Health, Recipe

Olive Leaf Extract- Why it’s so incredible.

Hello again guys, I hope you’re well and having a great week so far. I can’t believe it’s Friday and St. Patrick’s Day! I’m Irish so have been feeling a bit homesick today but have made the most of it and even had a cheeky little Guinness earlier to celebrate!

Firstly, I apologise for not posting sooner. I genuinely thought I’d have this post up last Sunday but I just didn’t get around to it. I’m currently doing a parasite cleanse at the moment and I’m now on day 12 out of 30. Last Saturday night was tough going as I ended up feeling extremely nauseous and vomiting for most of the night so I spent Sunday in bed just resting and watching films. I know it was just a detox reaction and actually shows that the cleanse is really clearing things which is great. I’m finally feeling much better today but still going to take it a little easier than usual for the next couple of days. I’ll be writing a blog on my experience with parasite cleansing soon so will speak more about what it is and why most people can benefit from doing it so be sure to check back if you’re interested.

Disclaimer: Please check with your doctor or healthcare provider before trying this supplement. Especially is you are pregnant, breastfeeding or suffer from any medical condition. I’m not a qualified healthcare professional and the information provided is just based on my opinion. I am not diagnosing or attempting to treat any health issue.

Ok, enough about cleansing. Today’s post is about one of my favourite supplements, Olive Leaf Extract. Olive trees, called Olea Europaea are evergreen trees native to the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa. The olive leaf itself was first used medicinally in Ancient Egypt with the Egyptians believing it had heavenly powers.

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Oleuropein is the active ingredient in olive leaf and numerous studies have shown it to produce many health benefits within the body. I have described these benefits in detail below:

1. Antimicrobial:

Olive leaf extract (OLE) either inhibits the production of or destroys a wide range of bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses. The antimicrobial effect of OLE was demonstrated in a study where it proved effective at killing almost all the bacteria and fungi tested including E-coli and Candida albicans (Markin et al 2003). This indicates that OLE may be useful in treating bacterial and fungal infections such as seborrhoeic dermatitis (dandruff) and tinea pedis (athlete’s foot.) The results of another study (Sudjana et al 2009) showed that OLE was particularly effective against H. Pylori, C. Jejuni, S. Aureus and MRSA. Therefore, it may have a role to play regarding the regulation of gut flora in the body, which in turn could have a beneficial effect on the digestive system, immune system and overall health of an individual. In regards to viruses, a study by (Gong et al 2011) has shown OLE to be successful at inhibiting acute infection and cell to cell transmission of the HIV-1 virus. In addition, A patent from the US (Fredrickson WR et al 2000) indicates that oleuropein has a potent antiviral action. Results from several studies have shown it to be effective against herpes mononucleosis, hepatitis virus, rotavirus, bovine rhinovirus, canine parvovirus, and feline leukemia virus.

2. Antioxidant:

Olive leaf extract is a powerful antioxidant meaning it neutralises free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced during the process of oxidation as they contain at least one unpaired electron meaning they are extremely reactive and can cause cellular and tissue damage. This can lead to accelerated ageing and contribute to a wide range of health problems such as cancer, atherosclerosis and inflammatory joint disease to name a few. Antioxidants help to combat the negative effects of free radicals by preventing the process of oxidation, they do this by donating an electron to the free radical and thus converting it into a harmless molecule. Wojcikowski et al (2007) carried out a study to test the antioxidant capacity of 55 herbs with the results showing olive leaf to have one of the highest antioxidant activity levels out of the herbs tested.

3. Anti-Inflammatory:

Olive leaf extract has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Such effects would be similar to that of NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen. Oleuropein has been shown to prevent the production of cytokines; proteins that regulate the  inflammatory response (Barbaro et al 2017). This could be beneficial for the management of certain health conditions such as arthritis. One study conducted by China’s Dalian Medical University in 2012 showed that OLE significantly reduced swelling in the paws of rats with arthritis (Gong et al 2012).

4. Anti- Cancer:

Oleuropein has been proven to be a potent anti-cancer compound. Hamdi and Castellon (2005) conducted a study that showed oleuropein caused complete regression of tumours in rats over a 9-11 day period. Another study conducted by Elamin et al 2013, showed oleuropein to be cytotoxic to breast cancer cells through the mechanism of apoptosis as well as inhibiting cell proliferation, once again showing it to be effective against cancer.

5. Anti- Atherogenic:

Studies have shown OLE to be effective against the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries.) Once such study by Wang et al (2008) showed that OLE supressed the inflammatory response and inhibited the development of atherosclerosis in rabbits tested. Subsequently a study by Carluccio et al (2003) showed that polyphenols in olive oil, and olive leaf contribute to the prevention of atherosclerosis. This means that OLE may be a useful supplement to aid in cardiovasular health.

As you can see, olive leaf extract provides wonderful health benefits which is why I use it regularly and always make sure to have a back-up supply on my supplement shelf. I take it to strengthen my immune system, especially during colder months or periods of high stress. I have found it to be wonderful at helping to restore my strength and vitality after taking Accutane (if you’d like to know more, please read Accutane- The Life Changer Part I and II). The lymph nodes in my neck used to be constantly swollen and they have now gone down since I started supplementing with OLE. Also, this past winter I really noticed that I picked up way less cold type symptoms compared to others around me.

Personally, I take OLE in capsule form. To make sure it’s potent I read the ingredients and look for a supplement that contains 100% olive leaf without fillers or binders added. As a maintenance dose I take 1000mg daily but if I have symptoms I take about 3000mg daily. The brand I use is Tigon and I have always found it to be extremely effective. I won’t lie, this supplement is expensive. I pay £27 for 60 capsules (each capsule contains 500mg olive leaf.) In my opinion it is totally worth the money and I rank it in my top three supplements. I always pack a bottle when I travel too as I find it helps to keep my immune system healthy when I’m overtired and stressed.

Another way I supplement with olive leaf is in the form of tea. I’ll leave the recipe below incase you’re interested in trying it:

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Olive Leaf Tea Recipe

Ingredients:
Dried olive leaves
Boiled Water

Equipment:
Pestle and mortar
Strainer

Method:

1. Take a few dried olive leaves (about 12 per person.)

2. Grind them up using the pestle and mortar.

3. Add the powder to a mug and add boiled water.

4. Brew for 8 minutes and then strain.

5. Drink and enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s content. I’ll be posting again in a few days time and definitely won’t be leaving it as long again!

Hope you all have a blessed and happy weekend,

Becky

References:

Barbaro, Barbara et al. “Effects Of The Olive-Derived Polyphenol Oleuropein On Human Health”. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 15.10 (2014): 18508-18524. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Carluccio, M. A. “Olive Oil And Red Wine Antioxidant Polyphenols Inhibit Endothelial Activation: Antiatherogenic Properties Of Mediterranean Diet Phytochemicals”. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 23.4 (2003): 622-629. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Elamin, Maha H. et al. “Olive Oil Oleuropein Has Anti-Breast Cancer Properties With Higher Efficiency On ER-Negative Cells”. Food and Chemical Toxicology 53 (2013): 310-316. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Fredrickson WR. F and S Group, Inc. Method and Composition for Antiviral Therapy with Olive Leaves. U.S. Patent. 2000;6:117–884.

Gong, Dezheng et al. “Mechanisms Of Olive Leaf Extract-Ameliorated Rat Arthritis Caused By Kaolin And Carrageenan”. Phytotherapy Research (2011): n/a-n/a. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Hamdi, Hamdi K. and Raquel Castellon. “Oleuropein, A Non-Toxic Olive Iridoid, Is An Anti-Tumor Agent And Cytoskeleton Disruptor”. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 334.3 (2005): 769-778. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Lee-Huang, Sylvia et al. “Anti-HIV Activity Of Olive Leaf Extract (OLE) And Modulation Of Host Cell Gene Expression By HIV-1 Infection And OLE Treatment”. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 307.4 (2003): 1029-1037. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Markin, D., L. Duek, and I. Berdicevsky. “In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity Of Olive Leaves. Antimikrobielle Wirksamkeit Von Olivenblattern In Vitro”. Mycoses 46.3-4 (2003): 132-136. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Sudjana, Aurelia N. et al. “Antimicrobial Activity Of Commercial Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract”. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 33.5 (2009): 461-463. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Wang, Lihui et al. “The Anti-Atherosclerotic Effect Of Olive Leaf Extract Is Related To Suppressed Inflammatory Response In Rabbits With Experimental Atherosclerosis”. European Journal of Nutrition 47.5 (2008): 235-243. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Wojcikowski, Ken et al. “Antioxidant Capacity Of 55 Medicinal Herbs Traditionally Used To Treat The Urinary System: A Comparison Using A Sequential Three-Solvent Extraction Process”. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 13.1 (2007): 103-110. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

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Food, Health, Recipe, Uncategorized

Ginger and Turmeric Drink

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well and having a great week so far. Today’s post is going to be a little drink recipe for you. This isn’t just a drink though it’s more like a health tonic. Its benefits are numerous so let’s get to the reasons why I make it regularly, especially during the cold, wet Autumn and Winter months here in England. On a side note, it’s blowing up a gale here in Cornwall as I’m typing this!

Ginger and Turmeric have many amazing health giving properties and together they are a match made in heaven. Listed below are some of the health benefits they provide.

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Ginger:

Ginger root contains a compound called gingerol. This pungent chemical is the main one that provides many medicinal benefits. Firstly, ginger is anti-inflammatory which can promote better health and be useful for sufferers of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. It has shown to be a useful remedy for helping to combat nausea and vomiting. Ginger also provides anti- oxidants which help to stabilise free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are found in the body. They are either by- products of digestion or they form in the skin and eyes after exposure to sunlight and environmental toxins. These free radicals cause negative effects in the body as they damage cellular DNA and membranes which can lead to accelerated ageing and an increased risk of cancer and other diseases. Therefore ginger’s potent anti-oxidant capacity helps to promote good health by reducing the amount of free radicals in the body.

Turmeric:

Turmeric root contains bioactive compounds called curcumoids. The most potent of these being curcumin. Just like ginger, curcumin in turmeric also has a high anti-inflammatory effect on the body which can be beneficial in assisting the treatment of chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric helps to promote good digestive health as it stimulates the gallbladder to release bile, a substance that is crucial for the digestion and absorption of fat. Anti- microbial benefits are provided by turmeric so it can be helpful in treating both bacterial and viral infections and strengthening the immune system overall.

Even though I cook with both of these spices often either in fresh or powdered form, I love to make a ginger and turmeric drink. I suppose it’s like a tea really but since it provides a heap of health benefits, I  view it as more of a tonic.

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Over the winter months I make it regularly as I crave it’s warming, stimulating effect. This drink is so easy to make and really cheap. It’s particularly good when you’re stressed out and a little ‘run down’  as I’ve found it to be a great little pick me up as it boosts my immune system. I also like to drink it a few times a day but particularly before meals to stimulate digestion.

Disclaimer: Please check with your doctor or healthcare provider before trying this drink if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking medication or suffer from any medical condition. I’m not a qualified healthcare provider and the information provided is just based on my opinion. I am not diagnosing or attempting to treat any health issue.

Ingredients:

Fresh ginger root (a large piece or a couple of smaller pieces)
Fresh turmeric root (about 6 large pieces 8 small)
750 ml cold filtered water
Optional: sweetener of choice to taste e.g. raw honey/ stevia/coconut palm sugar

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Method:

  1. You just peel the ginger and turmeric root and chop them into small chunks (you may want to use gloves as turmeric stains!)
  2. Add them to a small saucepan and cover with the water.
  3. Bring to a boil and then add the lid and simmer for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Add a bit of this ‘tonic’ to a mug and top up with boiled water. It should still be a deep orange colour so try not to make it too dilute.
  5. Sweeten to taste using raw honey, stevia, coconut palm sugar etc.

Note: I don’t use any sweetener and find the flavour really good soI advise trying it first as it’s obviously better to avoid sweetening it where possible.

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I hope you enjoy trying this drink recipe, it really has become a staple in my routine. You always know when I’ve made a fresh batch because my fingers are stained bright yellow!

I’ll be posting again before the end of this week. Looking forward to catching you all then.

Becky

P.S. I’d love to hear what drinks/ teas you enjoy drinking. I’m always on the look out for new ideas 🙂

 

 

Food, Recipe, Uncategorized

Raw Chocolate Coconut Truffles

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Hey guys, hope you’re doing well. I had hoped to get this recipe posted earlier this week but got a little busy with a few things.

Let’s cut to the chase- I LOVE chocolate. Simple. These days you’ll rarely find me snacking on what I call the ‘junkie’ kind i.e. the mass produced bars filled with refined sugar and dairy. Most of them are so low in cocoa and so high in sugar that thy don’t even taste of chocolate anyway. I mean don’t get me wrong, from time to time, I’ll eat a little of the standard stuff but it’s usually when I have no better option on hand or I just fancy it (happens occasionally.)

Once you eat more whole foods and less refined sugar I think your taste for commercial sweets diminish. I’d genuinely choose high quality dark chocolate over the sweeter, cheeper versions ANY day. As much as I love it, dark chocolate can get a little monotonous from time to time- this is a good moment to mention truffles.

The following recipe is my own but it is adapted from a recipe that I found online a year or two ago by Sarma Melngailis. I believe it’s a recipe from her book titled ‘Living Raw Food.’ I adjusted it slightly, using honey but adding less and I like the flavour of a little more salt. I also adjusted the quantities slightly and am extremely pleased with the current recipe. Anyway, thank you Sarma for the inspiraton.

These raw balls of delight are truly delicious! They are a healthier, unrefined and raw version of traditional chocolate truffles. If possible, use raw cacao powder as it’s minimally processed so has a higher nutritional value than processed cocoa. Raw cacao has a very high magnesium content and it’s rich in antioxidants. For the sweetener, I chose to use raw honey as I like the taste and it’s rich it vitamins, minerals and some amino acids. If you are vegan or prefer a different sweetener then it’s easily replaceable. Other suitable sweeteners are maple syrup, coconut nectar or rice bran syrup. You would keep the amount roughly the same but some are slightly less sweet than honey so adjust according to taste.

For the recipe, I used my trusty Nutribullet to blend everything. However, any high speed blender/ food processor would work. If you use a less powerful blender, the mixture will be more grainy and less ‘truffle like’ but still delicious.

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Enough chatting, let’s get to the recipe..

Makes: About 35 truffles (I forgot to count)

Nutritional Info: Dairy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, nut free, vegan option

Equipment needed: Blender (ideally a high speed one) or a food processor

Ingredients:

2/3 cup coconut oil melted

1/2 cup raw honey or chosen liquid sweetener

2tsp vanilla paste/ extract (I use one of each)

1/2 tsp unrefined finely ground salt (I use pink himalayan but sea salt would work)

1 1/4 cup desiccated coconut

2 heaped cups raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder) plus more for rolling

Method:

1. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a very low heat.

2. Turn off the heat and add the honey.

3. Add the coconut oil and honey mixture plus the vanilla paste and salt to the blender.

4. Add about half the coconut and blend, then add the rest of the coconut and blend to a smooth paste.

5. Sift the cacao powder in to a large bowl.

6. Add the coconut mixture to the cacao powder in the bowl and mix well.

7. Transfer the mixture to the fridge and chill for at least 20 minutes.

8. Dust a clean worktop with some sifted cacao powder and roll small amounts of the mixture in your hands before rolling them in the cacao powder to finish.

9. Then chill in the fridge for a few minutes.

10. Your truffles are now ready to enjoy!

Notes:

  • I like a little more salt than most people I know as I feel it intensifies the chocolate flavour- reduce to 1/4 tsp if you prefer.
  • I also prefer a less sweet truffle, feel free to add a little more sweetener if you would rather a less bitter finish (although mine are still sweet.)
  • Replace honey for coconut nectar/ maple syrup or rice syrup if you wish to make this recipe vegan.
  • If the mixture feels a little runny/ wet- add a little more cocao.

Feel free to roll your truffles in different finishes. I used cacao powder, desiccated coconut and for the cute pin ones, beetroot powder. You could also use matcha powder or different types of finely chopped nuts. These truffles make great presents too (if you can manage to part with them.) They went down extremely well with my friends and since they’re so simple and quick to make, I’ll be making another batch soon.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Becky

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Health, Recipe, Uncategorized

Why I drink salt water every day before breakfast.

Every morning before I make my breakfast I drink a glass of salt water. You might be thinking this sounds a little strange and that’s understandable, I used to think that too. I’ve been doing it for a few years now and there are many reasons why I’ve implemented it in to my daily routine.

Just before I continue, I’d like to clarify one important detail. I do not drink salt water made containing standard table salt i.e. Sodium Chloride. This salt is not healthy for you and all and causes a lot of health problems.

Table salt is highly processed has lots of chemicals added to it including synthetic iodine and anti- caking agents such as Sodium ferrocyanide (E535), Silicon dioxide (E551) and talcum powder (E553b). In addition to this, table salt is usually beached to give it a uniform white colour. The processing of this salt, strips it of all its minerals.

On the other hand, unrefined salts have not been processed or have had chemicals added to them and contain over 50 trace minerals needed for healthy cellular function. Examples of unrefined salts are Celtic sea salt and Pink Himalayan crystal salt. Celtic sea salt is grey in colour and harvested from coastal areas of France whereas Himalayan salt is harvested from the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in the Punjab region of Pakistan and is over 250 million years old. It originates from the evaporation of the primeval sea by the Sun’s energy way before humans polluted the Earth. It is also the only salt that includes the full spectrum of 84 trace minerals that are essential for life. In my cooking, I use both of these salts interchangeably. However, it is the Himalayan salt I use to make my morning drink.

Sole (pronounced So-lay) is a brine that is made by dissolving pink Himalayan crystal salt in filtered water until the solution becomes saturated i.e. no more salt can dissolve in the water. The great news is, it’s both cheap and easy to make and has a multitude of health benefits. Listed below are some of the health benefits of this drink.

Electrolyte balance:

Many salts break down in to their component ions when dissolved in solution. For example sodium chloride (NaCl) dissociates into its component positive and negative ion which is (Na+) and Cl -) respectively. This saltwater solution conducts electricity therefore it’s an electrolyte solution. The salt ions of which it is composed are known as electrolytes. There are several common electrolytes found in the human body that each play a specific and important role. Electrolytes are required for many different functions, one of the most important being maintaining the balance of fluids between the intracellular (inside the cell) and extracellular (outside the cell) environments. This balance is critically important for hydration, healthy pH level, muscle contraction and nerve impulses.

Detoxification:

Sole is antibacterial and antifungal. It has a cleansing effect on the body, helping to break down mucus and flush the body of waste materials and heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic.

Healthy Digestion:

Sole encourages healthy digestion in a number of ways. Firstly by aiding the production of amylase, an enzyme used to break down carbohydrates during the digestive process. Sole promotes the production of hydrochloric acid as well as enzymes from glands in the stomach lining that assist the breakdown of food and it stimulates peristalsis (intestinal activity) thereby supporting healthy metabolism and helping to prevent constipation.

Skin Health:

Sole is very beneficial to the skin and can help conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. A healthy gut is linked to healthy skin and since Sole helps to cleanse the intestines and regulate gut flora, this can be reflected in our skin. Minerals found in Sole such as Zinc, Sulphur and Chromium can really make a difference to the heath and appearance of our skin. Since Sole aids the fluid balance in the cells, it can help skin cells to retain more water and thus diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving the look of a brighter, more radiant complexion.

Supports thyroid and adrenal function:

Sole supports both the adrenals and thyroid by providing the body with sodium and zinc which are necessary for strong adrenal function and iodine which is crucial for thyroid health.

Supports Weight Loss:

Sole helps to regulate metabolism, improve blood sugar balance and reduces cravings. All of which play an important factor in weight management. Therefore, Sole can help you to lose weight if you are overweight.

Decreases incidences of muscle cramps:

Muscle cramps can be caused by an imbalance of electrolytes or a depletion of minerals. Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium are required for healthy muscles. All of these minerals are found in Sole.

Aids good quality sleep:

The trace minerals found in Sole, most notably Magnesium have a calming effect on the nervous system. They help to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol thus promoting good relaxation and sleep.
Boosts energy levels:
Since Sole helps to keep the body optimally hydrated by providing electrolytes and minerals as well as helping thyroid an adrenal function, it can result in higher energy levels and increased overall vitality.

Good for healthy bones and teeth:

Sole’s high mineral content helps to prevent leaching of minerals from bones. This means that bones and teeth can be stronger and it can help to prevent conditions such as Osteoporosis.

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Now that I’ve spoken about some of the amazing health benefits of drinking Sole, I’ll let you know how I make it.

What you need:

A few Himalayan rock salt crystals

Filtered water

Glass Jar or glass jug with a lid or cover

Small wooden, ceramic or glass spoon

Method:

1. Place a few salt crystals in your jar to about a third of the capacity of the container.

2. Fill the jar with cold filtered water.

3.Cover with a non metal lid (I use a jug and put a plate over the top.)

4. Leave for 24 hours.

5. The crystals will dissolve in the water. Keep adding a little more salt until  there is salt at the bottom of the jug and the solution is saturated.

6. Now your Sole is ready to drink!

7. Use a wooden, ceramic or glass spoon if possible as metal will negate the ionic charge in the solution.

8. Fill a glass of water (use good quality spring or filtered water).

9. Add 1tsp of Sole to the water and stir.

10. Drink on an empty stomach each morning and if possible wait at least ten minutes before eating or drinking anything.

***Note: Sole can cause a detox reaction as it helps to cleanse the body. If you notice effects such as skin breakouts, headaches or slight stomach upset then  decrease the dose to about ¼ tsp and slowing work up to 1 tsp over the course of a week or two.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner. Please consult with your health care provider before starting a new routine such as drinking Sole, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking other medications.

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Personally speaking, I have found that Sole has helped me in a variety of ways by continually taking it over time. I have noticed the most benefits in regard to increased energy levels and vitality, my skin is more radiant and nails and hair and stronger. Sometimes I  take a second serving in the afternoon if I feel like it or if I’m doing some pretty intense exercise to replace salts lost in sweat. Overall I feel it’s a ‘feel good’ tonic and a great all rounder to add to your health routine without having to spend a fortune or go to a lot of trouble.

Food, Health, Recipe, Uncategorized

A colourful soup recipe for these grey, Winter days.

Hi again, I hope you’ve had a lovely week. Well, I don’t know about you guys but when the weather’s pretty grey and cold (as it has been in Cornwall for the past few days) I crave colourful, warming and comforting food.

Spices are a wonderful addition to this soup as they add flavour, heat and are actually really good for you! During the winter season, it’s even more important to support your immune system in order to fend off colds and viruses and this recipe will help with this by giving your body a gentle boost.

The following recipe is wonderfully warming and uplifting, whilst being nourishing and satisfying. It’s one of my favourite soups as I love the creamy texture and think the sweetness of the roasted squash, red pepper and sweet potato are balanced with the sharpness of the lime and the spices. The full fat coconut milk makes it silky in texture and adds a real depth of flavour. Personally, it’s one of my favourite meals to eat during the Autumn/ Winter season and is really delicious.

I came up with this soup recipe about three years ago and wrote it down in an old copybook that I used to draft recipes in. Much to my dismay, I cannot find this little book anywhere! I’m hoping I will come across it soon. It’s really nothing pretty to look at as the edges are scuffed and worn and my handwriting’s terrible. However, it’s priceless to me. The recipes were a collection of my own I had put together (and altered and adjusted several times) over the past few years.

Anyway, I had to try to remember my old recipe when making this during the week. I almost had it spot on (much to my surprise) but added a little too much chilli, which I adjusted to a more balanced amount in the recipe! If you like it punchy, you could add another ¼ tsp chilli seeds but maybe try it first to see how you find it.

If I don’t come across my recipe book, I guess I will have to restart a new adventure of recipe writing. I’m continually reading new cookbooks and finding some truly awesome recipes online that give me tonnes of inspiration to come up with new ideas. I love to experiment and see what happens..

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Spiced Butternut Squash, Red Pepper and Coconut Soup

Extra nutritional info: Vegatarian, Vegan, Refined sugar free, Dairy free, Nut free, Egg free

Serving size: 6 generous portions

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash (1Kg)

1 sweet red pepper (150g)

3 medium sweet potatoes (600g)

2 medium onions (300g)

10 cloves garlic

1 chilli (including seeds)

1 inch piece fresh ginger

2x 400ml cans full fat coconut milk

Juice of 1 lime

1 ½ Tbs coconut oil

500ml boiled water

Spice mix:

3 bay leaves

¼ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 ½ Tbs ground coriander

1Tbs ground cumin

¾ Tbs garam masala

½ Tbs turmeric

¾ Tbs smoked paprika

Generous pinch unrefined salt

Garnish:

Dash of coconut milk (from on of the cans in the recipe)

Coriander leaves

Pinch of smoked paprika

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400F/gas 6
  2. Peel, deseed and cut the squash in to medium sized chunks (I find it easier to peel if I slice it first.)
  3. Deseed and cut the red pepper in to medium sized chunks.
  4. Put the chunks of squash and red pepper on a roasting tray and add about ½ Tbs coconut oil (sometimes I use rice bran oil) and season with a pinch of salt.
  5. Roast the squash and red pepper in the oven for about 30 minutes, until they are tender and a little ‘sticky’ but not charred.
  6. Whilst the squash and red pepper are roasting; dice the onions, peel and finely chop the ginger, the garlic cloves and the red chilli (omit the seeds if you prefer less spice but I love it on the hotter side.) Peel and dice the sweet potatoes.
  7.  Melt 1Tbs of coconut oil in a large pan on a low heat, add the diced onion and fry on a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the until is translucent in colour. Add a little cold water to the pan if you feel the onion sticking as you want to sauté it gently rather than caramelise it.
  8. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and chilli to the pan and simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly and adding a little cold water when necessary to prevent sticking.
  9. Add a generous pinch of unrefined salt to the pan (I use pink Himalayan) and stir, then add the bay leaves and spice mix.
  10.  Add a little more cold water, as you don’t want the spices to stick to the pan and burn. You want to create a ‘paste’ as a good base for the soup.
  11. Stir regularly and simmer on a low heat for about 6-7 minutes.
  12. Add the diced sweet potato to the pan. Keep the heat low- medium and stir regularly for about 5 minutes.
  13. Add the roast squash and red pepper to the pan and stir for about 2-3 minutes.
  14. Add both cans of coconut milk (saving a little for the garnish) and turn up the heat to medium.
  15. When it is at a boil and bubbling, turn down the heat and reduce to a low heat.
  16. Add the juice of one lime.
  17. Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes.
  18. Add 500 ml of boiled water and stir then puree the soup using a hand blender or food processor. Add a little more boiled water if you feel it’s too thick.
  19. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning accordingly – I sometimes add a little more salt or a dash of lime juice.
  20. Serve in pretty bowls and garnish with fresh coriander leaves, a little dash of coconut milk and a pinch of smoked paprika.