Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is quite simple to make–just add everything to the pot and boil away! It’s autumn-time so I’ve been featuring recipes with the “fruits of the season”.

Ingredients

6 cups water
1 (13–14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (5–6 cups)
¼ cup steel-cut oats
3 cups finely chopped kale leaves
3 vegetable bouillon cubes (or to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon black pepper

Add water and coconut milk to a medium–large-size pot. Begin to cook on medium heat. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium–high. Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until butternut squash becomes tender and soup thickens. Serve warm or hot. Serves 6–8.

Health Benefits of Coconut Milk

Coconuts and coconut milk have traditionally gotten a bad rap due to its high saturated fat levels. However, island populations around the world have used the fruit’s meat juice, milk and oil in everything from cooking to disease prevention. Furthermore, the unique fatty acids in coconut milk may aid weight loss, improve immune function, reduce heart disease risk and improve skin and hair health.

Weight Loss

New research has revealed that not eating enough fat can actually make you fat. According to Bruce Fife, N.D. in his article “The Fat that Can Make You Thin,” people who include more healthy fats in their diet, such as the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut milk, eat less than those who don’t get enough fat. While all fats help the body feel full and satiate the brain receptors that control appetite, the fat in coconut milk may increase metabolism and perhaps increase weight loss on a reduced-calorie diet.

Immune System Health

Coconut milk contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which may fight the viruses and bacteria that cause herpes, influenza and even HIV. According to a study led by Dr. Gilda Sapphire Erguiza, a pediatric pulmonologist at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, children with pneumonia who were treated with antibiotics and coconut oil benefited more than those taking the antibiotic alone.

Heart Disease

The medium-chain saturated fatty acids in coconut milk may also improve heart health. A study in “Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed that Filipino women who ate more coconut oil had healthier blood lipid profiles, a major determinant of heart disease. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut milk may also kill the three major types of atherogenic organisms — bacteria that cause plaque formation in the arteries — that may lead to heart disease.

Healthy Skin and Hair

Coconut milk is highly nutritious when ingested, and these nutrients may help fortify and condition skin and hair as well. The fatty acids in coconut milk are a natural antiseptic and may help treat dandruff, skin infections, wounds and dry, itchy skin. Furthermore, the high fatty acid content in coconut milk serves as a natural moisturizer for healthy skin and may help repair wrinkles and sagging in aging skin.

Benefits of Winter Squash

Squash has a reputation for fiber. Eating squash is particularly satisfying, because the bulk fills you up, allowing you to forgo second helpings. Because squash is actually the fruit of various members of the gourd family, it comes in a wide array of colors and sizes. Whether it’s tasty summer squash or sweet, flavorful winter squash, this vegetable is a great addition to any healthy diet. Though all varieties of squash are good nutrition choices, winter varieties tend to be more nutrient-dense. They generally contain much more beta-carotene and more of several B vitamins  than summer squash. Butternut squash’s beta-carotene content even rivals that of mangoes and cantaloupe. And that’s a boon in the fight against cancerheart disease, and cataracts. Beta-carotene may also play a role in reducing lung inflammation and emphysema. Winter squash also contains beneficial amounts of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, which is just right for filling you up, not out.

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