Pumpkin Bread Recipe

In addition to being healthy, pumpkin also contains another healthy ingredient, that is pepitas, or pumpkin seeds. Pepitas are very rich in minerals such as zinc, magnesium and iron. They are also high in protein content, about 20%. Unfortunately, like many other nuts and seeds, pepitas contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid, or phytate, that can make all the previously discussed important nutrients less bioavailable when you consume them. These anti-nutrients bind to minerals, especially zinc and iron, and the minerals cannot be absorbed.

I found a study that was specifically designed to research this factor in pumpkin seeds. It concluded, ‘The subsequent digestion under intestinal conditions showed that Zn becomes less accessible, indicating that antinutrients like naturally present phytate may be responsible for complex formation in the small intestines, thus reducing the potential for Zn bioavailability.’ (Food Chemistry, Volume 128, Issue 4, 15 October 2011, Pages 839-846)

So, if you plan on consuming seeds or nuts on a regular basis, it would be wise to soak or sprout them, that is what doctors advise. Unfortunately, ‘the soaking of whole seeds for 24 h can lead to leaching of iron and, to a lesser extent, of zinc ions into the soaking medium.’ The same applies to all legumes and grains. The good news, it was also proved that fermentation can completely hydrolyze the phytic acid. (Food Chemistry, Volume 138, Issue 1, 1 May 2013, Pages 430-436) And by the way, the heating also causes phytic acid reduction.

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Pumpkin Bread

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Pumpkin Soup Recipe

The pumpkin is a large fruit that is so versatile that it can be used in many sweet and savoury dishes. Pumpkin is packed with vitamins and minerals. Of note, it is very high in vitamin A and C, potassium and the minerals copper and phosphorous. Pumpkin is also very low in calories.

NPK fertilizer is often used to grow pumpkin. NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. One study from 2012 evaluated the influence of NPK fertilizer on protein, fibre, fat and carbohydrates, which collectively are called proximate content. The main focus of the study was to assess the effect of NPK fertiliser on antioxidant activities and antioxidant phenolic compounds in immature and mature fruits of pumpkin. It was found that ‘Between the control and the highest fertilizer rate, proximate compositions decreased by 7–62% while the antioxidant profile decreased by 13–79% for both immature and mature fruits. Across all the measured parameters, mature fruit had higher proximate contents and higher antioxidant concentrations.’ (Food Chemistry, Volume 135, Issue 2, 15 November 2012, Pages 460-463)  It seems like buying very ripe pumpkin is a good idea. The conclusion made was ‘ For the high health value of pumpkin fruits to be maintained, little or no NPK fertilizer should be applied.’ Unfortunately, considering NPK can be organic fertilizer, how do we know how much of it was used in the pumpkin we buy?

Here it is my version of pumpkin soup that can convert anyone into becoming a pumpkin soup lover.

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Pumpkin Soup

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Avocado Breakfast Recipe

Avocados

Avocado is an amazing fruit. It’s been very popular amongst healthy eaters for years now. No wonder why we have this sudden wave of avocado popularity. Any cafe you come in for a breakfast will have an avocado dish, I could say it is basic now.

Avocados are very healthy. Mostly for two important things: antioxidants and phytosterols. Phytosterols are plant cholesterols, they compete with cholesterol and get absorbed in our body. So, eating more avocados will protect your heart and brain.

If you wonder why the avocados are sometimes stone-hard on the shelfs of the retail shops, the following could be an answer for you. There is an effect of harvest date on the nutritional compounds and antioxidant activity in avocado. You can ripen avocados at +25C for the best effect of the fruit’s health benefits. Antioxidant activity in avocados harvested earlier then stored at cold temperatures was much higher than in the later harvested fruit according to this research. It was concluded, ‘Therefore, avocado can be harvested earlier for economic benefits according to the market and can keep high nutritional value for human health benefits.’ (Food Chemistry, Volume 135, Issue 2, 15 November 2012, Pages 694-698)

According to another scientific research, avocado oil is richer than olive oil in total phytosterols, although olive oil has higher in vitamin E and retains it for longer during the heating (180 °C). (Food Chemistry, Volume 132, Issue 1, 1 May 2012, Pages 439-446)

Another interesting fact, ‘For all varieties, seeds contained the highest antioxidant capacities, phenolic content, and procyanidins, whereas the pulp had the lowest.’ (Food Chemistry, Volume 122, Issue 4, 15 October 2010, Pages 1193-1198)

I am very curious now, about the avocado seeds 🙂

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Avocado Breakfast

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Blueberry Muffins Recipe

Blueberries

In Australia, Blueberries are my favourite berries. Every year I organise Blueberry picking trip to one of the local organic blueberry farms.

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Magic Tablecloth. My daughter and a friend are picking blueberries in December 2015.

The blueberries can be stored fresh very well at low temperatures for up to 1 month. They don’t just stay fresh but they also retain all their qualities that provide health benefits. There is research just on that, and ‘The results suggested that sufficient available energy status and a stable enzymatic system in blueberries collectively contribute to improve chilling tolerance, thereby alleviating pitting and maintaining quality of blueberry fruit in long-term cold storage.’ (Food Chemistry, Volume 164, 1 December 2014, Pages 493-501). 

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Dried Nectarines Recipe

Nectarines

Nectarines, plums and peaches are in abundance this month. If you have a nectarine tree, for example, and you harvested buckets of nectarines, try to dry them. Then use dried nectarines throughout the year to add something unique to your recipes.

Add nectarines to your tagine while making goat or lamb along with the other spices and fruits from your recipe. If you are making veal in a creamy sauce you can try adding the dried nectarine instead of mushrooms. You can also soak the dried nectarines in boiling water to make a flavoured water, let it cool down and refrigerate before drinking. Finally, another option is to add a few pieces to your herbal tea when making a gourmet tea in a pot.

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Dried Nectarines

Ingredients:

Nectarines (not very ripe)
*Optional: apple cider vinegar
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Apricot Paste Recipe

Beautiful apricots are now ripe and sweet across Australia. This simple delicious addition to your cheese board is full of Christmas spirit. This paste is prepared with raw apricots and takes only 10 minutes.

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Apricot Paste

Ingredients:

500g apricots, ripe and sweet
1/8 cup semisweet or sweet white wine
1g agar (European, fine quality)
* Fine mesh sifter drum, silicone spatula, 170ml wide jar.
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Mango Pudding Recipe

We love Australian mangoes. During the peak of the mango season, we can buy them in boxes and at a very affordable price. Then it is time to create!

This recipe is so simple and so yummy! And I think it is a perfect guilt free dessert for a summer especially during the festive season, when we are to have lots of treats. This is because it is sugar and dairy free. Enjoy.

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Mango Pudding

Ingredients:

2 large mangoes (very ripe)
250ml light coconut cream
7g agar
120ml water
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