I’m writing this just as the weather in Melbourne heats up. I feel like I am one week late with the single figure temperatures and the need for heaters, socks and soups. I know this won’t last though….after all, it is Melbourne. Cauliflowers are doing their thing at the moment. They’re cheap and abundant and have a taste that when roasted or toasted, can’t be beaten.
Now we can stop romanticising about cauliflower and get down to a more serious topic - lunch. A forgotten meal that seems to be dodged of quality and sustenance. I, myself am guilty of this. The funny thing is, avoiding lunch seems to have a lot to do with our quality of digestion and the way lunch makes us feel for the rest of the day. It is counterproductive to eat lunch for energy to then have it smack you against a brick wall and leave you there for the next few hours. And don’t forget to mention the bloating and stomach pains that have you calling the doctor for every allergy and food intolerance test under the sun. I can see why you don’t want to eat lunch.
Quality digestion requires your upmost attention: attention to carry out the task and attention to what you are eating. Acute and chronic stress will divert your attention from the digestive process but in both situations, you can streamline your focus straight to your food just for that moment. How do you do this? You can do the following three things:
- prior to taking your first mouthful, stop, put everything down, look at your food and take 3 deep breathes right down into the pit of your stomach.
- chew each mouthful approximately 20-30 times. Masticating (fancy word alert!) or chewing stimulates the flow of saliva, one of your strongest digestive substances that begins the process of digestion of starches and fats.
- stop eating when you’re three quarters through your meal, put down your utensils and take another 3 deep breathes. This gives you time to decide whether you’re full, hungry or just really loving the taste of your food.
Now to what you are eating. If you are feeling shot after lunch or get some nasty tummy symptoms then you need to not only think about how you’re eating but what it is you’re eating. If you’re continually feeling like their is a brick in your stomach after your big, healthy raw vegetable salad then you’re most likely not breaking that food down properly and potentially not absorbing the nutrients. Healthy salad becomes null and void. Looking for foods that do not shock your digestive system and do not make it work over time is the key to making lunch a peaceful meal. This is when soup becomes your best friend. I turn to soup when I know I’m going through a busy period at work and the thought of stopping to indulge in a big lentil-a-ful bowl of grain salad is enough to make me bloat up like a balloon. Add in some warming herbs and spices and you have a meal that nourishes your digestive system and boosts your metabolism at the same time.
Some may argue that soup is devoid of a number of nutrients as they get destroyed during the cooking process. This is a fair and true comment. But, if your digestion is not functioning well then there is no chance you are breaking down and absorbing nutrients of raw food as well as you should be. You’re better off eating a soup that supports your digestion and getting all the nutrients available to you rather than eating a raw bowl of vegetables that irritates your digestive tract further and limits your nutrient absorption.
This soup was a bit of an experiment that worked out really well. It serves 4-6 people and can be kept in the fridge for up to a week. Alternatively, you can freeze it in individual portions once it has cooled.
1 tbsp grape seed oil or coconut oil
450g cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a head)
450g butternut pumpkin (about 1/4 of a whole), cubed
2 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
1 tspn cumin powder
1/2 tspn hot paprika
1 tspn sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
1 litre of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat
2. Add the cauliflower and garlic cloves and toast off for around 10 minutes or until the florets are browning
3. Add in the pumpkin and spices and continue to brown everything off for another 5 minutes
4. Once everything has started to soften and smell fragrant, add the bay leaf and stock and bring the pot to the boil
5. Turn down pot down to a simmer and cover to allow to cook for 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
6. While the soup is cooking, toast some pumpkin seeds in a little bit of oil in a fry pan. These are to go on top of your soup with the coriander :)
7. Once the vegetables are tender, place all the contents of the pot into a blender and blitz until smooth
8. Return the mix to the pot, season to taste and enjoy immediately topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped coriander.
After making this soup a number of times, the addition of the spicy chickpea topping is now a mandatory feature. So I thought I would write it down for those wishing to add something extra to the soup. If you do not want to go here, toasting off some pumpkin seeds as per the original recipe is still very delicious and provides that 'crunch' factor.
1. when you are preparing your soup ingredients, turn your oven on to 200 degrees and line a small baking tray with baking paper
2. place your rinsed chickpeas (keep them a little bit wet so the spices stick to them) into a mixing bowl and add the spices, cheese/nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and toss until the chickpeas are well coated.
3. Spread them out onto the baking tray and place in the oven to roast for around 30 minutes or until golden brown. Then top each soup bowl with a good serving of the chickpeas and store the remainder in a airtight container in the fridge.
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed well
1 tspn cumin
1 tspn paprika
1 tspn coriander
1 tbsp grated parmesan or nutritional yeast
A good sprinkle of salt and pepper
- To boost the protein of this meal, fry some tofu slices while you are toasting your pumpkin seeds and add to the top of your soup.