Friday, August 29, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Sweet & Bitter Almond, Red Dates and Pumpkin Soup

We love to drink soup, from the simple mixed vegetable soup to herbal soup, any type of soup coz we gotta have soup at dinner time.  Today I am sharing with you a nourishing soup that only requires 4 ingredients which you can grab at any supermarket.  The recipe calls for different amount of sweet & bitter almond but because I bought premixed package so I simply just put 3 tablespoon of it into the soup.


If you are cooking over the stove in a stew pot than you have to boil it for about 4 hours. For me, I made this the night before using my thermal pot.  The next afternoon DinoPapa cook a simple lunch for himself and had it with the soup.

While boiling the ingredients, my nose was being overpowered by the sweetness smell from the red dates, I thought perhaps I had put in too many and the soup will probably turn out to be too sweet.  When I drank it later there were no strong red dates sweetness, instead there is the sweetness from the pumpkin with a little hint of almond, it is quite tasty actually.


Why is it a nourishing soup?
So, what's so nourishing about this soup other than perhaps the pumpkin which aids in bowel movement?

Ingredient 1 - Pumpkin
Well, don't underestimate this low calorie vegetable (100g provides only 26 calories) that is rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins.  It is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.  It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Pumpkins' orange color is a big hint that they're loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is one of the plant carotenoids converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy, glowing skin, strong eyesight, and our immune system.

Don't forget the pumpkin seeds too!  They are high in protein and plant based fatty acids, which help regulate cholesterol levels, protect against arthritis, promote healthy skin, and improve brain function.

How to roast pumpkin seeds
1. Remove the pumpkin seed and get rid of the guts and
2. Run cold water on the seeds
3. Soak the seeds in salt water (optional). The salt water deactivates enzyme inhibitors in the seeds which can irritate your stomach, and removing them allows the production of more vitamins in the seeds.
4. Drain the seeds in a colander and dry them with kitchen towel.
5. Spread the seeds on a baking tray, make sure there is only one layer of seeds. Drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil for about 3/4 cup of seeds and a pinch of salt or two.
6. Preheat your oven to 200Deg and roast your pumpkin seeds for about 10mins, stir it and bake for another 8 - 10 mins.  Roasting time also depends on your oven temperature.
7. To check if your pumpkin seeds are ready, cool a couple and taste it. Their shell should be crispy and easy to bite through, the inner seed should have only a hint of golden tinge to it and should not be brown.

Ingredient 2 - Red Dates
For the mummies, remember the time when you were told to drink ONLY red dates & logan tea during your confinement? Well, there is a reason to that, dried logan is considered to be "heaty" but it is said to invigorate the heart and spleen, nourish the blood and have a calming effect on the nervous system.  Combine it with the superfood; red dates, it improves the overall health.

Why is red dates known as superfood?  Besides being higher in Vitamin C then most citrus fruits, red dates also contain loads of Vitamin A, B1, B2, protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.  Also, red dates help to stimulate the production of white blood cells which improves immunity and protects the liver, it can strengthen the spleen and stomach Qi (energy) and are even believed to suppress cancer cells too.

Having said that, do remember that all food should be taken in moderation, red dates inclusive too.  Excessive intake of red dates will cause constipation and bloatedness.

Ingredient 3 & 4 - Sweet 南杏仁 & Bitter 北杏仁 Almond
The Sweet & Bitter almond helps to relieve heatiness, soothes coughs and improves appetite, it also helps in prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Sweet almond is high in protein, Vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids.  For people with lung disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, consuming the sweet almond will be beneficial to their health.

With so much goodness in the pot of soup, this is a MUST HAVE recipe in my collection.

Sweet & Bitter Almond with Pumpkin Soup

by Jennifer Lim
Prep Time: 15mins
Cook Time: 4hrs

Ingredients
* 2 tbsp Sweet Almond
* 1 tbsp Bitter Almond
* 15 Red Dates
* 400g Pumpkin
* some sea salt (optional)

Instructions
1. Put all the ingredient except for the sea salt into a stew pot with 2.5 liters of water.
2. Cover and cook over the stove for 4 hours.
3. Stir in sea salt to taste (optional). Serve while hot.

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