Presto Pasta

I am sure I am not the only one who craves more warm starchy comfort foods when the weather starts cooling down a bit and the days are getting shorter and on grey rainy days.

This week I fell in love with pumpkin pasta.

In summer I love making zucchini pasta as a quick easy meal but for colder days it is just not what I crave. So I swapped the zucchini for butternut pumpkin that I cooked quickly in a pan instead. And voila! Absolutely delicious. Done in literally 10 minutes and hitting the spot on all levels.

The combination I love the most right now is pumpkin pasta with oyster mushrooms, smoked garlic, majoran and red spinach.

Apart form being tasty this dish has so much nutritional goodness to offer for the approaching cold and flu season:

Carotenoids or  beta-carotene are precursor to Vitamin A and can be found in all foods that are mainly yellow,orange or red  in colour such as carrots for example. Carotenoids are anti-oxidants that are converted to Vitamin A by our incredible bodies. As we know anti-oxidants are really important but what do carotenoids or Vitamin A do for us? They have been shown to play a specific role in growth and development during pregnancy as they also influence and regulate gene expression. Furthermore,  Vitamin A supports optimal immune function, aids in maintaining good vision as well as red blood cell production and also protects our lungs and skin. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and therefore needs a bit of fat to facilitate conversion and can be stored by our bodies in our liver.

Oyster mushrooms are very popular due to their delicate flavour and bite. Mushrooms are also often called a vegetarian’s or vegan’s meat – they are high in protein and most species can be regarded as good source of iron. Most mushrooms offer additional  health benefits such as cardiovascular health due to their cholesterol lowering effect and immune boosting capability. Some sun dried mushrooms are even able to store Vitamin D and therefore help in preventing that winter blues.

Smoked garlic just like fresh garlic in general contains allicin which is a sulphur compound with potent anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial effects to fight off any infection in this beginning cold & flu season.

Majoran is a common kitchen herb but as so many other humble kitchen herbs it has medicinal properties. Majoran tea is used for symptoms such as runny nose, colds and coughs as well as poor appetite and upset tummies especially in kids.

Red spinach is a very pretty leafy green that boasts with folate (B9), Vitamin C and iron.    It is related to amaranth that you may know as ancient grain and its leaves add a great earthy flavour in your salads or any other dish as warm side salad. To preserve most of its nutritional value it is best not to heat your leafy greens too much why I usually just toss them through right after the end.

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Prep time: 15 min, cooking time: 15 min, easy

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1/2 medium size butternut pumpkin

4 medium to large size oyster mushrooms

2-4 cloves of smoked garlic according to your liking

1/4 bunch majorcan fresh

2 cups of red spinach leaves

celtic sea salt and fresh pepper if you like

ghee or coconut oil to cook

olive oil

lemon juice of 1/2 a lemon freshly pressed ideally

Method:

  1. peel the butternut pumpkin and remove all seeds and cut into spaghetti- like  noodles using a mandolin or a zest peeler
  2. peel cloves of smoked garlic and cut into quarters lengthwise
  3. clean oyster mushrooms with a paper towel or use a soft brush to remove all debris (do not wash your mushrooms!)
  4. wash about quarter of a bunch of your Majoran bunch and press it dry with a kitchen cloth or paper towel
  5. wash and spin dry your red spinach leaves
  6. press 1/2 lemon
  7. warm up 2 frying pans to medium heat and add 1 tsp of ghee or coconut oil in each
  8. add smoked garlic into the pan and fry for 1 minute until gold brown, move to the edge of the pan to keep warm but stop from further frying
  9. add oyster mushrooms  to the pan with the garlic and fry them on both sides for about 1-2 minutes
  10. add pumpkin spaghetti into the second pan and fry for about 2 minutes until the pumpkin is semi-cooked, add 1 cup of water (I prefer filtered) to the pan and reduce heat so the noodles steam cook instead of boil
  11. add the fresh majoran to the pan with the oyster mushrooms and put a little salt on your mushrooms after turning them flipping them
  12. check your pumpkin pasta to be ‘al dente’ and still have some bite to them, pour off any remaining liquid and add salt ( and fresh pepper if you like)
  13. toss the red spinach leaves through your pumpkin noodles and transfer into a bowl or onto your plate
  14. sprinkle to lemon juice on top to increase iron absorption from your greens
  15. top with your mushrooms, fried garlic and majoran and add a splash of olive oil
  16. Enjoy!

Portrait of a friend

Funny how some of us get nervous and insecure as soon as there is a camera pointing towards us. I know I do feel a bit uncomfortable in front of a lens and can sense how my body is becoming tense and all of a sudden I start worrying about what I should do to look “natural” and that just never works.

We are scared of not being pretty enough, beautiful, graceful, how are body & face looks and on and on it goes. I think we are mostly scared of really being seen – being vulnerable and letting our guard down.

 

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This time I got to swap places and was behind the camera. I felt honoured that Marije trusted me to take her pictures even more so as she disclosed that she felt nervous and does not feel comfortable usually in front of a camera either. Just like many of us she was told as a young girl to ‘look pretty’, ‘ smile’, ‘ yeas but no not like that’,  ‘what are you doing with your face’……

We had to work on being comfortable with the uncomfortable as we took the photos along the Coastal Walk in Sydney with hundreds of people walking past us on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

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It was worth it though – in the end after seeing her shots she told me: ‘Oh my god I actually really like them!’

Thank you for your trust and courage and to me you are very beautiful, feminine, strong in your gentleness and most of all brave for doing this in public.

xx

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Marije is a rock you can lean on as friend  and as business woman. A truly inspiring human being who always strives for self development and is constantly working on herself and in her spare time on the weekends making this world a better place. Her passion is to help others  on their own path as coach – get in touch with her on Instagram: @thegrassisgreensydney

Light & Shadow

I love black and white photographs it is almost like they make the time stand still and capture only the essence of something.

Here my beautiful friend Maryanne who is a soul seeker, light worker, artist, former dancer, yoga teacher, philosophy explorer and modern day poet. Head over to her blog https://organicallywealthy.wordpress.com/ or her instagram @organicallywealthy.

 

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What I love doing the most

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Special occasions call for special creations.
It is one of the most rewarding things to see people’s faces lighting up with so much joy when they get to see their cake. 
Check out some of my work on Instagram (@salutarybites) and order your own customised cake via Orchard Street. For enquiries send me an email to rawkitchen@orchardstreet.com.au