Thyme roasted pumpkin, pan-fried shallots and sweet potato leaf salad with a mustard and red wine vinegar dressing

imageIt can be challenging to find nourishing food that meets your body’s needs when you are out and about, working or studying. In our often rushed daily lives, having a nourishing lunch is often last on our priority lists. Packing your own lunch can help by providing a ready-prepared meal with ingredients of your choice, to provide your body with healthy fuel to keep going. Taking the time to sit and enjoy a meal is no longer considered important in today’s society, however it is so important for ourdigestion, health and relationships.

This salad is a simple recipe that can be packed the night before, and can be adapted to include leftovers or whatever is in your fridge. It is designed to go in  your lunch bag as an accompaniment to things like sustainable tuna or salmon, nitrate-free ham, leftover roast chicken, boiled eggs, avocado, olives and home-made mayonnaise. You can also use leftover roasted vegetables in the salad. A nice finishing touch to this lunch, if you prefer not to have grain-based foods, is a hot nutritious drink such as my warm banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk with cinnamon and vanilla recipe.

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Sweet potato leaves are a relatively undiscovered gem. They are packed with nutrients and beneficial compounds, and can be used in both salads and cooked dishes. In a salad, I prefer to have them mixed with other greens, such as rocket, mizuna, and light coral and butter lettuces. They are beautiful cooked, and go well in a frittata, and also in a coconut-milk based chicken curry with pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric and kaffir lime leaves. Sweet potato leaves have been found to contain a higher amount of iron than spinach and kale, around 4mg per cup of raw leaves, which is around 1/2 of an adult male daily requirement, and 1/4 of a female’s daily requirement (1, 2). They do have a significant level of oxalates though, which can interfere with nutrient absorption and increase the risk of kidney stones. These can be reduced significantly by blanching in water before adding them to your dish.

We are lucky here to be able to get fresh sweet potato leaves from our local markets – they can be found seasonally at both the Gold Coast Organic Farmers Market and the Mullumbimby Farmers markets. I am always very grateful when Tanya from Summit Organics brings her beautiful sweet potato leaves along to the Gold Coast markets! You can try them in this recipe, which is fresh, light and nourishing – enjoy!

Recipe

Serves 1

2 big handfuls of sweet potato leaves, washed (you can include them raw, or blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes first, before adding them to your salad)

1 -2 cup of mixed green salad leaves

1/4/-1/2 cup of pumpkin, chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

2 handfuls of shallots

2-3 tsp organic ghee, or sunflower oil

Dressing – 1 tbsp flaxseed oil, 1 tsp organic wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp red wine vinegar

1. Rub some ghee or sunflower oil over the pumpkin pieces, and roast in a small baking dish for around 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius.

2. Heat the remaining ghee or sunflower oil in a small pan, and pan-fry the chopped shallots for a few minutes, until they are soft.

3. Mix dressing ingredients together in a small jar.

4. Place your sweet potato leaves and mixed grains in a transportable lunch container, and place the shallots and pumpkin decoratively on top once they are ready. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper And chopped chives on top if desired.

5. Pack in your lunch bag, along with the dressing and some sustainable tuna or salmon, or nitrate-free ham, or boiled eggs, plus some olives and/or avocado, and/or mayonnaise.

6. Take a break from work or study around the middle of the day, and take the time to enjoy your kindly prepared lunch!

References:

1. Antici B.S., Akpan E.J. Okon P.A. & Umoren I.U. (2006) ‘Nutritive and anti-nutritive evaluation of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) leaves’, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 5(2), pp.166-168.

2. Oduro I., Ellis W.O. & Owuso D. (2008) ‘Nutritional potential of two leafy vegetables: Moringa oleifera and Ipomoea batatas leaves’, Scientific Research & Essay, 3(2), pp.57-60.

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