Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Tonight’s soup was so creamy and smooth, it was simply warming and delicious. Butternut squash can be a bit of a pain to prepare for soup, so my favorite way to do it is by roasting it first. Not only does it make the tough skin slip right off, but the roasting heightens the sweet and nutty flavours of the squash. As a nice added touch, roast the squash seeds and use them as a tasty garnish.
- 1 butternut squash, sliced in half
- 2 medium-sized onions, peeled and diced
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 2” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus a pinch more for seeds
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds using a spoon. Rinse the seeds and remove as much pulp from them as you can then lay them out onto a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over them along with a pinch of sea salt and ground cumin. Cook in oven for 5 minutes (careful not to burn them). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Drizzle olive oil over squash and sweet potato, add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down onto a baking sheet. The sweet potatoes can be laid out onto the same baking sheet.
- Cook sweet potatoes for approx. 20 minutes or until fork tender. Cook squash for approx. 50 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Now that the squash has cooled slightly, remove the peel, roughly cut the squash into large cubes and add into the pot along with the sweet potato.
- Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, making sure the squash is tender.
- Using a handheld blender, puree the soup. Add coconut milk and stir.
- Garnish with roasted squash seeds and serve. Enjoy!
Wake Up Right: Drink Lemon Water
What if you could start every morning with a calm, centered mind and a healthy body that’s ready to embrace the day? Many people shuffle into their kitchens and pour themselves extra-large cups of coffee right after they wake up, but it turns out that lemon water might give you more energy – in addition to other impressive health benefits.
Skip the Ice
While coffee might not offer the most healthful morning beverage solution, you don’t have to sacrifice the warmth you get from a steaming cup of joe. According to a medically reviewed article by Jennifer Anderson, the human body doesn’t always get along well with ice-cold foods and beverages.
You probably don’t like to step out of bed and plant your feet on a frigid floor. Similarly, your stomach doesn’t enjoy the shock it gets when you swallow something cold. Instead of focusing on digestion, the stomach uses energy to maintain your body’s ideal core temperature. If you drink your lemon water warm (or at least lukewarm), you’ll help your digestive system function like a well-oiled machine.
Get Things Moving
Occasional constipation doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious illness, but it can make you uncomfortable and irritable. Fortunately, lemon water helps keep things moving. Whether you’re experiencing a blockage due to emotional or psychological stress or to a physical malady, warm lemon water stimulates your bowels and keeps you nice and regular.
Sometimes constipation occurs psychosomatically. Your body might be telling you to let go of things that are holding you back, whether it’s a toxic relationship or a closet full of material possessions. If you’re suffering from constipation, sip lemon water while you meditate on objects or emotions that you might want to release.
Aid Your Metabolism
Metabolism is as much spiritual and emotional as it is physical. You might feel tempted to boost your mood with high-calorie foods or caffeine-rich beverages, but lemon water stimulates your metabolism naturally. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it’s also rich in antioxidants.
While it battles free radicals, it protects your immune system so your body can fight illness on its own. A stronger immune system insulates you from pesky colds, infections and other bugs that keep you from functioning at your best.
Take Your Vitamins
Vitamins are most effective when they come from your diet. Before you fix a delicious Spanish omelette or blend a juicy smoothie, snag some vitamin C and other vitamins and nutrients from lemon water.
Lemons contain pectin fibre, citric acid, potassium, copper and flavonoids. They’re also a rich source of B-complex vitamins, which means it will help you stay energized all day. From yoga class to your big meeting with the boss, you won’t have to stifle any yawns.
If you wake up in the morning with a mild case of heartburn, the acid in lemon water can actually dispel your discomfort. Stomach issues like heartburn can indicate a spiritual discomfort. Maybe some aspect of your life has fallen out of whack and you’re hoping to nudge things back in line.
While lemon water eases your discomfort, you can focus on getting back in tune with your true self. Listen to your intuition and allow your spirit guides to help you get back into alignment. Maybe it’s time to break a bad habit or to practice more positive self-talk.
Nourish the Skin
If you’ve noticed a few extra wrinkles around your eyes or if your skin has become dry or irritated, lemon water will help you get back that healthy glow. In addition to fighting wrinkles, lemon water also helps rid the body of the free radicals and toxins that contribute to acne.
Youth is very much a state of mind, so don’t rely exclusively on lemon water to come to grips with aging. Fine lines and wrinkles serve as signs of your experience and wisdom, so embrace them. However, lemon water can stop wrinkles from forming prematurely and support your skin’s natural balance.
Encourage Weight Loss
If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, lemon water will help you shed them without fad diets or unhealthy supplements. Although lemons contain lots of acid, they metabolize to alkalinity. An alkaline environment in your digestive system promotes weight loss and suppresses hunger.
Consider drinking your glass of lemon water about half an hour before you eat breakfast. You won’t feel tempted to overindulge because the lemon will have taken the edge off your appetite. The water itself also eases hunger pains because the liquid fills your stomach.
Battle Morning Breath
Lemon water creates a hostile environment for bacteria in your mouth. The initial hit of citric acid in your mouth can tackle the bacteria that causes bad breath, but then the water still keeps everything moist in there so that bacteria won’t come back and make your breath smell rough once again.
This is particularly welcome if you share your bed with a special someone. You’ll remove self-consciousness and feel free to get close emotionally as well as physically, even if you’ve just woken up.
Protect Your Kidneys
If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you might want to add lemon water to your daily regimen. Lemons help dissolve kidney stones as well as other deposits that build up elsewhere in your body, such as in your pancreas and gallbladder. If you can avoid kidney stones and similar issues, you’ll definitely live a healthier, more comfortable life.
Your kidneys are responsible for cleansing your body of toxins as fluids make their way through your digestive system. If you’re holding on to spiritual or emotional toxins, now is the time to let them go. Purify your thoughts as well as your body so negativity doesn’t drag you down.
Remove Joint and Muscle Pain
Yesterday’s workout might leave you stiff and sore today, but lemon water helps. It counteracts uric acid, which means it will remove the discomfort you experience after you push yourself a little too hard at the gym. Not only does this benefit you physically, but it also helps remove any barriers the pain might create next time you work out.
If you’re sore without physical activity, you might consider other causes. For instance, joint pain might manifest if you’re too critical of yourself. Maybe you’re practicing negative self-talk or putting yourself down in front of others. To ease your emotional and physical discomfort, practice treating yourself with compassion and empathy.
Get the Most from Lemon Water
While lemons offer plenty of healthy benefits, you definitely don’t want to drink the juice without diluting it. The straight acid can dissolve the enamel on your teeth and irritate your esophagus. Instead, draw an 8-ounce glass of water. You can drink the water at room temperature or warm it slightly on the stove, depending on how you’re feeling that morning.
Squeeze juice from half a lemon (if you’re under 150 pounds) or a whole lemon and add it to the water. Mix it with a spoon, then sip it while you meditate, read, journal or simply sit in comfortable silence.
Ditch the coffee habit. Lemon water offers far more health benefits, but you’ll still feel great and enjoy tremendous energy. For more guidance on living an intentional and inspired life, take advantage of the expansive video library here on Gaia.