon a generous dollop of coconut or natural yoghurt on top, and sprinkle with some coriander and chilli. Lastly, give the soup a good squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Serve on its own, or with a good bread. We usually eat this with lashings of hot buttered sourdough toast.

It is a meal very much enjoyed by one-eyed pirates! 😉

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Easy Barbecued Corn on the Cob Recipe

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We came home to our now flood-free farm last night. Of course I didn’t think to plan dinner, and there were slim pickings when we got here.  Luckily it’s sweet corn season right now in Australia and some had survived the rain and the critters to become a simple meal. Simple is highly under-rated, in my humble opinion…

Cooking your corn on the barbecue is a tasty way to serve it – as a meal on its own, or as a side.

If your corn isn’t fresh picked you may want to soak the whole cob in cold water for an hour or so to stop the husks burning, but if the husks are still moist and tender then omit this step.  Our corn is straight from the garden, so I’m not bothering.

Note: If possible please choose organic non-GMO corn or grow your own. GMO corn is not something I’d be happy feeding to my family, or eating myself. The corn in our vegetable patch is an old heritage variety called True Gold. Easy to grow and the flavour is fantastic. 🙂

Ingredients for four servings:

4 x fresh ears of corn in the husk, 4 x fat cloves of garlic, 2 x tablespoons of butter. If you’re eating dairy-free or are a vegan, substitute olive oil for the butter. You can also omit garlic, or throw in a handful of chopped fresh herbs if you prefer.

Melt the butter and allow to cool a little.

Gently pull the husks back and remove the silk from each ear.

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Crush your garlic and add to the butter.  Then brush each ear of corn liberally and pull the husks back over the cob.

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Place on a hot grill, and turn occasionally.  Cooking should take about ten minutes. You’ll find that some of the corn gets a little charred, imparting a smoky sweetness. Trust me – that’s the most delicious bit!

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We had a little whoosh-ka moment at the end here, with a bright flash of flames as the now dried husks lit up momentarily when I lifted the lid on my barbecue. Don’t panic if that happens. It will last second or two, and you’ll end up with less husk to pull away.

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Carefully pull back or rip off the husks, brush off any remaining husk, add extra garlic butter and salt and pepper if you like, and then devour!

Nom nom nom 🙂

2013-03-06 19.25.30

Coconut, Ginger and Cardamom Rice Pudding Recipe – Vegan

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Because my Power Word for 2013 is HEALTH, I’ve been modifying a few of my favourite recipes.

This creamy-sweet rice pudding has the added lusciousness of Indian spices, and is entirely dairy, gluten and cane-sugar free.  And it’s vegan to boot, for those of you who are lovers of plant-based diets.

It can be eaten warm or chilled, so it’s perfect for any time of the year.

Ingredients: 1 x 400ml can of coconut cream, 1/2 cup of rice of your choice, 12 green cardamon pods, an inch of freshly grated or finely chopped ginger root, 1/3 cup of palm sugar, raw honey or maple syrup (or to taste), pinch of salt.

Method:

Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush the cardamom pods. You could also do this with the blade of a heavy knife. This releases the aromatic oils from the tiny seeds inside the pods.  If you are especially finicky you can pull out all the green pods, leaving just the seeds, but I never bother.  They soften up when you cook them, so you can either eat them or dig them out later.

Cardamom-pods-4

Tip your can of coconut cream into a large saucepan, and then use the empty can and add one and a half cans of water to the pot.

Grate your ginger and add the ginger and crushed cardamom to the pot, then bring to the boil.  Now slowly sprinkle in your rice, stirring well.  Let it boil for a minute or two and then bring your pot down to a slow simmer.  Stir every so often so it doesn’t stick on the bottom. It will take about 40 to 60 minutes for your pudding to cook, depending on how low you have your heat. (Add a little more water if needed.) Test the rice – if it is soft, and the mixture is thick and creamy, it is ready.

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Add in your sweetener, checking as you go, so you don’t add in too much. Then add a pinch of good salt and check that you are happy with the taste.

There is nothing more to be done except eat and enjoy!

Some of my favourite serving options include a spoonful of creamy coconut yogurt  (you can often find this in health food stores) over the top, and a little seasonal fruit.

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For a special occasion, layer it into a glass with some fresh or preserved fruit and a good yogurt, and top with some crushed pistachio or toasted crushed cashew nuts.

If you liked this recipe, you might want to try my:

Mandarin and Coconut Jelly Recipe

Healthy Breakfast Parfait Recipe

Here’s a sneak preview of the Breakfast Parfait, which you can use to inspire you about serving suggestions with your Coconut, Ginger and Cardamom Rice Pudding…

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Simple Homemade Christmas Gifts – Scrub and Soak Recipes

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“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” ~ Peg Bracken

Christmas is too often a time of crass commercialism, stress and expense. (There’s a great article by George Monbiot on this very theme right here.)

But I do love the idea of gift-giving to the people I hold dear. I do like the concept of using Christmas to honour and thank the people who have helped and supported us throughout the year.

I make many of our Christmas gifts. Most of them are edible (try my Five-Minute Fudge, Coconut Ice, Easy Lemon Curd, Capsicum Jam – a sweet and sour delight that goes well with bread, cheese and meats, or Cherry Ripe Slice) but I also make organic skincare treats that are so wholesome you could actually eat most of them if you felt so inclined.

They are easy to make, cost very little, and are fun to create with the kids too! You can use also use recycled jars or containers to further cut down on costs, and to be environmentally friendly. You may prefer plastic for safety reasons. It’s really up to you.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Orange Scrub

This is a great scrub for sensitive skin, hands, faces and decollettes, and it smells so good, leaving your skin soft and lightly fragranced after use. Wet skin first and then rub a small amount of scrub in a circular motion.  Rinse well and pat dry. The oil in the scrub means you won’t have to moisturize.

Ingredients: 1 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of macadamia oil (or you could use sweet almond or apricot oil), 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 3 drops of sweet orange oil.  Hint – To improve the keeping qualities you can also add the contents of two capsules of Vitamin E oil as a natural preservative. Just pierce the capsule and squeeze the oil into the mixture.

Method: Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together well until combined. Add a little extra oil if it’s too dry. Spoon into clean jars, tie with a ribbon and make your own label. Don’t be alarmed if a thin layer of oil settles on the top – it’s a moist scrub.

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Coconut-Vanilla Sugar Body Scrub

This scrub uses white sugar, and is a coarser scrub. It is terrific for wintery (or lizard-skin!) arms and legs, dry feet and elbows, and to help prevent ingrown hairs after waxing or shaving. Once again, wet skin first before applying.

Ingredients: 1 heaped cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of virgin cold-pressed organic coconut oil (if the oil is solid, stand the jar in a sink full of hot water – don’t microwave it!) , 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. 

Method: Place sugar and vanilla in a bowl and mix coconut oil in gradually until combined. The texture should be grainy and moist.  Spoon into clean jars, tie with a ribbon and make your own label. * The mixture may solidify a little in cold weather, but will still be easy to spoon out of the jar.

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‘Happy New Year’ Detox and Revive Bath Soak

This final recipe is for adding to a bath or foot soak.  The fragrance of this soak is fresh and clean, and perfect for adding zip after all that partying. The salts replenish your potassium and magnesium, the clay softens and cleanses your skin and the essential oils aid detoxification, mental invigoration and muscle relaxation. Use a couple of heaped tablespoons in a foot bath, and up to one cup in a hot bath.

Ingredients: 3 cups Epsom Salts, 1/2 cup of rock salt (larger crystals) and 1/2 cup of celtic or other natural salt, 3 tablespoons of French Green Clay, 25 grams dried rosemary (about 3 tablespoons), 15 drops of rosemary essential oil, 20 drops of grapefruit essential oil, 20 drops of lavender essential oil.

Method: Mix all ingredients until well combined. Spoon into clean jars, tie with a ribbon and make your own label.

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Strengthening Intuition Week 6 – Sensing Energy in Food

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”  ~ Brillat-Savarin

Have you been following along with our Strengthening Intuition Program so far? In today’s post I’m going to show you how to tune in to the energy of food.  This is a fun and useful skill to have – it begins to connect you much more consciously to the world around you, and you can’t help but begin to make healthier food choices as your level of awareness around food’s energy grows.

All food contains something called bio-photonic energy.  Bio-photonic energy is captured within a living cell, as a result of exposure to the sun, and to the plant or animal’s connection with the earth.  You could also consider it a form of life force that is within every living thing.

Scientists have done studies that show people with strong health emit a very high level of bio-photonic energy, and people who are ill emit much less.  It’s the same with food.  Food that is organic, wild grown and fresh emits a much stronger bio-photonic energy than factory farmed foods or foods that have been stored, processed, cooked or irradiated. (More info here and quite a technical article, but fascinating, here.)

When we eat food, the bio-photonic energy transfers from that food to our own bodies.  So the more bio-photonic energy we consume from fresh food, the healthier and more energised we become. Seems simple, huh?

Today I’m going to show you how to develop an awareness of the energy in food.  You could do this by taking yourself to a food market, or by using some of the produce and food stuffs you already have at home.

Image from www.holidaygroceries2u.com.au

Activity:

Take a selection of foods and lay them on a table.  You might want to use some fresh fruits or vegetables, some eggs, some dried foods such as nuts or grains, and some packaged foods.  (If you are at a market or store, simply move from area to area to work with each food group.)

Begin by activating your Hand Chakras.  You can review that process in these posts:

Strengthening Intuition Week 1 – Activating your Hand Chakras

Strengthening Intuition Week 2 – Sensing Energy in Objects

Hold your hand slightly over a food item and tune in to it. (Alternatively, you could also hold the food in the palm of your hand, but I prefer to hold my hand above the item so I can tune in and then quickly move on.  This is also a better method if you want to ‘scan’ items – more about this in a moment!)

Image from www.ourladyofsecondhelpings.com

Now, back to our food item. Relax, and open your mind. When you hold your hand over the food and tune in, what do you feel:

  • Is the energy strong or weak?
  • Can you feel any heat or cold?
  • Is there any pattern of tingling or do you get any colours or images in your mind?
  • How does this food make you FEEL? Pay attention to your emotions and physical sensations.

Food with a high level of bio-photonic energy will feel ‘light’, strong, energised, make your hands warm or tingly, and create bright images, colours and sensations within your mind and body.

Food with little life force will feel ‘flat’, heavy, dead and will have weak energy. Or you won’t feel anything at all.  Fresh food that has been irradiated or stored for a long time can often feel this way.  It might look okay, but have very little energy at all.

The colour most often generated in the mind when dealing with low energy food is grey. Food that is toxic in some way can often feel quite cold, or alarmingly hot. But the heat will never feel like a good thing – more like a flame you want to take your hand away from before you get burned.

Move on now, and scan a range of different items.  Do this quite rapidly, by running your hand over the top of the items, pausing briefly over each one – you’ll notice that it won’t take long before you become quicker at tuning in.

Then come back to some fresh fruits or vegetables where you have several of the one item.  Feel the energy of each item to work out which has the strongest energy.  Was that visually noticeable too, or can you only feel the difference through your hands?

This week, experiment with sensing energy in food – using raw ingredients, packaged foods, beverages and even prepared meals. Stay open, and really allow yourself to have fun with this new level of awareness.

(*Warning – some of this might NOT be such fun, as you come to realise just how energetically ‘dead’ some of your favourite foodstuffs can be…)

Image from www.civileats.com

Now that you can tune in to the energy of food, begin to choose foods for yourself and your family that have stronger energy and life force. The smallest changes to your eating habits will begin to have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being, and will also help you to become clearer and more energetically sensitive.

Image from www.theironyou.com

I thoroughly recommend choosing foods that lift and support your energy.  ‘Treat’ food is still okay, because you have to be able to enjoy life – but a basket full of vibrant fresh food is one of the best ways to begin feeling better, and that has to be a good thing!

Much love to you, Nicole  ♥ xx

And don’t forget that today is your last day for being in the running to win one of my  healing necklaces, hand-crafted especially for you – details here.

Roasted Tomato Salad with Sumac Dressing Recipe

Yesterday morning I ventured out early to the Mullumbimby Farmers’ Markets. One of the joys of market shopping is that you never know what produce will be offered or what you might bring home.

In my basket ended up some celery, mixed lettuce, local cheddar, a jar of local honey, and some sweet firm tomatoes.

It became a busy day – my lovely assistant Nicki came to visit at my farm, and we spent the morning sorting through crystals.  By lunch we were famished. I needed quick food that was tasty and satisfying – a barbeque and salad!

The barbeque part was easy – we threw some lamb chops on the hot plate.  And the salad?  Elevated to something special with just a few minutes work, using my basket of fresh produce!

I used sumac in the dressing because it gives such a refreshing lemony zing. If you don’t have sumac, add a shake of paprika or smoked paprika and a little lemon zest instead.

Ingredients:

Firm ripe tomatoes, salt and pepper and a spice or herb of your choice (I used cajun herbs), olive oil spray, lettuce, celery, some good cheese.

Dressing:

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon sumac, 1 teaspoon honey – Put into a lidded jar and shake like mad for a minute until combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Method:

Slice your tomatoes and arrange on a sheet of non-stick paper for easy clean up.

Spray or brush lightly with olive oil and then sprinkle your seasoning on, and a little salt and pepper.  Place into a very hot oven for fifteen minutes.

Tear up your clean lettuce and place into a bowl.  Chop celery and cheese, and make dressing while you wait for the tomatoes to roast.

Snack on some celery and cheese – what a winning combination.

Remove tomatoes from oven. Place on salad leaves.

Throw the celery and cheese on as well.  Give the dressing one last shake and pour over the top.

Serve and enjoy.  This salad would be great on its own with crusty bread, or as a tasty side for grilled meats, roasts, or rich foods.  Vegans, this tastes just as good minus the cheese!  If I was going to veganise this, I’d add some lightly toasted walnuts instead.

This last picture proves that the salad was indeed fast, and made with a minimum of fuss in a kitchen entirely devoted to a higher purpose… LOL!

Roast Carrot and Pine Nut Salad

This is a delicious salad that can fill you up on its own, or that makes a beautiful side for other dishes.  I’ve made this with baked carrots, but you could also use baked parsnip or sweet potato for equally tasty results.

Hint:  If you are prone to nibbling on the baked vegetables prior to serving, double the quantity – or at least cook a few extra as chef snacks…

Salad Ingredients:

4 cups of mixed leaves (today I’ve used rocket, mustard greens and baby spinach because that’s what was in my garden), a handful of chopped spring onion/green shallots, 2 large tomatoes chopped into wedges (or use a handful or two of cherry tomatoes), 1/2 a red salad onion sliced into fine rings, 6 to 8 largish carrots , 2 heaped tablespoons of pinenuts

Chop the carrots into batons or wedges, coat lightly with olive or coconut oil and bake in a moderate oven for around 30 mins or until cooked to your liking.

Toast the pinenuts in a dry frypan over medium heat for one to two minutes until they are light to golden brown.  Watch them carefully as they can burn easily!

Lemon Dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup virgin cold pressed olive oil, generous pinch of salt, generous pinch of raw sugar, 1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger or 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root.  Place in jar, add  lid and shake like crazy until emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Pour over salad just before serving.

If you’re looking for a higher protein content, add some fetta cheese, or some grilled haloumi (my absolute favourite with this salad!)

The salad can be served warm, with the carrots straight out of the oven, or as a cold dish once your baked vegetables have cooled.  This transports really well for picnics and other adventures too.  Enjoy!