The great outdoors

Why 2019 could be the year of witchcraft…

Witchcraft isn’t just for Halloween, it’s a growing trend that’s here to stay, says Centre of Excellence founder Sara Lou-Ann Jones

Although the Centre of Excellence offers more than 1,000 online courses on all sorts of topics – from candle making and yoga, to life coaching and beauty therapy – it’s the psychic and supernatural courses which have really soared in popularity in 2018, says founder Sara Lou-Ann Jones.

According to Sara, the appetite for Wicca (boosted by the #wicca and #witchesofinstagram hashtags on Instagram, which now have more than 1.8 million and nearly 2 million posts respectively) shows no signs of slowing down.

“Our psychic and supernatural courses are doing phenomenally well this year, with 20,000 sold in the past six months alone,” says Sara.

“Learning more about alternative medicines, treatments and spirituality has never been so popular and I predict the trend is set to continue to rise in 2019.”

The best-selling Centre of Excellence psychic and supernatural courses this year are:

  • Wicca and Advanced Wicca Diploma Courses (combined)
  • Psychic Development Diploma Course
  • Palmistry Diploma Course
  • Hedgewitchery Diploma and Audio Courses
  • Psychotropic Plants Diploma Course
  • Magical Herbalism Diploma Course
  • Kitchen Witchery Diploma and Audio Courses

Easy pumpkin recipes to make at home

Lily Simpson, founder of The Detox Kitchen, shares her hearty and warming pumpkin recipes, which are rich in vitamins, essential minerals and fibre  

Chickpea, Pomegranate & Pumpkin Curry

Serves 4 • 285 calories per serving

Chickpeas seem to have been made for vegetable curries as they have a wonderfully satisfying texture and they soak up all the spicy flavours. This recipe combines Indian spices with some Middle-Eastern influences in the pomegranate seeds and mint. The curry makes the perfect nourishing meal when you’ve been hit with the flu – iron and vitamin C are essential for a strong immune system, and coconut contains lauric acid, which has anti-viral properties.



  • ½ large pumpkin
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated with the skin on
  • 5 curry leaves (preferably fresh)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus extra leaves to garnish


  1. To prepare the pumpkin, cut the piece in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres. Cut each half into four pieces, then peel off the skin and discard. Cut the flesh into 1cm-thick wedges or half-moons.
  2. Set a large pan on a high heat and add the oil. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes. Now stir in the garlic, ginger and curry leaves and cook for 3 more minutes. Mix in the curry powder, cardamom, chilli, 100ml water, the salt and the pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the pumpkin to the pan with 150ml water. Stir well. Simmer for 20–25 minutes until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the pomegranate in half and place the halves cut side down on some kitchen paper. Gently tap them with a wooden spoon until all the seeds have fallen out. You will have to remove some of the skin that has fallen out too. Set the seeds aside.
  5. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk to the curry and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Finally, add the lime juice and chopped mint and stir through. Serve hot, garnished with the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.

Rich in Vitamins B1 (thiamin), C and E • Iron • Potassium • Phytoestrogens • Fibre

Pumpkin feijoada

Serves 4 288 calories per serving

The stew known as feijoada is one of Brazil’s national culinary treasures and it is often made for large gatherings of family and friends. It is traditionally based on meat but this vegetarian version with pumpkin and black beans is just as good and hearty.


  • 200g brown or wild rice 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • onion, diced
  • garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 tbsp grated fresh root ginger 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 400g tinned black beans, drained and rinsed Zest and juice of 2 limes, plus lime wedges
  • to serve
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • A small handful of fresh coriander Flaked sea salt


Put the rice in a pan with a pinch of salt and cover with three times the amount of Bring to the boil, then simmer until tender – brown rice will take 20–25 minutes, wild rice 30–35 minutes. Drain and keep hot.

While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion is Add the ground coriander, the red and yellow peppers and pumpkin and cook for a few more minutes, stirring. Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 10 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.

Add the black beans, the lime zest and juice, cherry tomatoes and smoked paprika and stir well. Simmer for a few more minutes until the beans are hot.

Meanwhile, pick the coriander leaves and set aside. Finely chop the Add them to the pan and mix into the feijoada.

Serve the feijoada with the rice, coriander leaves and lime wedges for squeezing.

Pumpkin, cherry and almond pie

Serves 4 646 calories per serving

Using pumpkin in sweet dishes has a long history – pumpkins were once stuffed with apples, sugar and spices to serve with savoury foods, and spicy, sweet pumpkin pie is traditional for American Thanksgiving. I love the naturally sweet, smooth texture of this pumpkin filling, which works very well with cherries. The pastry base can be a little fiddly as it doesn’t hold together like a regular shortcrust, but it’s worth the faff. If the pastry breaks as you line the tin, you can just patch it.

For the pastry:

  • 200g porridge oats 150g ground almonds Grated zest of 1 orange 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp wheat-free flour, plus extra for rolling out and dusting the tin

For the filling:

  • 400g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil 2 tbsp maple syrup 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom 70g ground almonds Grated zest of 1 orange 3 eggs
  • 400g fresh cherries, stoned and cut in half

To serve:

100g fresh cherries 1 tbsp honey Coconut yoghurt


To make the pastry, put the oats, almonds, orange zest, maple syrup and egg into a large mixing bowl and bring together with your hands to form a dough.

Dust your work surface with the tablespoon of Place the dough on the surface and knead into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30–40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas Dust a 20cm fluted tart tin with flour.

Lily Simpson. Photography: Issy Croker

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on the lightly floured Place it over the tart tin and gently press over the bottom and into the sides. Trim off the excess and use to patch any holes. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then set the pastry case aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

To make the filling, spread out the pumpkin on a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes until Leave to cool, then tip into a food processor, add the oil and maple syrup, and blitz until smooth. Add the rest of the filling ingredients, except the cherries, and blitz to combine – the texture should be similar to a sponge cake mixture.

Pour the filling into the pastry case. Scatter the cherries evenly over the surface and press them halfway into the mixture so that they are still visible on top. Bake for 25–35 minutes until the filling has set and is lightly golden on top. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before

While the pie is in the oven, put the additional cherries in a pan with the honey and cook on a low heat for a few minutes until the cherries have Allow to cool.

To serve, top each piece of pie with coconut yoghurt and some honeyed cherries.

For more easy pumpkin recipes, pick up a copy of the October/November issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine or subscribe today.



How pumpkins can boost our health

Resident blogger Megan Mclean shares her fondness for Autumn and reveals why pumpkin is the ultimate seasonal creeper and not just a Halloween accessory

In Season: The pumpkin (Cucurbita)

Autumn is a spectacular season that should be cherished until it officially hands over to winter on December 21.

We are all guilty of rushing through Autumn, tempted by winter’s offerings of cosy Christmas mornings and a merry New Year’s Eve, but this is a truly magical time.

So many thoughts come to mind when we think of fall – crackling fires, fluffy socks, the crunch of leaves, whistling winds, candles and, of course,  pumpkins – the personification of Autumn.

The pumpkin derived its name from the Greek word “pepon” which means “large melon” and is a member of the cucurbitaceae family, along with cucumbers, melons and watermelons. Pumpkins are actually creeping herbs, which can grow up to an impressive 10 metres in length and are characterised by their slightly ribbed skin and deep orange colour.

Pumpkins begun their production in North America and still have deep roots in Mexico, where you will find market stalls piled high with all shapes and sizes, but mainly the Calabaza, or West-Indian pumpkin. This variety is a beige colour and often has green stripes running down its bumpy exterior.

The Calabaza is closer to the pumpkins of the past than the vibrant orange selection displayed next to supermarket entrances today. Originally this fruit was far smaller, harder and bitter-tasting, but extremely durable – meaning it had no problems surviving harsh winters.

What shines through when investigating the use of pumpkins as a food source in Mexico is their impressive creativity. Pumpkin flesh is cooked into curry sauces, tamales or crystallised into a sweet treat, for example. The seeds, or pepitas as they are also known, can be lightly fried with salt and then either used to garnish a multitude of dishes, or ground up into a powder.

How can pumpkins help boost our health?

Replenishing iron stores

One cup of cooked pumpkin (244g) contains approximately 3.5mg of iron, almost 20% of the recommended daily allowance for women of 14.8mg. Iron is the only vitamin that has a higher RDA for females than males, with 8.7mg a day recommended for men. Keeping hold of the seeds will add another protein supply into the diet, as well as being listed as one of the top food sources of iron.

Vitamin A

Pumpkins are incredibly rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A which is converted to retinol (active form of vitamin A) in the small intestine. Beta-carotene is found in many plant sources and is responsible for the red-orange colour of some vegetables. It’s also an antioxidant, substances in our bodies fighting to prevent free radicals from causing us harm while they roam for free electrons.

They also remove toxins, reduce infection risks and are thought to aid in preventing certain types of cancers. The recommended intake of vitamin A is 900mg/day for men and 700mg/day for women to prevent deficiencies and positively affect immune function, promote healthy vision, growth and is essential for the development of a foetus in the mother’s womb.


Pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens which occur naturally in plants and can be taken in through a diet containing fruit, vegtables, nuts, grains and legumes. They are also commonly referred to as dietary estrogens because of how they work, basically they are very similar in structure to the hormone estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, and are treated in the exact same way by receptors.

For this reason, they are a natural source of help for women who’s hormones levels are fluctuating as they approach, or go through menopause, a dietary supply of estrogens can help alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes, tiredness, irregular periods and mood swings.

As if this little green seed full of phytoestrogens wasn’t incredible enough as it is, various studies have proposed they may also contain useful properties for fighting breast cancer, inhibiting growth of breast cancer cells.


After discussing how women can reap the benefits of the pumpkin it seems only fair to mention zinc, if there is one nutrient that men should be aware of in relation to their health, this is the one. Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is a vital contributor towards bone mass, muscle building, red blood cell production and regulating libido.

It’s assumed by some that testosterone levels are very stable in most men, or will only falter in elderly gentlemen, however most men will experience low testosterone levels at least once in their lifetime. Several symptoms can accompany low levels of this hormone, for example – erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, reduced hair loss, reduced muscle mass and increased body fat.

One way of preventing these symptoms is to simply maintain a healthy balanced diet, ensuring adequate sources of zinc from foods such as pumpkin seeds, which can easily be sprinkled over meals or eaten as a snack.

Sadly, fresh pumpkin is quite often put on the back burner for 10 months of the year here in Scotland, waiting patiently for the dark nights to draw in, the temperatures to drop and for the Halloween planning to begin. Not only that, but once the time does finally come for pumpkins to emerge from the darkness, we celebrate by carving into the exterior and throwing away all the nutrient dense goodness that is the flesh and seeds.

This Autumn, take a minute to put aside your squishy carving leftovers or even make a few extra pumpkin purchases and get creative, you won’t be disappointed.

The versatility of the pumpkin is often underestimated, it can be enjoyed in sweet or savoury dishes alongside flavours such as cinnamon, apple, chocolate, ginger, cranberry, vanilla and walnut. A wonderful way to eat pumpkin is to fill the hollowed-out interior with risotto, dried fruit and nuts, then bake whole until heated through.

On the other hand, the scooped-out flesh can make for a deliciously moist caramel and pumpkin cake, filled with autumnal spices and pecans.

For more from Megan, visit Oats and Ends.

For easy pumpkin recipes, make sure you pick up a copy of the October/November issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine.