(Photo by Tara Fisher)
This dish is truly spectacular — even if we say so ourselves. Perfect to spend a little time over at the weekend, although once the stuffing is made it’s a hassle-free dinner. Amazingly vivid Autumnal colours, ingredients and flavours. Anything that looks this good must be really healthy, and it is! The combination of sweet, soft ‘candied’ coquina squash flesh with chewy edges, the concentrated sweetness of roasted beetroot, and the beautifully warming subtly spiced stuffing (chilli and cinnamon), compliment each other spectacularly.
If you eat these types of meal it is physiologically impossible to put on excess weight and the ingredients are protective against long-term chronic illnesses. So why it this meal healthy — it tastes deliciously ‘sweet’ and ‘buttery’ — ‘sweet’ is bad isn’t it? Let’s consider the ingredients:
- Squashes like butternut and coquina are an excellent alternative to other high glycaemic profile or refined carbohydrates (which promote weight gain, high blood pressure and bad ‘fats’ in your blood) elements in meals. Naturally sweet but with a high ratio of soluble fibres to energy content they provide perfect slow release energy. With those vivid colours it’s also obvious they are packed full of other healthy micronutrients.
- Although both butternut and coquina are delicious we prefer the coquina variety (both look the same) — has an extra melon sweet flavour and texture to the flesh. As with all squashes (and pumpkins) they have a high water content and so benefit from roasting to concentrate the flavours. This will turn the flesh a golden orange with ‘candied’ sweetness and chewy roasted edges.
- We don’t favour the term ‘superfoods’ because of the pseudoscientific associations but from a nutritional profile beetroot are super. We are particularly interested in the nitrate content which lowers blood pressure and relaxes or expands arteries (also good for endurance or performance sport).
- The stuffing has an ‘illusion’ of meatiness which flavours the complimentary ingredients. Despite the rich, slow cooked meat umami flavours the stuffing is over 50% vegetables or legumes with the addition of green lentils and chickpeas. These legumes are very high in fibre which further adds to the cardiovascular protective qualities of the meal but creates an additional slow digest or energy release package — no sudden peaks in blood sugar and fat storage here. Incidentally green lentils are higher in fibre than yellow and red varieties.
Overall the recipe is rich in vegetables and high in fibre — perfect for cardiovascular protection, blood pressure control, blood sugar ‘balance’ and an improved lipid (‘cholesterol’) profile.
Don’t be put off by the long process outlined below. This is actually quite straight forward with minimal preparation time. The main time ‘investment’ is in making the base sauce and stuffing. We make a big pot at the weekend which can be used in lots of different dishes by adding meal specific bits later — Bolognese-style pasta sauce, chilli etc. Freeze in individual portions and this can be cooked straight from frozen for quick, healthy weekday dishes. It’s also very economical. Obviously one advantage of a Cardiologist’s Kitchen recipe is that you can rely and trust us to reverse-engineer a protective meal but with an emphasis on taste.