Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Quinoa Curry

by Maia Bedson

Autumn 2016, Living Well Magazine

Autumn is the time of year when the earth’s cycle means the days gradually become shorter and the night’s longer. And by adjusting our lifestyle to the season – eating more warming foods, taking more time to rest, shifting our attention from a predominantly outward focus, into more self-reflection, amongst other measures, we are living in harmony with, rather than against, nature.

There is still so much beauty to behold, as evoked in Cornelia L Tuthill’s quote, and although there may be some regret in the southern states for the fare-welling of warm outdoorsy nights and adjusting to the crispness of the evening air, nature is providing us with a new crop of ingredients with which to create nourishing meals to feed our hearts, minds and tummies.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, where the rhythm of the seasons is intimately connected with our physical and emotional wellbeing, autumn is the time of year where the energies of our lungs and large intestine are at the forefront. Our large intestine is associated with releasing the past or what is old, and our lungs are associated with taking in the new. They compliment each other perfectly!

So I have created the following recipe with the intention of using ingredients that nurture these organs particularly.

Sweet potatoes are full of numerous antioxidants, particularly carotenoids (which gives them their orange hue) helping to strengthen our lungs and protecting our cells from oxidative damage; and beta-carotene from which our bodies make vitamin A. They are anti-inflammatory, detoxifying – as they have the ability to bind heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury for elimination as well as being a high source of dietary fibre; and are known to have blood sugar-regulating properties.

Also, the high vitamin C content helps our lungs effectively transport oxygen through the body.

In case you didn’t know, sweet potatoes (Convolvulaceae family) are botanically very different to the common white potato (Solanaceae family).

Quinoa has been nominated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations as a food of high nutritive value.

It is a grain-like seed with a history going back thousands of years, particularly in Central and South America and is part of the same food family as spinach, beetroot and silverbeet.

It contains many antioxidants, especially flavonoids that help immune function. Included in the impressive list of phytonutrients of quinoa are numerous different anti-inflammatory compounds. It is also one of the few plant foods with a complete amino acid profile and has high levels of calcium, iron and phosphorus. And it’s high fibre content keeps things moving!

Chickpeas – did you know that the 68th United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses? (It might come up at a trivia night soon). Chickpeas are one of the six main pulse groups, one of the most versatile and a concentrated source of protein.

They are full of dietary fibre – the kind that helps blood fat regulation. With around 70% of that fibre being insoluble, they are wonderful for elimination; and the remaining 30% is soluble and very beneficial for healthy gut bacteria (also known as a prebiotic).

Garlic is an all round health promoter – the allicin it contains reduces inflammation, fights infection and assists in keeping our lungs clearer.

Turmeric and Ginger are beneficial in so many ways – again being very strong anti-inflammatory agents and the curcumin content can lead to the elimination of cancer cells.

“The bright summer had passed away, and gorgeous autumn was flinging its rainbow tints of beauty on hill and dale.” – Cornelia L. Tuthill 1840

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Quinoa Curry

 Serves 4. gf, v, vg

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato – gold variety (also known as Beauregard) scrubbed and chopped into 2 cm square pieces
1 cup dried chickpeas (or 2 cans of organic chickpeas)
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 piece of fresh turmeric (little finger-size) grated or 3 tsp. powdered
3 cm square piece of fresh ginger grated or 2 tsp. powdered
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dried chilli flakes
140 gm tomato paste – no added salt or oil
1 punnet cherry tomatoes (or 1 can organic chopped tomatoes)
1/2- 1 bunch spinach or de-stemmed kale, torn into pieces
1-1/2 cups almond milk or 1 can organic coconut milk
1 pinch salt (preferably Murray River pink salt)
Pepper to taste

Method

Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of clean water, then drain and rinse – removing and discarding any discoloured or broken pieces.

Place the chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh water. Bring to the boil then simmer until tender. [NB. Although freshly cooked chickpeas are more nutritious, a faster alternative would be to drain and rinse two cans of organic chickpeas]

Place the quinoa into a colander and rinse thoroughly under running water, rubbing the seeds with your hands to remove any bitter residue.

Place the quinoa into a saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand with the lid on for 10 minutes.

Into a large pan, heat ½ cup of water, then add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, chilli flakes and stir to combine well.

Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper – and a little more water to mix everything easily together.

Simmer then add 1 cup of hot water plus the cherry tomatoes (these can be blanched first to remove the skins if preferred) or tinned tomatoes. Mix well.

Keep the temperature to a simmer and add the sweet potato.

Once the sweet potato is soft but not mushy, add the quinoa, chickpeas, spinach (or kale); and plant milk. Stir well.

Turn off the heat and keep the lid on to wilt the greens and warm the quinoa and chickpeas.

Maia Bedson

Therapist, Facilitator, The Gawler Cancer Foundation & Yarra Valley Living Centre

DipHol Couns, Grad DipCounsHS, Grad DipClinNut

Maia is a counsellor, meditation instructor, a practitioner of various forms of natural therapies who has worked in the area of energetic healing for over 20 years and has worked at The Gawler Cancer Foundation since 2000. She has a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Nutrition as well as formal qualifications in plant-based nutrition, counselling and psychotherapy. Maia uses her various skills and the experience gained from her own healing to inspire and support others on their path to wholeness and has a particular interest in helping people to access their own inner wisdom.