Roasted Spiced Pumpkin soup with Coconut milk and Curried Chickpeas "croutons"

FALL IS HERE! It has been 5 months since I started changing my eating habits and many many things have happened. I started running and exercising regularly. I lost 28lbs. I lost at least 10 inches and 2 pants sizes. I gained strength and confidence in myself. I got used so much to eating this way that I crave it and miss it if I go too long eating "normal" food. I have discovered many recipes but I simply stopped to share them, but now here I am ready to start posting again, hopefully more regularly.
Fall = pumpkins + colder weather = pumpkin soup! This soup is extra warming, thanks to the many spices I added, so make it on a cold wet dreary day (like today in my case) and you won't regret it! I like using the pumpkin because it gives me an excuse to go to one of the wonderful farm stands that are around me and pick a couple with my kids, but I am sure you can substitute with canned pumpkin, I am just not sure how many cans you would need.


1 small Pie pumpkin
1 medium onion
1-2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 can of lite coconut milk
2-3 cups of vegetable broth
1 can of chickpeas
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (or preferred oil)


curry powder
roasted cumin
roasted coriander
ground cloves


Cut the stem off the pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half and get all the seeds and the strands out. You can keep the seeds for roasting if you like that. Turn the oven on at 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in quarters and place on a baking sheet (no oil or salt needed) for about 45 minutes or until you are able to pierce the flesh of the pumpkin with a fork. You can find some excellent pictures and detailed instructions on how to roast a pumpkin at the Pioneer Woman. Once the pumpkin is cooked it should be easy to peel and cut into cubes. They don't have to be perfect, since you are going to blend them, just small enough that your blender will be able to deal with them. Do not turn the oven off! Turn it up to 450 because you are going to need it for the croutons.

Wash the chickpeas in a colander and place them on a non stick baking sheet (or a regular sheet covered in parchment paper). Season the chickpeas with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and a couple of teaspoons of curry powder. Place the chickpeas in the oven. I made the rest of the soup while they were roasting, because the croutons are best if eaten straight out of the oven, but they need at least 30 minutes to cook.

Dice the onion and place it in a large soup pot ( I use my beloved iron cast dutch oven) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook stirring until the onion is translucent. Add the minced garlic and the grated ginger and stir until fragrant.
Add the spices. I added about a teaspoon of each, you can add more or less and you could probably even vary the mix of spices. The important thing is that you use a lot and that you like the mix you are using. If you are just going to use one, I would go with the curry powder since it is already a mix of many other spices.
After stirring vigorously and making sure the spices are coating the onion-garlic-ginger mixture, add the pumpkin cubes and stir vigorously again. At this point you can also add some salt to taste, but keep in mind that the croutons are also going to be salty.
Add the broth and bring to a boil. Do not add too much broth, just enough to get to cover 3/4 of the vegetables.
With an immersion blender puree the pumpkin mixture. If you don't own one (and I strongly recommend you acquire one if you like creamy soups!) you can also pour the mixture into your blender, as long as it is resistant to heat. After pureeing the pumpkin mixture turn the stove off and add the coconut milk blending a little more if necessary.
Serve the soup topped with croutons. Who needs pumpkin spice lattes when you can have this?

Coconut Curry with Rutabaga, Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Let me tell you about this awesome vegetable I found:
rutabaga root

This my friends is a rutabaga: you probably saw it hanging out at the store with the other more popular root vegetables like potato and sweet potato. And those popular kids probably looked down at the humble rutabaga singing "nah nah nah nah everybody loves us, nobody buys you" while the rutabaga silently cried while thinking "one day someone will buy me and realize that if they use me instead of you they will get to wear those pants they don't fit into anymore. And then, it will be over for you smug potatoes!!! bwahahahahaha" . Ok maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but for a long time I have been looking for the holy grail of root vegetables. That vegetable that could take the place of the super starchy potato and even the slightly better sweet potato and cut in half my calories. I tried celeriac, parsnip, parsley root, turnip and kohlrabi. And while all of them have a place in my cooking I think Rutabaga might be the closer candidate to replace potatoes in many of my recipes. Let's have a look at the facts: rutabaga is actually related to the cabbage, much like kohlrabi. But unlike kohlrabi, rutabaga will lose that pungent cabbagey smell and flavor once cooked thoroughly. And that's awesome. It is not as starchy as a potato so I don't know how well it would fry, but that doesn't concern us since fried food isn't exactly what we are looking for, right? Let's say that you have a soup, and you need to add some body to your soup: a potato packs 77 calories per 100 g while a rutabaga only 38 so half as much! Rutabaga is also higher in vitamin C and calcium then potatoes, but potatoes do have slightly more protein. 

For my first experimentation with rutabaga I decided to make a coconut curry. None of my curries are exactly authentic, I just adapted some of what I learned from experience and I am sure this is a very westernized, very unauthentic version of curry, but it works for me and I hope my Thai or Indian readers will forgive me for even calling this a curry.
I thought it tasted delicious AND at 347 calories a serving ( see complete nutritional info at the bottom) I think it is definitely a keeper! My version was pretty heavy on the spices because that's the way I like it, you can go lighter or heavier, I would love to hear your variations in the comments below!

coconut curry with rutabaga cauliflower and chickpeas from

Ingredients (for 3 servings)

2 large carrots, diced
3 cups of peeled and cubed Rutabaga (1 medium-large)
10 oz of cauliflower cut  into florets
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
200 ml (half a can) of lite coconut milk
1 can of garbanzo beans
4 oz of sugar snap peas, cut into 1 inch chunks
1-2 cups of spinach
3 tablespoons (or to taste) of curry powder or other curry of choice (if you use a curry paste beware of the extra fats!)
red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
1 tablespoon of fresh ground ginger
3-4 minced garlic cloves
3 cups of vegetable broth


Put the olive oil in a dutch oven and cook the onion and the carrots with 2 tablespoon of the curry powder until they are translucent than add the garlic and the ginger and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Add the rutabaga and the broth (add more water if needed) then cover and cook on medium for at least 15-20 minutes or until the rutabaga is soft (it could be longer, depending on how small you cut it)

Add the cauliflower, stir, add the remaining curry powder and the red pepper flakes if needed. Then add the coconut milk and stir. Cover again and cook another 5-10 minutes. I like to over cook the cauliflower in my curry so that it becomes almost a paste or a cream that "holds" the curry together. 

Add the sugar snap peas, the rinsed garbanzo beans and the spinach. Cook only a couple of minutes until the spinach is wilted.

Serve with your favorite chutney or with a wedge of lime and a spoon of freshly cut cilantro!

Nutritional info per portion according to MyNetDiary:
Calories 347
Total fat 10g
Saturated fat 4.1g
polyunsaturated fat 0.9g
monounsaturated fat 3.4g
cholesterol 5.6mg
potassium 1037mg
total carbs 55g
dietary fiber 15g
sugars 14g
Protein 12g
Vitamin A 184%
Vitamin C 153%
Calcium 14%
Iron 18%

Kale, Pepper and White Bean Salad

I must admit this salad didn't come to me out of profound inspiration. It was one of those times when you are starving and you look in the fridge and kind of just throw stuff together. But, it turned out so good, so nutritious and so satisfactory that I decided to share. The trick with kale is to make sure the seasoning really gets on every leaf to soften the harder fibrous leaves. Massaging kale is the best way to get the best out of this amazing superfood, plus you get a nice oil mask for your hands while you do it, so it's a win-win situation right? Normal bell peppers might work too, but I prefer the mini peppers because they are thinner and easier to chew, plus I find them easier to digest, as long as I discard all the seeds.


4 leaves of lacinato kale
1/2 cup of canned small white beans
1 vine ripened tomato
5-6 mini sweet peppers
2-3 green onions
1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar (or more, to taste)
salt to taste

Cut the kale leaves along the stem. You can discard the stems or keep them for smoothies or juicing. Tear the leaves apart into 1-2 inches pieces.

Season the kale with salt, oil and vinegar and "massage" the seasoning into the leaves. Let it rest while you prepare the other ingredients.

Take the stem off the mini peppers and make sure to wash away all the hard to digest seeds then cut into 1 inch bites.

Cut the tomato into wedges and discard the liquid-seedy part.

Chop the green onions.

Rinse the white beans until there isn't anymore foam.

Add all the ingredients to the kale and toss well. Enjoy!

Total Calories: 367
Total fat 7.9 g (1g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 62g
Dietary Fiber: 19g
Sugars 8.7g
Vitamin A: 403%
Vitamin C: 610%
Calcium: 26%
Iron: 33%

"Lucchese" Soup with Lentils, Wheat Berries and Amaranth

Tonight I felt like I needed a little bit of home. I usually like to explore new tastes and since I have changed my diet I have been experimenting quite a lot with new flavors, but tonight I needed something that would bring me back home to Tuscany. One of the typical local foods of Lucca is Farro soup with lentils. Farro is a delicious kind of wheat, a more ancient variety of red wheat and if you can find it and want to spend a little extra, by all means I encourage you to try it. I had red wheat berries at home so I used those instead. The result was exactly what I needed: as warm in my stomach as it was in my heart. Most of the ingredients I used are staples in my house, that's why the herbs are dried rather than fresh, but if you have fresh herbs even better. The anchovies have a very important function: they add saltiness and umami-ness to the dish, and you can't actually taste them at the end. In the traditional italian soup some kind of pancetta or bacon is often used to impart smokiness and fattiness to the whole soup, I decided to use the anchovies instead and they worked great. Make sure to use the oil packed kind and not the salted kind, I usually find them in the Italian aisle of my supermarket. I also used three different kinds of lentils because I had only a little bit left from each package. I think the end result was very pretty and pleasant, but if you only want to use one lentil I think a green or a brown lentil would work as well. 

Lucchese Soup with Lentils, Wheat Berries and Amaranth by

Total Calories: 469, Fat: 10g (1.4 saturated), Fiber:15g, Protein: 19g

Ingredients: (for 4 bowls)

1 cup of wheat berries (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of brown lentils (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of green lentils (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of red lentils (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of Amaranth
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 bay leaves
1 whole clove
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried sage 
1 vegetable bouillon
2-3 anchovies fillets (oil packed)* for a vegan version just skip the anchovies
2 green onions (for garnish)

Soaking ( at least 12 hours):

Wheat needs to be soaked overnight before you cook it and I actually found that the longer you soak it the better. When it soaks long enough the grains become nice and soft and loose all of the chewiness factor that some people (aka my husband) dislike. While lentils don't really need to soak I decided to soak them anyway as I read it helps with the uncomfortable side effects (gassy ones) some of us experience with legumes. I thought the lentils where particularly tender and there was no bitterness to them so I would recommend soaking them. Do not put them in the same bowl as the wheat though since you will have to add them separately to your recipe.


In a dutch oven or large pot put the oil, the garlic, the onion, the carrot, the celery the bay leaves and the clove and cook for 5-8 minutes until the onion is starting to become translucent and the carrots are starting to soften.

Add the paprika, the tomato paste, the thyme and the sage as well as a generous pinch of salt and keep stirring over medium low fire to let the vegetables absorb the flavor of the spices. 

Add the anchovy fillets and smashed them with the wooden spoon to the bottom of the pot to make sure they kind of melt into your soup base.

Add the drained wheat to the pot and stir well to coat the wheat with the vegetables and the spices. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

soup base for Lucchese Soup with Lentils, Wheat Berries and Amaranth by

Add 4 cups of water and the vegetable bouillon.

Bring the water to a simmer and then add the lentils and the rinsed Amaranth. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

Uncover and taste, let cook a little longer uncovered if too liquid or add more water if too solid. It should not be too soupy however but rather solid.

Garnish with chopped green onion to add a little bit of a fresh crunch (optional).