Chef Steve’s Pumpkin Curry

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PHOTO: Chef Steve Norton, in a black chef's coat, sits with an assortment of the ingredients in his recipe in front of him. Steve holds his hand out above his head and is throwing spices up into the air.

Chef Steve’s Pumpkin Curry

Chef Steve's take on curry

Story by Steve Norton
Photo by Estefania Cavazos

The culinary industry is flourishing with people from the disability community. There are numerous organizations providing culinary skills training programs to prepare adults and children with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities for in-demand careers in the foodservice industry.

One Step Beyond, Inc., with a location in Peoria, Arizona and San Mateo, California, offers a Culinary Program for people with intellectual disabilities that focuses on two main areas: life skills and catering. For more information, visit One Step Beyond, Inc.

In Randolph, New Jersey, the County College of Morris (CCM) recently launched a Culinary Opportunity Program (COP) for adults with developmental disabilities. This program is designed to provide training to work in a range of food production environments, such as restaurants, cafeterias and food-specialty shops.

Abilities, Inc. at The Viscardi Center in Albertson, New York, prepares adults and adolescents with all types of disabilities and experience levels for entry or re-entry into the workforce. Its Work Readiness program is set in an on-site simulated retail workspace. Its Culinary Skills program has a 100% placement rate.

In this edition, you’ll find two stories of different restaurants in the Southwest that are working to make jobs readily available for people with disabilities and one chef who is taking on Houston with a modern Vietnamese gastropub. LivAbility takes you behind the scenes of the newly-opened restaurant, The Blind Goat, by Christine Hà, winner of MasterChef season 3.

Here are a few examples of other organizations making a difference:

No matter your disability, if you are interested in the culinary field, many opportunities exist. I encourage you to explore your options and follow your dreams.

Right now, I am dreaming about fall and the lower temperatures that come with it, the beginning of reduced daylight hours, and trees abundant with leaves in stunning colors of golden yellow, burnt orange and radiant red that remind me of spices commonly used in Indian cooking.

A picture of flying food. A frying pan is filled with steamed rice and sits on a maple-colored circular cutting board. In a circle serving dish is full of bright orange pumpkin curry. Scattered throughout the rest of the photo are square pieces of pumpkin, a slice of onion, a clove of garlic, curry and paprika spices.Indian spices are packed with flavor and beneficial to your health. Ginger aids in relieving colds, joint pain and digestion. An easy remedy for an upset stomach is to drink a cup of hot water that has been steeped with a slice of peeled ginger root. Turmeric is related to ginger and is what gives yellow curry its color. It is a powerful antioxidant, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps cleanse the liver of toxins. Cardamom is a digestive aid. Cloves are an expectorant, so they are useful for coughs. Cinnamon helps control blood glucose, so it is good for those with diabetes to incorporate it into their diets. Cumin seeds boost the immune system and help with nausea and digestive problems. Saffron improves appetite and digestion. Mustard seed/oil has properties that help control asthma symptoms and relieve arthritis and muscle pain.

Pumpkin is also synonymous with the arrival of fall. You can find a multitude of pumpkin-spiced foods and beverages everywhere you look. Pumpkin can be used in many different recipes and has many health benefits. It is 94% water, so it is fairly low in calories. It is very high in beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A; vitamin A strengthens your immune system and helps fight infections. Pumpkin contains antioxidants and is high in vitamin C, which increases white blood cell production. It is also high in potassium and fiber which have shown benefits to the heart.

To reap the benefits of a nutrient-packed dish reminiscent of the rich fall colors, combine flavorful Indian spices with fresh or canned pumpkin. Try your hand at this recipe!

Pumpkin Curry
Serves 4 to 6

1 medium white onion, diced

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced

1 to 1 ½ ounces can chickpeas, rinsed & drained

4 carrots, cut into ¼” pieces or ½ small bag of baby carrots

2 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash (can substitute with 1 to 1 ½ ounces canned pure pumpkin puree)

2 cups vegetable broth

2 teaspoonfuls curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne

Juice from ½ a lemon

Parsley and brown rice for serving; chopped cashews for topping

Bring a drizzle of coconut oil to medium heat in a large pot. Add in the diced onion and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in all other ingredients and stir or whisk until evenly combined. Simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, partially covered, or until chickpeas are soft and curry has thickened. Sprinkle parsley and chopped cashews on top and serve with brown rice.

An overhead shot of an assortment of spices and vegetables on dark grey slate. The spices are in neat piles.
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Steve Norton
Writer / Chef

A native of Santa Ana, CA, Steve Norton has been in the hospitality industry for the past 30 years. He attended New York’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America and has worked as a private chef. Norton loves to share his knowledge and expertise in healthy eating, including menu planning, managing a food budget, and cooking with fresh ingredients.


Read more by Steve Norton.

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