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Why do we only seem to only associate pumpkins, gourds and winter squashes with Halloween? These colourful autumnal vegetables come in many varieties, shapes, sizes and even with multi-coloured stripes. They are easy to digest, so a fantastic food for the elderly, children or anyone recovering from illness.
Pumpkins, gourds and winter squashes are highly nutritious and a great seasonal autumn food that can be enjoyed for many months. They contain high amounts of complex carbohydrates, fibre, carotenenoids, and potassium, among a wide range of other vitamins and minerals. Like potatoes can be stored for months in a cool dry pantry or space.

Quinoa can rightfully be called a ‘superfood’. It contains high levels of protein of good quality, so it is a very useful source of protein in a vegetarian/vegan diet. It has more calcium than milk (weight-for-weight); it is also rich in other minerals like magnesium, iron and copper, and has very high levels of fiber.

The high magnesium content of this grain helps support the many people who have low levels of magnesium: eg those prone to migraine headaches, many digestive problems, etc, and it is helpful for preventing type-2 diabetes and helping those who already have it.

So two fantastic super-foods, delivering abundant nutrient goodies, as well as a delicious salad that will nourish you from your tippy toes, to the tip of your head and, will leave your taste buds desiring more.

Serves 4 -8 depending on the size of your pumpkins.


  • 170 grams quinoa (mix of black, red and white)
  • 340 ml lightly flavoured stock
  • 20 grams parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 large red onions, cut into wedges
  • 2-4 small pumpkins or butternut squash, cut into chunks (you can leave skin on)
  • 60 grams pecans, slightly broken
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Sea salt and crushed peppercorns to season
  • Small handful baby spinach leaves
  • Vegetarian
  • Low GI
  • Diabetic Friendly
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan
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  1. Heat stock until boiling: rinse quinoa under running tap, add to boiling stock, gently give quinoa a quick stir and place lid on saucepan. Cook on a low simmer for 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes by tasting a few grains – ideally there should still be a little crunch. You will notice a small white comma shape; this is a sign that the quinoa is very close to cooked if not already cooked. The liquid from the quinoa should have evaporated off. Let the grains sit for 5-10 minutes until cooled slightly. Lightly fluff.
  2. To roast pumpkin and red onion: Pre-heat oven to 200 C. Place pumpkin and red onion in a large mixing bowl. Lightly coat with olive oil, gently massaging until both are lightly coated. Place the onions on one tray and the pumpkin on a seperate tray. Take care not to overcrowd or they will steam rather than roast. Place in oven for 20 to 30 minutes until tender and lightly caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool, gently toss 1-2 times during roasting process.
  3. To caramelize pecans: Place heavy pan over medium heat. Spread nuts evenly and let them sit for 30 seconds, then stir for about 2-3 minutes or until they become fragrant, taking care not to burn any. Add maple syrup and toss gently to coat all the nuts, then transfer them to parchment paper to cool down, spreading them loose to prevent sticking.
  4. Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl, gently stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, seasoning and parsley. Gently mix in the roasted red onion, pumpkin, pecans and spinach.
  5. Arrange on a nice serving platter or serve in individual bowls. Lovely served on its own or as part of a buffet.

Maggie's Tips

  • To vary above recipe use whatever vegetable that are in season, vary nuts, use various cheeses, vary herbs.
  • Add cooked seafood such as prawns, poached salmon, mussels etc or shredded cooked chicken fillet. Can be served hot or cold.
  • Will keep up 2 – 3 days in your fridge.