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Do You Love Autumn…Like It’s Your Favorite Season??!?!
I know that all seasons have their benefits, but who doesn’t love that first nip in the air and those crisp blue skies…..you know…..that shade of blue that only happens in autumn.
It is purely magical!
And what about the foods? Oh my goodness…..they’re so delicious, too.
I know that most of us enjoy big, beautiful salads in the summer months, but there’s something magical about a big hearty bowl of ‘root’ veggie soup….or a pureed butternut squash soup, so creamy and smooth. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
Most of us might not think about how nature creates the most perfect food for us at the most perfect time.
There is something to be said for ‘seasonal’ eating. And, we should honor what our body needs and eat the foods that are naturally harvested during the various growing seasons.
Autumn inundates us with root veggies like carrots, beets, parsnips…..but it’s those ‘squash’ foods that make me jump for joy. Acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, etc. Those deep orange pigments are trying to tell us something.
And what about those beans and lentils???? There is something so comforting about a big bowl of bean soup.
Change is Good
As the seasons change, our need for specific vitamins and minerals change, too.
As we approach the shorter days of late autumn and winter, our bodies increase their need for:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
It’s probably not a coincidence that these are the nutrients necessary to support optimal immune function.
So, what are the best foods to eat, during the autumn and winter months, to support our need for the vitamins and minerals listed above?
A wide variety of winter squash are loaded with Vitamin C. You can’t go wrong with butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash or delicata squash. A one-cup serving of most of these squash will provide you with 30-50% of your RDA of Vitamin C…..but the same serving also provides more than 100% RDA of Vitamin A. (And, as a bonus, you’ll get 80-100 mgs calcium, too.)
The sun is the best way to get this important nutrient. So, get out. Take a walk. Enjoy your cup of ‘joe’ on the porch. Spend time communing with nature. Whatever works for you….just make sure you spend time outside every single day.
Potatoes (especially the skins), pumpkin seeds and beans are a great source of plant-based iron. One cup of cooked beans will give you 6+ mgs iron, pumpkin seeds offer 4+ mgs and potatoes will offer 3+ mgs.
A one-cup serving of lentils can supply you with 90% of the RDA of folate.
Beans (my favorite are black beans) provide a nice dose of zinc. They also offer a variety of phytonutrients like anthocyanins and quercetin, which possess antioxidant properties, which also boost immune function.
Multi-Functional Autumn Veggies
Beets offer us ‘triple’ duty.
- They are a good source of Vitamin C, folate and iron.
Parsnips offer us ‘double’ duty
- They are a good sources of Vitamin C and folate.
Important note on food prep
While I definitely enjoy my bean soups in the autumn and winter, I want to make sure you understand that I soak my beans for 8-12 hours and rinse them before cooking them. I want to minimize the phytate and lectin levels that can inhibit the mineral absorption in our food.
Sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming learning about how to ‘eat with the seasons’. If that’s true for you, you can always ask a Nutrition Therapist to guide you through the process. And….if learning how to prepare wonderful, seasonal foods excites you, you will likely enjoy enrolling in a Natural Food Cooking Program to learn all the tips and tricks. Heck, this education can also set you up on the road to a new and exciting career, too.
All this talk’s got me hungry. Let’s stop talking about the nutrients in these yummy foods and get down to preparing a hearty bowl of soup.
Autumn Harvest Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: About 25-30 minutes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 cups of butternut squash, cut in 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups regular or sweet potato (or both), cut in 1-inch cubes
- 1 apple, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chicken stock, OR vegetable stock, OR water
- 1-2 tbs butter (or oil of choice)
- ½-1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- ¼-1/2 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
Melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onions and smashed garlic. Sauté for 4-5 minutes until softened, stirring frequently.
Add the chopped carrots, squash, sweet potato, apple, and bay leaf.
Pour in the chicken stock (or water or vegetable stock).
Add the salt and pepper.
Cover and increase the temperature to medium-high.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce temperature to low to maintain a light simmer, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Remove from heat, remove the bay leaf and puree using an immersion blender. (If using a blender to puree the soup, let the soup cool enough to handle safely.)
Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Divide into 4 hearty bowls.
Thank you to our neighbors to the north, at Davison Orchards, in British Columbia, for this yummy recipe.
Black Bean and Lentil Chili
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 4 large carrots diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 – 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups lentils sorted, soaked and rinsed
- 29 ounce can tomato sauce
- 29 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed (if using dried beans, soak for 8-12 hours and rinse before cooking)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
- 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers diced
- 1 – 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey use pure maple syrup to keep this vegan
- salt and pepper to taste
- Hot Sauce
- sour cream
- avocado cubes
- shredded cheddar or jack cheese
- a squeeze of lime
- cilantro leaves
In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil, then the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until the onions have softened, then add the garlic and continue to cook for just one minute.
Add the spices next through the bay leaf. Cook for about two more minutes to get them fragrant.
Add the broth (start with 5 cups first, you may need an additional cup later to thin the sauce out), lentils and tomato sauce and raise the heat to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes to get the lentils tender.
Add the black beans, corn, red peppers, hot sauce and honey and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes. Add the extra cup of broth, if needed.
Serve in bowls with the toppings of your choice.
I prefer using jarred roasted red peppers for a few reasons. The roasted pepper adds a nice sweet and smoky flavor that you don’t get from a fresh pepper and it’s so much easier to use the jarred peppers instead of roasting them yourself. If you want to roast your own…that would be delicious too!
If you are using canned broth, don’t use salt until the dish is completely done, then give it a taste. Even if using low salt broth, you may not even need any additional.
To keep this vegan, be sure to use pure maple syrup instead of honey and omit the sour cream and shredded cheese toppings. Try vegan shreds instead.
This makes a lot of chili, but it’s wonderful reheated days later and freezes well too.
Thank you, Caroline, at Taste, Love and Nourish, for this delicious and hearty chili.
About the author: Dr Becky is a course instructor at Nutrition Therapy Institute. Additionally, she works with patients at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease through her office, www.HealingFromAlz.com
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