Don’t Let the Media Feed You: butternut squash and lentil soup

12202311_10153816092389758_93846814_nThe media have a huge influence on what we (think) we know about food. I mean, let’s be honest, no one had even heard of kale two years ago and now it’s a disease-fighting, fatigue-beating, acne-clearing staple in the lives of most health foodies.  Now this isn’t because kale didn’t exist two years ago or because we only recently discovered that leafy greens are good for you. It’s largely due to media exposure that created the hype, eventually crowning kale ‘the ultimate superfood’.

I get it, food is almost like fashion in the way that these trends come about. A hot new chef or blogger will ‘discover’ the health enhancing properties of a random food, such as our newest obsession with putting bee pollen on everything. A few months later sales will have increased by 200% and everyone will be pouring bee pollen all over their porridge in an attempt to get the oh so coveted ‘glow’. After a few months of religiously eating an ingredient that you have to consume in impossible amounts get any of the benefits anyway, you end up for fitting more nutritious foods in order to afford the overpriced supplement. Then a new study is published that has failed to find any beneficial effects and actually reveals that bee pollen contains types of bacteria and fungi as well as traces of lead and cadmium.  But alas, it doesn’t matter because the damage is already done. As soon as we read that Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow eat it, it was a lost cause. Everyone will continue to believe it’s the answer to all of their body image woes.

That’s all very well when we are talking about health food products. But a hot issue in the press, that I think requires some clarification, is the internet-breaking revelation that eating meat causes cancer. Of course the Daily Mail lead this meat-hating brigade with mountains of articles offering different headlines that all made the same bold claim, that eating meat (bacon in particular) will increase your chances of getting cancer, thus placing it into ‘foods we should avoid at all cost’ category. I absolutely hate the way in which the media reduces such incredibly complex factors and external variables into one resounding statement that applies to everyone.

Foods should not be considered good and evil. The balance of nutrients, digestive process and environmental differences that influence our health are a lot more complicated that simply good or bad. We do not live in a fairytale with a villainous bacon who’s consumption will lead to exclusively harmful consequences Vs. the heroine, kale, who only is unconditionally beneficial. Yes some foods are largely bad when eaten in large quantities and others are a lot more better for our health.  Yes, processed meat has been associated with a 6% increase of bowl cancer but red meat has also been implicated in the development of human’s intelligence and provides large amounts of iron which increases energy and reduces fatigue.

If you eat a meat-heavy diet, you will probably reap both positive and adverse effects of eating meat. Sure, eating processed bacon every single day is likely to eventually lead to some negative health consequences. But this does not mean that all meat is now a carcinogenic.

The media has completely misconstrued the scientific message which was that PROCESSED meats has been associated with one type of cancer. The target of evil should surely be on processed foods, rather than meat in general. Human and other animals have been eating meat for millions of years and they’ve done pretty well so far. The only difference is now we are pumping our meat full of chemicals, additives and using cows with a poor quality of life that are fed hormones and antibiotics. Let it be clear, it’s not the food that is evil, it’s the industry.

Here’s a recipe that is vegetarian (and vegan) recipe that will give you many of the benefits of meat. It’s high in both iron and protein, is a perfect winter comfort food and most importantly – is all natural!

Butternut Squash and Lentil soup:

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1 butternut squash

2 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 teaspoon each turmeric, smoked paprika and cumic

300ml vegetable stock

1/2 cup lentils

1 tablespoon coconut cream (could also use greek yoghurt or sour cream)

1 tablespoon coconut oil/olive oil

  1. Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and set aside. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with either coconut or olive oil. Road in the over at 180 for 40 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, cover the seeds in oil and smoked paprika and roast for 15 minutes, until crunchy.
  3. Once the squash is soft, scoop the insides out into a pan. Add all ingredients other than the cream and boil in water for 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Meanwhile boil the lentils in vegetable stock for 15 minutes.
  4. Add a bunch of chopped coriander and blitz in the blender until smooth
  5. Top with a swirl of coconut cream (you could also use greek yoghurt, sour cream or creme fraiche) and garnish with coriander.
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