I did not write this article (but I feel it's a great one so I'm sharing it!)
Seasons form a natural backdrop for eating. In today's world, it's so easy to forget about the seasons when we eat. Modern food processing and global distribution of food makes many foods available all year long. Recently, the concept of eating seasonally has grown because people want to honor the planet and all it offers naturally.
The term "season" refers to the specific time of year when a food is available at its peak ripeness, in terms of harvest and flavor. Seasonal also means that these items may be found at their most reasonable cost and are the freshest in the market.
By purchasing local foods "in season," you are eliminating the potential environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles. Your food dollar goes directly to the farmer, and your family will be able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed produce. Buying seasonal produce also provides an exciting opportunity to try new foods and experiment with seasonal recipes.
During the autumnal months people traditionally yearn for warm soups, stews, casseroles, pies, fruit crumbles and crisps. When the leaves change color and the air turns chilly, it's nice to stay inside and recreate the comforts of the fall season with autumn's best offerings. Here are a few fall foods you can add to your diet:
The warm smell and crisp flavor of apples is a sure sign that fall is just around the corner. In the Northern Hemisphere apples are in season from late summer to early winter. In addition to being eaten raw, apples are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes from salads to baked goods. According to the Environmental Working Group's 2010 report, apples are among the "Dirty Dozen" foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of apples unless they are grown organically.
The skin of fresh figs can vary from purple to pink or light brown, but the flesh inside is always a juicy crimson color. Unlike many fruits, figs contain protein and are also rich in calcium and iron. Choose those with firm, smooth skins. Figs are a sweet addition to salads. They can be sliced and used to top desserts, or served warm with cinnamon for a chilly evening treat. Fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and chopped almonds can be eaten daily as a healthy protein rich snack.
Dates provide many healthy components to our systems. Minerals, such as calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and potassium can be found in dates. They also contain fiber, amino acids, and even a small amount of essential fat. Dates are most popular for their high quality soluble and insoluble fibers. A high fiber diet may decrease risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, gastrointestinal disorders, weight loss and gain, blood sugar regulation and improved sleep patterns. Date are a wonderful addition to salads, grains and are extremely portable as an on-the-go snack.
The best carrots are found during the fall and winter when their flavors are more robust. The antioxidant compounds found in carrots help to protect against cardiovascular disease and may promote sharp vision. While we associate carrots with the color orange, carrots are found with other colors such as, white, yellow, red, or purple. When stored, carrots should stay far from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that may produce ethylene gas. When the produce comes in contact with carrots its flavor may become bitter. You can puree or dice carrots into warm soups, grate them into sauces, or juice them into marinades or beverages.
Pomegranates are known for their anti-aging qualities. The pomegranate fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins B and C, and iron. Pomegranate juice is rich in nourishing properties. Pomegrantes may also help level cholesterol and supports a healthy cardiovascular and immune system. Pomegranate may even be helpful in relieving certain menopause symptoms. Pomegranates are known for their antioxidant level which helps protect against stroke and heart attack. The pomegranate has a tremendous amount of flavonoids, which prevent cellular damage. Pomegranates are currently being studied as to their effects on slowing cancer growth and their ability to boost memory and mood.
The Jerusalem artichoke arrives around November, as a pile of muddy, knobby tubers. The tubers consistency is very much like a potato. Their raw form has a sweet nutty flavor. When sliced they fit perfectly into a salad or slaw. Jerusalem artichokes have 650 mg potassium per 1 cup serving, which makes them wonderful for recovery food after your fall Turkey Trot.
Autumn and winter are the traditional onion seasons. Onions have become a staple in any kitchen because they add flavor to virtually every recipe you can create. Onions are a very good source of vitamin C, chromium and fiber. They are also a good source of manganese, molybdenum, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, phosphorus and copper. Keep the flavors of summer alive when you add grilled onions to a shish kabob, flatbread pizza, or turn them into comforting baked onion rings.
Pears are a good source of vitamin C and copper. Both of these nutrients fall into the antioxidant family. Antioxidant nutrients help protect cells from free radical damage. Although not well-documented in research, pears are often recommended by many practitioners as a hypoallergenic fruit that may be less likely to produce a negative response in sensitive individuals.
Kale can provide some powerful heart healthy benefits when cooked. The fiber rich components in kale are more effective in the digestive tract when they've been heated. Kale has shown risk reduction benefits in cancer have recently been extended to include at least five different types of cancer. These types include bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. The flavonoid, kaempferol is known as the powerhouse antioxidant included in kale, followed by, quercitin. New research shows that up to 45 different flavonoids are present in kale. Bake up kale and break it into pieces as a substitute for potato chips.
Pumpkin is very high in carotenoids. Carotenoids give the pumpkin its orange color. Carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin are excellent at neutralizing free radicals. Carotenoids are known for promoting eye health. The seeds, are very high in protein, one ounce of seeds provides about seven grams of protein which is equivalent to one egg. Pumpkin oil is high in phytosterols, which are plant based fatty acids that are known for playing a part in the reduction of cholesterol levels.
When shopping this fall remember to choose fresh, organic produce in the season. Always strive for the recommended 6-10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
Butternut Squash and Cider Soup
1 medium shallot, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (about 1 pound)
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
2/3 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil, being careful not to burn.
2. Add squash, chicken stock and apple cider and cook until squash is soft enough to blend. Pour into blender container and blend until smooth.
3. Add sour cream, salt and pepper and continue to process until well mixed.
4. Divide among 4 bowls.
Makes 4 (3/4-cup) servings, each containing approximately:
16 grams carbohydrate
1 grams fat
3 mg. protein
321 mg. sodium
2 grams fiber
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups water
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch ground black pepper
1. In a large saucepan combine olive oil, onions, celery and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
2. Add nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice and stir for one minute.
3. Add pumpkin and water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
4. Add apple juice, milk, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Heat through, but do not bring to a boil.
5. Cool slightly, transfer mixture to a blender container and puree until smooth.
6. Pour soup into a saucepan and warm over medium heat before serving.
Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings, each containing approximately:
14 gm. carbohydrate
2 gm. fat
3 mg. cholesterol
2 gm. protein
80 mg. sodium
2 gm. fiber
New England Apple Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
12 tablespoons ice cold water
4 peeled and thinly sliced Red Delicious apples
4 peeled and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place flour in a medium bowl. Add salt and evaporated cane juice and mix well. Add butter and cut into flour, using a pastry cutter, until butter is the size of small peas. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing gently after each addition. Dough will begin to form a ball when enough water has been added. Gather dough with dry hands and form into a ball. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- Split dough in half and roll out two circles to fit 10 inch pie pan. Line bottom and sides of pie pan with one circle of dough. Evenly spread thinly sliced apples over the dough.
- In a small bowl mix together cinnamon and evaporated cane juice. Sprinkle over the top of the apples.
- Place the other circle of dough over the top of the pie and pinch the edges together to make crust. Cut 5 slits in the center of the pie. Brush crust with egg whites. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden.
Makes 12 servings, each containing approximately:
30 grams carbohydrate
4 grams fat
10 mg. cholesterol
2 grams protein
46 mg. sodium
2 grams fiber
Cook's Note:Use a mandolin to easily create thinly sliced apples.