If pumpkin is not in season, butternut squash might be and makes a good alternative with a great taste and a similar nutritional profile.
Ingredients for Two Hungry People
- A small pumpkin or half a medium sized one with the seeds removed (any remainder can be kept in the fridge and used for a healthy soup within a couple of days).
- A fillet of wild salmon, breast of organic chicken or portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian option.
Wild salmon is far superior to the farmed version. As for chicken, I’d recommend only ever using free range, organic chicken. The regular chicken on the supermarket shelves is usually pumped full of hormones, can have an inflammatory fat profile and the chickens have often been raised in terrible conditions. Read this article on chicken welfare for more details.
Even someone who didn’t care about the atrocious living conditions their chicken was raised in, should be concerned about the extremely common instances of disease in broiler chickens. Disease ridden meat is not a healthy food. Chicken is one of those ingredients it’s really worth paying the extra for free range and organic if you value your health. It tastes much better too.
- Mixed organic salad leaves, washed.
I like rocket, spinach and watercress for this warm pumpkin salad recipe. These green superfoods have a great flavor and are very healthy, but unfortunately are also usually grown with a significant pesticide load. You can wash them with veggie wash or lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda in warm water, but personally I’d rather spend a little more on organic here.
- Around a quarter of a cup of raw pumpkin seeds. Crushed or chopped brazil nuts are good replacement if you don’t have them and pine nuts or cashews would also work, but pumpkin seeds are healthier.
- A cup of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves.
- A tablespoon of organic extra virgin coconut oil.
The medium chain fatty acids in coconut and its stable structure make coconut oil one of the most healthy oils you can cook with. This is one type of fat you definitely want in your diet. Unlike most common vegetable oils, such as sunflower, corn and soybean oil, that can have an inflammatory effect on your body, coconut oil, along with avocado oil for high temperature cooking, are the healthiest cooking oils to have in your kitchen.
- Crushed garlic, cracked pepper and Himalayan crystal salt to taste.
Himalayan pink crystal salt, with its varied mineral content and ancient unpolluted origins, is, in my opinion, the best true salt available. Standard sodium chloride with questionable processing and stripped of other minerals shouldn’t be considered real salt.
How to Make Warm Pumpkin Salad
First cut up into strips and steam your pumpkin, as detailed in the page on cooking pumpkins for maximum nutrition.
While it’s cooking, dice up your chicken or mushrooms so they’ll cook relatively quickly. Salmon fillets are probably best flaked after the lightest of fryings.
Heat the coconut oil on medium heat in a frying pan and gently cook your organic chicken or mushrooms in the coconut oil.
For the chicken, turn it regularly and make sure it is cooked thoroughly (check a larger piece), but don’t overcook it or it will become tough. Using a lid on the frying pan in between stirrings helps retain moisture and the chicken will cook faster on a lower heat.
Salmon needs little cooking and I preferred to fry a thin fillet lightly in coconut oil with the lid on for just a short period on both sides. Once done, the salmon can then be flaked off over the salad in bite-sized portions.
While the chicken/mushrooms/salmon is cooking, transfer the rinsed salad leaves and cherry tomatoes into a serving bowl.
Now slightly cooled, it should be a little easier to remove the skin from the pumpkin strips on your chopping board. Scoop them out and gently chop the steamed strips into your desired size (around an inch in length works for me).
When the chicken, mushrooms or salmon looks just about done, add the pumpkin seeds, crushed garlic, crystal salt and cracked pepper and stir in briefly on a low heat. To keep as many nutrients as possible in the garlic and pumpkin seeds you really only wanted warm them up rather than fry them until brown.
Once the chicken and pumpkin seed mixture is ready, spoon it out and onto the salad leaves. Gently toss and cover the serving bowl with a plate to retain the heat.
For our final step that really brings out the flavor in the steamed pumpkin, add a little more coconut oil if needed and transfer the chopped pumpkin strips to the same frying pan used for the chicken/salmon/mushrooms.
Lightly fry on a low heat for just around a minute, gently turning occasionally to infuse more of the garlic, coconut flavor into it. Once they are done, spoon the pumpkin into the serving bowl and carefully toss again to mix it in with the other ingredients.
Serve immediately. I hope you enjoy it.
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