Seven days in and I’m still easing into 2015, slowly but surely. For the past few years this time of year has been a time of reflection and transition for me. Perhaps it’s because the holidays are busy, spent seeing friends and family, and the reality of a new year doesn’t kick in until we get back to Milan, and in my mind the new year doesn’t officially start until I’ve gone back to work, which means January 12th this year. Still a few more days of limbo, to recover from the jetlag, my nasty cold and get organized to conquer 2015 with optimism and a fresh set of goals.
This year in particular feels like a new beginning. You see, I finally registered for the Natural Nutrition program at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, after several months of deliberation. As excited as I am to be starting this course and fulfilling my new found passion, the reality of going back to school and starting a new career at this stage in my life are a bit scary.
I’ve spent the past day and a half since our return huddled on the couch under blankets, drinking my healing elixir, starring at my jenga of nutrition books and mired in thought about how I’m going to make it all happen. When I’m not keeping myself busy, I have a tendency to think too much and consequently worry about things that could potentially happen, or not. So rather than get sucked into that vortex, I decided to make a list of attainable resolutions for the year ahead and start 2015 on a positive note.
First and foremost, I’d like to start and complete 12 out of the 18 courses for my nutrition program. While I have 2 years to complete the program and an additional 2 months to prepare for the exam, I’ve decided to fast track it and I’m aiming to finish the course work within 18 months, giving myself 1 month per course. It’s a bit aggressive, considering I work 25 hours a week and would also really like to spend time growing my blog, but it’s totally possible. After all, I’ve always been more productive when I’ve had more on my plate.
Secondly, I’d like to spend more time manifesting positive change. I’m a huge believer in the power of manifesting change through positive thought and energy, yet I spend very little time doing this. In 2015, I vow to do this more often. Whether it be for a few moments in bed, on the metro, or on a short break from work/studying/cooking/blogging, I vow to spend a few minutes a day thinking about my hopes and dreams for the future, and envisioning them coming to life. Maybe I’ll go as far as keeping a journal, we’ll see, I did say attainable.
Other totally attainable goals include scheduling tech free time, drinking more water daily, exercising more, growing my blog, celebrating small accomplishments, networking and making contacts in the health and nutrition scene, and remembering to have fun doing it all. Wish me luck!
Now, on to the important stuff, food.
I made, wrote and shot this recipe before the holidays, intending to get it up as part of a holiday menu post, but things got busy and I never got around to it. Better late than never, and the new year is a perfect time for a warming and flavorful soup that’s highly nutritious and light on fat and calories, just what the body needs after the indulgent holiday season.
Chestnuts pair beautifully with butternut squash to produce a creamy, flavorful soup that is full of body and aroma. It’s a great make ahead soup that also freezes well.
Butternut squash is a great source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and eye sight. Much like carrots, it’s rich in B carotene phyto-nutrients which convert to vitamin A in the body. It’s also a good source of dietary fiber, and B complex vitamins. It’s naturally low in calories but it’s bursting with flavour and a great solution for a light meal.
Chestnuts are big on many vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, folates and other B complex vitamins, iron, protein, and dietary fiber to name a few, while being low in fat and high in flavour.
Roasted Butternut Squash & Chestnut Soup
Recipe & Photography by Nissrine @ Harmony à la Carte.
Chestnuts pair beautifully with butternut squash to produce a creamy, flavorful soup that is full of body and aroma and loaded with nutrients.
- 1 Medium Butternut Squash (1.164 kg/ 2.556 lbs)
- 1 C Roasted Chestnuts, (125g), shelled and coarsely chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, diced and sauteed in extra virgin olive oil (use water for oil free)
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Black pepper to taste
- 4-6 C Filtered Water
* I started with 25 Chestnuts in shells (337g), saved about 6 for munching on, as I can’t resist fresh roasted chestnuts straight out of the shell, and I lost a couple that were dried out or black inside. The remainder amounted to about 1 cup roasted, shelled and chopped chestnuts.
- Preheat oven to 200 C
- Thoroughly clean the butternut squash and scrub the skin with water, this way you don’t have to worry about removing all the rind later.
- Slice butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Lightly brush with extra virgin olive oil and place in a parchment paper lined baking dish or tray, cut side down and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes until the skin is golden and caramelized
- Remove from oven and set aside to let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 180 C
- In the meantime, make an incision in the chestnuts, place in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30-35 minutes.
- Remove chestnuts from the oven, let cool ever so slightly, just enough so you can handle them, and peel while they’re still hot.
- Roughly chop the chestnuts and set aside.
- Sautee diced onions in extra virgin olive oil with a small pinch of salt until softened. To make oil free, steam sautee the onions in water.
- At this point you can remove the skin off the butternut squash. I usually only remove the charred or tough skin and leave some skin on as it is nutrient rich.
- Add roasted squash pulp, roasted shelled and chopped chestnuts, sauteed onions and 4 cups of water to a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and using a hand blender, puree to a smooth and velvety consistency, add water until you reach your desired consistency. This will depend on how thick or thin you like your soup to be. If you don’t have a hand blender you can put all the ingredients in a regular high speed blender and puree them that way, then pour the soup back into the pot.
- Season to your liking with sea salt, ground nutmeg and ground black pepper and let boil gently for 2-3 minutes while stirring frequently.
- Serve hot.