This week’s nutrition for fertility recipe is a nourishing, warming, bowl of Butternut squash soup and a side of creamy, delicious twice-baked sweet potatoes. With the fall harvest in full swing and our lives in constant motion as the holidays draw near, these recipes are the perfect way to slow down and bring some balance into our lives. The key ingredient of both dishes are the pumpkin seeds, as they are known in Chinese Medicine to especially benefit the kidney and improve the reproductive system in both men and women.
Pumpkin seeds are a plentiful source of nutrients, they are rich in amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, carotenoids, and phosphorus. Pumpkin seeds are an exceptional source of zinc, which aids in hormonal balance and plays an important role in the proper development of ova. Since zinc is required in the synthesis of male androgen, its content in the prostate is much higher than in other body organs, therefore helping to prevent prostate problems. In women, zinc aids in the prevention of chromosomal defects, and recurrent miscarriage. Pumpkin seeds can also promote lactation in women who have less milk production due to postpartum weakness. In addition, they benefit pregnant women by preventing and treating hand and foot swelling during pregnancy, preventing the occurrence of diseases, slowing down aging, and promoting quality sleep.
Both sweet potatoes and butternut squash are an abundant source of nutrients and vitamins such as, Vitamin A which helps to improve cervical fluid and follicle development, Vitamin B which helps regulate hormone production and Vitamin C which helps to build the immune system. Sweet potatoes contain antioxidants which help prevent inflammation within the body and can help alleviate symptoms of PCOS and endometriosis. Potassium in sweet potatoes help balance the nervous system and elevate mood which can be beneficial during times of stress. Butternut squash contains beta-carotene which helps boost the production of progesterone and regulate the menstrual cycle, and for men it can help increase sperm count and quality.
Below are a few wonderfully simple recipes to play with:
TWICE BAKED SWEET POTATOES
List of Ingredients
- 6 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/3 cup scallions or green onions, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3/4 cup almond milk cream cheese style spread (Kite Hill)
- 2-3 tablespoons hot, unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, extra for greasing and cooking
- fine salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- parsley, for garnish
- sumac, for garnish
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin seed dukkah (recipe below)
Pumpkin seed dukkah Blend:
- 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (1/2 tablespoon is using dry)
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- Pumpkin Seeds Dukkah: heat a heavy skillet over high heat to toast pumpkin seeds until they are slightly browned and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Repeat with coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds; remove from pan.
- Toast sesame seeds, then peppercorns.
- All ow spices to cool, add the peppercorns to a mortar and pestle, and crush. Add seeds, sumac, salt, and thyme, and grind until mix is crushed. (Spice blend can be stored at room temp in an airtight container)
- Set cream cheese style spread out to reach room temperature, preheat oven to 350° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
- Brush potato skins with olive oil and salt and set on baking sheet, bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool about 30 minutes.
- Cook onions and garlic while potatoes are cooling. Heat a skillet over medium heat; add enough olive oil to coat bottom of pan, and sauté the scallions/onions until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Once potatoes have cooled, cut them in half and carefully scoop cooked potato into a bowl, reserve the skins and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, mash potatoes, cream cheese, 2 tablespoons almond milk, scallions, garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. (Add more almond milk according to preference, 2 tablespoons will usually achieve a creamy consistency).
- Using a spoon, carefully fill skins with potato mixture. Sprinkle tops with the pumpkin seed dukkah blend and place back in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Serve hot, with fresh parsley and extra sumac.
CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
- List of Ingredients
- 1 Tbsp grape seed oil
- 2 shallots, thinly diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small butternut squash
- Sea salt + black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbsp (12 g) curry powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup
- optional: 1-2 tsp chili garlic paste
- Serve with toasted pumpkin seed blend (from above)
- Heat a large pot over medium heat.
- Once hot, add grape seed oil, shallots, garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add butternut squash and season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, curry powder, and ground cinnamon.
- Stir to coat, then cover and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add coconut milk, vegetable broth, maple syrup, and (optional – chili garlic paste).
- Bring to a low boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until butternut squash is fork tender.
- Transfer soup to a blender, and purée on high until creamy and smooth then return soup back to pot.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, adding spices as needed and continue cooking for a few more minutes over medium heat.
- Serve with toasted pumpkin seed blend atop