Meatless Monday: Pumpkin, Chickpea and Spinach Satay

I know, I know.... Another meatless post!?

But veggies are awesome! 

Before you click the close button and think "Urgh Wendy's gone vegetarian; I guess we can't be friends anymore" hear me out!

This dish LOOKS like a meat dish! =D?

See!? Okay this may be a bad angle for meat imitation. But it COULD look like some chunks of meat!

It fooled my brother. Multiple times. Before he asked me "what kind of satay is this?? I can't find any meat!"

I know though, that there are people that hate deceiving dishes... it's like your eyes promising your tastebuds some meat and it never gets any... And I'm not going to be one of those people who say "It totally tastes like meat! You won't even miss it!" So if you need some meat you can always add some in. I think chicken will go nicely.

So what's with the infux of veggie dishes?

I hate cooking with meat. It just feels slimey, and smelly and HARD to do! Yeh you'll probably never hear "I just can't be bothered to cook meat" from a vegetarian....But I promise the next recipe post will be a meat dish! In the meantime if anyone wants to make me a nice piece of lean steak (or even better take me to have some!) I'm always up for it ;) Don't lose hope in me though! I will have a meatier post soon! 

I found this recipe from the dozen or so mini recipe books I got at the recent conference (I'm really working up a collection!) I actually picked up this booklet not knowing it was all vegetarian recipes until quite a few pages in. The dishes looked so good, I was salivating anyway.

The recipe book is produced by Sanitarium, a company owned by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church so all it's products are vegetarian, in accordance to its teachings. You can actually order the book online for free and it has amazing photos that will make you drool, vegetarian or not!

Onto the recipe! I couldn't help myself and did make a few changes though.  The ingredient list may seem long but don't be scared! There's no weird ingredients that you only use for this dish and leave rotting in your fridge. Also it's a pretty simple one saucepan dish.

Pumpkin Chickpea and Spinach Satay
Adapted from: Sanitarium Food for Health and Happiness Cookbook

Serves: 4-5
Preparation and cooking time: 30mins


  • 2 tsp olive oil or peanut oil
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • Small piece of ginger the size of your pinky 
  • 700g pumpkin
  • 200ml Carnations light and creamy coconut flavour evaporated milk 
  • 1/2 cup salt reduced vegetable stock 
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets 
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/3 cup crunchy organic peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander 
  • 60g baby spinach
  • Boiled rice to serve  
  • Chilli (optional)
  1. Make some rice if you don't have any leftovers like me. 
  2. Prep all the veggies: Dice the onion, pumpkin and carrot. Chop up the garlic, ginger and coriander finely. Cut the caulifower into small florets.  
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions for 2mins until soft. 
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli if you're using it and give it a stir to mix. 
  5. Add in pumpkin followed by coconut flavoured evaporated milk and stock. 
  6. Bring everything to the boil, cover and simmer for 5-8mins.
  7. Add the cauliflower and carrots followed by the peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar and chickpeas. Stir to combine, cover and simmer until cauliflower is cooked (About another 5mins)
  8. Turn off the heat and stir in coriander and spinach leaves.
  9. Serve with rice.
Per serve: Energy: 1840kJ (440kcal), Carbohydrates 27g, Fibre 10g, Fat 26g, Saturated fat 6g, Protein 20g, Sodium 515mg, Potassium 1245mg, Calcium 115mg, Iron 3.6mg (These values are based on the original recipe and although not stated, I believe it is without rice)

The recipe book is at the back. My dish looks better right? =D 



I don't usually cook with coconut milk due to it's saturated fat content so to me using flavoured evaporated milk still gave it a nice coconut taste (Don't kill me if you think it doesn't taste 'authentic!') You could also use evaporated milk and add your own coconut flavouring. I had a look at some reduced fat coconut milk, which is where they use coconut extract and water, and some had less kilojoules per 100ml than the flavoured evaporated milk. However the saturated fat content was still higher.

Eg. per 100ml:
Carnations coconut flavoured evaporated milk: 1.1g sat fat
Amoy regular coconut milk: 21.6g sat fat
Amoy light coconut milk (44% less fat): 12g sat fat

How much fat you should have per day depends on your energy needs but I usually recommend 20-35% of your energy should be from fat in accordance with the NHMRC. Also <20g of saturated fat/day, as recommended by the National Heart Foundation Australia. You can see how easy this is to go over when having these products and we havent even gotten into coconut cream!  

Anyway back to the food! The original recipe actually asked for longer cooking times but I found my veggies got too soft and mushy especially when I stirred in the sticky peanut butter. So don't overcook!  My parents tried it without rice and weren't a big fan as it was too mushy but there won't be any problems if you don't overcook it =)

If you want to add meat, lightly stir fry it until cooked and put it aside then toss it back in with the cauliflower. 

As always this will be delicious: I guarantee it! (I should design a Wendy stamp of approval...) All that fibre and protein will keep you full and your body will thank you for feeding it vegetables!

I've got a little bit of leftover coconut flavoured evaporated milk so anyone have suggestions on what to make with it? 

What do Dietitians Eat?

When I tell people I'm a dietitian one of the most common things they ask me is "What do you eat?" Or sometimes it's statements like "You must eat real healthy" or "Are you a vegan or vegetarian?"

I always find it very difficult to answer this question as my diet is often quite varied and there's no specific thing I eat that would be different from anyone else; I don't have access to some miracle diet pill or secret diet book!

Often times these conversations occur when I'm eating and almost everyone has the immediate impulse to look at my food and judge me! If I have something society deems to be "unhealthy" I often get the "I can't believe you're eating THAT!"

This even happens with my mum. There's been a time where I've bought ice cream and sat outside my own house and eaten it in the car before going in because I didn't want to get judged by my mum. (and also so my siblings didn't steal any!) It's like we're all to have perfect diets and we wouldn't dream of having anything "unhealthy" on our plate. Thing is, I don't think foods can be simply classified as "good" and "bad." Like many things in life, it's all fifty shades of grey. Nutrition is such a complex field that it's difficult to decide how to rate the healthfulness of food.  

What I also think people forget though, and I think I'm speaking for a majority of dietitians here, is:  
We love food!

Why else would we do a degree on nutrition and spend all day talking about it!?

There are so many dietitians I know who would also call themselves foodies and many more who like a bit of dessert (like me!). And yet many look at us like we're food's worst enemy!

I thought to give an idea of what dietitians eat I'll share some photos from the International Congress of Dietetics held last week in Sydney. This was a large 3 day event of workshops and lectures that over 2000 dietitians attended from all over the world and lunch was provided.

Day 1: Clockwise from top: Falafel wrap, carrot cake, wild rice mix salad, egg sandwich on multigrain, green beans and cannelini beans, hainan chicken salad (in the middle)

Day 2: Corned beef, cheese and lettuce grain roll, pumpkin and fetta and strawberries (I think this was my favourite lunch)

Day 3: Chickpea and cous cous salad, chicken and egg wrap, mini eggplant burger, roast beef with tzatziki sauce and potato salad.

Sadly I didn't get a chance to take a photo of the vegetarian options.

Morning and afternoon tea wasn't really provided but as there was an exhibition on as well, free samples were given out. Available everyday was: Chobani and Jalna yoghurt, nuts, fresh fruit, Yakult.

As well as these many stalls had bags of goodies to give away, it was like the Easter show! Other foods of note include: a new Pepsi (coming soon), Grain Waves, meal replacement cookies,Quaker Oat cookies, Sanitarium One Square meal, Optifast, beans and corn mix, Heinze squeeze soup, chocolate paddle pops and much more.

Look at all these things to try!

Although I would eat practically anything, there are a few rules I follow with my day to day eating. 1.

  1. Eat breakfast. Breakfast is often my favourite meal on the weekends but during the weekdays I often value my sleep more than a sit down breakfast. However I always make sure I bring something with me before I head out the door as I know skipping breakfast always leads to poor food choices later on in the day. This can be an Up and Go, toast, fruit or yoghurt. 
  2. Have 2-3 snacks/day. I always bring my own snacks with me. My body is like clockwork when it comes to eating. I like to eat every 3 hours and sometimes there isn't always food around which is why I bring my own snacks. If I know there will be a fridge I bring some yoghurt but otherwise it'll be fruit, nut bars, nuts, or a homemade cupcake. Eating regularly also stops me from getting ravenously hungry and ending up at a fast food joint simply because it was the closest food avilable.
  3. Never eat infront of the TV. Studies have shown those who eat in front of the TV are more likely to be overweight or obese. In my family, dinner is the only meal when we all sit together so the television is always off and we share in conversation. I believe meals should be enjoyed with family and friends rather than with the television. You're more likely to appreciate the meal, eat mindfully and know when you're full. 
  4. Be mindful about your food choices. I think food goes beyond calories and nutrients. Food is often associated with emotions and I believe in eating for enjoyment rather than to count calories. We eat foods, not nutrients. I always try to be mindful about my food choices and know that when I choose an indulgent food it is a conscious choice and not something I eat just because it's there. This way I don't end up in a vicious cycle of emotional eating-guilt-more emotional eating.
  5. Eat slowly. I'm probably known as one of the slowest eaters amongst my friends. I like to savour my food and chew it properly. At the recent dietetic congress a Japanese study found that fast eating was linked to decrease in diet induced thermogenesis (DIT) (amount of energy needed to process food; low DIT is linked to obesity). Also it takes the body around 20mins before it begins to feel full so if you rush through your meal you're more likely to overeat. I find with slow eating you get more time to appreciate your meal and notice the different flavours, textures, smells more than if you rushed through it.
I take a lot of food photos and post it on my Instagram so if you're curious for more check out my Instagram at nutritionwwendy for more food ideas. And while we're at it, my twitter (@NutritionwWendy) also has a lot of nutrition goodness (incl. latest nutrition research from the congress!). If there's any foods I've made on my Instagram that you'll like the recipe to, let me know via Twitter or Instagram =)    

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The information presented on this blog acts as general nutrition advice and is not tailored to meet individual needs. It should not be used as a replacement for any medical advice you have recieved from medical practitioners. Please discuss any concerns for your health with your doctor or Accredited Practicing Dietitian before starting a new dietary or exercise regime as they can give more personalised recommendations.

I make every effort to ensure information on Nutrition with Wendy is correct and up to date however nutrition is an evolving field and discrepancies can arise. If the information here appears incorrect or out of date please let me know and I will do my best to update my posts.