Winter – A Time for the Heart

Winter – A Time for the Heart

by Maia Bedson

Winter 2017, Living Well Magazine

…Winter is upon us, and our home fire is burning.

Winter is the season to slow down, enjoy simple pleasures and count our blessings… ‘a time of the heart’ as Michael Leunig so eloquently explains.

“We give thanks for the blessing of winter
Season to cherish the heart
To cook for the heart and read for the heart
To spend time with the heart
We give thanks for the blessing of winter”
– Michael Leunig 

One of my simple pleasures is growing vegetables and at this time of year, golden orange pumpkins remind me of the colour and warmth of the sun.  Being such a warming, nourishing food, I wanted to create a recipe where pumpkin is the main event.

Pumpkins (commonly called winter squash in the USA) are extremely rich in carotenoids – one of the most important groups of antioxidants. Most people are familiar with beta-carotene and this is usually the only carotenoid that is used in supplements, however there are over 50 different carotenoids – and taking supplements containing beta-carotene can lead to nutritional imbalances. Another example of how wholefoods includes individual nutrients with their synergistic helpers.

Some recent diet trends have people avoiding pumpkin due to the starch it contains. However, nutrition research shows us that the complex starches in pumpkin actually have anti-inflammatory and insulin-regulating properties.

In addition, pumpkins are also a very good source of vitamin C, dietary fibre, vitamin B6, manganese and copper as well as a good source of potassium, vitamin B2, folate, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and niacin.

Black rice contains the highest amount of nutrients of all the different rice varieties and is a good source of protein and iron. It has been known as ‘forbidden rice’ for centuries because in ancient times, it was reserved for royalty and commoners were banned from growing or consuming it!

As colour is important when it comes to our food (i.e. eating from the rainbow plus black and white) I wanted to create a dish where almost all the colours are included in the one meal. I have listed the quantity of ingredients for two people, and you can increase them proportionally for more people.

Baked Pumpkin with Black Rice


  • 1/2 cup of uncooked Black Rice
  • Approx. 800 gm. Pumpkin – any variety, although Kent works very well
  • 1 Leek, finely sliced
  • 1 large (or 2 smaller) Portobello Mushroom , sliced
  • 2 large handfuls of leafy greens such as Kale, Spinach, Silverbeet, sliced
  • A few Dried Tomatoes, finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chilli Flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger, grated
  • 1/2 Lemon, juice and zest
  • Thyme to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 180 deg C
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper
  • Wash and dry the pumpkin, then cut into approx. 400gm wedges (with skin on) and remove seeds.
  • Place pumpkin on the baking tray then transfer to oven to bake for 50-60 mins, or until a sharp knife can be inserted easily


  • Rinse and drain the rice. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then simmer gently until tender – approx. 30 minutes – checking regularly if more water is needed
  • Drain rice and leave in saucepan with lid on
  • When the pumpkin has 10 minutes cooking time left, heat a small amount of water in a frying pan and sauté the crushed garlic and chili flakes for a few minutes. Include the sliced dried tomatoes (if using)
  • Add the finely sliced leek and sauté for around 3 minutes
  • Add the sliced mushroom and sauté for 3 minutes
  • Add the greens and sauté until wilted
  • Add the grated ginger and cooked black rice and stir through, then remove from heat
  • Arrange the pumpkin on dinner plates or a serving platter and spoon over the vegetable and rice mixture
  • Drizzle with lemon juice and zest and garnish with thyme leaves
  • Enjoy like a Royal!

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.