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The season of comfort food is upon us, and with a bounty of pumpkin, cauliflower, cabbage, leek and kumara filling supermarket shelves and vegetable patches, hearty dishes containing these will be as nourishing as they are moreish.
Autumn is the season when many orange fruits and vegetables are in season.
These are rich in beta-carotene, a potent carotenoid, which is converted to vitamin A in the body.
These compounds are associated with helping to protect the eyes, prevent macular degeneration and cataracts and support the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, putting us in good stead for the winter months.
Here are a few recipes using seasonal produce rich in vitamin A, which are sure to hit the spot when it comes to comfort food.
Roasted pumpkin wedges with pinenuts
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
½ pumpkin, cut into wedges
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp sumac
4 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 Tbsp tahini
Heat the oven to 200degC.
Cut the pumpkin into large wedges and remove the seeds and stringy centre. Sprinkle each wedge with olive oil, salt, black pepper and chopped thyme.
Place wedges in a roasting dish and cook for 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness, until tender.
Place pumpkin wedges on a large platter, dollop tahini over and then top with pine nuts and a sprinkle of sumac.
Note: In herbal medicine, thyme is used for respiratory infections and is a natural expectorant that serves as an antiseptic and helps expel mucus. It's also used for soothing coughs and reducing nasal congestion.
Sumac is a widely used essential spice in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It is rich in a variety of nutrients and antioxidant compounds and it may be beneficial for blood sugar control and relief of exercise-induced muscle pain.
Crunchy kumara wedges
Serves 2-4 as a side dish
800g orange kumara
4 Tbsp coconut or olive oil
⅓ cup Tapioca flour
1 tsp salt
Heat the oven to 220degC, fan bake.
Scrub kumara skin to clean then cut into long matchsticks, about 1cm thick.
Place oil, flour and salt into a bowl and add kumara. Toss to coat evenly. Spread on a lined baking tray, evenly spaced apart.
Bake for 15 minutes then turn each using tongs and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until starting to go golden.
Serve with homemade guacamole or as a side with fish and vegetables.
Note: Tapioca flour comes from the root of the cassava plant. It is a gluten-free flour which serves as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies.