Eating seasonally also helps those of us who get bored easily as it gets you cooking and eating different foods rather than the same old supermarket shop.As summer draws to close we enter September and the Autumn season. Eating seasonally has many benefits. For starters it's more environmentally friendly because the produce has been grown in their natural climate without the need for artificial interventions. And because of this, seasonal produce will be fresher and taste better. It's great for your health too because it adds variety to your diet and helps prepare you for for the season ahead. For example immune boosting and mood lifting nutrients to prepare you for a colder climate and shorter daylight days.
The best way to eat seasonally is to either grow your own veg in your garden or allotment, or if you don't have either buying fruit and veg from your local green grocers, health food shop, farmer's market or you could even sign up to a veg box delivery service. If you know what foods are in season then your supermarket should stock all these foods as well. Here are some of the fruit and veg that are in season during Autumn.
1 Pumpkin and Squash
Autumn is Halloween Season but pumpkins are not just for carving scary faces. You can get the most awesome pumpkins in different sizes and colours. They promote bowel health, help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, and is supposed to support a healthy pregnancy.
Pumpkin and squash are essentially a carbohydrate and a very healthy kind and a great source of fibre so if you switch your white potato for a butternut squash you're onto a winner. There are all kinds of things you can do with these veggies. From soups to stews, chips to pies and scones to cakes. Keep the skin on if you can as this is where a lot of the nutrients live. And don't forget pumpkin seeds can also be eaten when roasted.s.
Beetroot is truly an awesome veg. It is full of cancer busting nutrients. It also supports liver functioning, improves circulation and is good for blood health. If you suffer from high blood pressure, drinking it as a juice every day can help regulate it.
You probably think of beetroot being this lovely deep purple colour but did you know you can get Golden beetroot too. It has a orangey-red skin and a bright yellow flesh. However, this incredible veg comes with a warning; get it on your clothes and you're screwed!
Next time you're out shopping, ditch the packet of beetroot in vinegar and try to find the freshly picked kind. You can grate them raw in salad, or cook them by roasting or steaming them, and even make them into soup or a beetroot cake. Yes cake. It's silky consistency when cooked gives a cake a beautifully moist texture.
Broccoli, otherwise known as mini trees to most children, is a pretty impressive veg. Green broccoli is the most common type but you can also get purple sprouting broccoli but they are actually in season in early spring. Did you know the leaves of the broccoli contain more beta-carotene, which boosts the immune system, than the flowers or stalks. So next time, don't throw them away and eat them instead. Broccoli is also a cancer combating food helping to protect us from prostate and colon cancer. It is also great for your skin, immune system and eye health. Hail to the Broccoli.
I can eat steamed broccoli on its own but if this leaves you gagging then there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it. Stir fry it with garlic, ginger and soy sauce, make a classic broccoli and Stilton soup, use them as crudites for dipping in houmous, or smother in tahini and sesame seeds. The options are really limitless.
Courgettes are either green or yellow and both are packed full of goodness and nutrients. The yellow ones in particular are rich in anti-oxidant carotenes, which are good for eye health. Make sure you eat the skin, unless discarding any bad bits, because that's where the main sources nutrients are. These autumnal veggies also promote good bowel health and regularity, helps lower cholesterol and balances out blood sugar.
Courgettes work really well roasted, stuffed, spiralised and fried. You can also eat them raw in salads or juiced. They go really well with mint, lemon, black pepper and feta cheese.
I usually associate cucumbers with summer salads but it is in fact an autumn food. Ridge cucumbers have a bumpy, dark green skin, and Smooth cucumbers, which are the most common variety in the UK, has a smooth streaky green skin. Cucumbers are 98% water so they help to maintain water balance in the body, promotes a healthy gut and helps lower cholesterol. Again the nutrients are mainly found in the skin and the diuretic properties are found in the seeds so removing these when preparing them will be stripping away all the goodness. There are loads of things you can do to cucumbers, such as making a tzatziki dip, vinegar slaw, crudities for dipping, in juices, in salads and even soup.
Yes it's that time of year for blackberry picking. So get yourself down to you local disused railway line with a basket and forage for this glorious superfood. There are a lot of claims about so-called superfoods but blackberries really are super and once again are packed full of anti-cancer properties. If you've had a bit too much sun or overindulged in rich food and drink this summer then fill up on these berries. They help repair sun damaged skin and cleanse the gut.
There are tons of stuff you can do with them. Eat them raw by sprinkling them over your porridge or cereal, add them to a smoothie or add some whipped double cream for an indulgent desert. Cook with them by adding them to an apple pie or crumble for extra zing and antioxidant goodness, or make a coulis and drizzle over some icecream. Why not make some jam (Christmas is just around the corner and everyone loves something homemade). Now there's an idea.
You can't get much better than a crisp, juicy apple and autumn is when they're at their best. Apples are either green. red and yellow, but there are so many varieties. My go-to apple has to be Pink Lady for their sweetness but I also love a Braeburn for their crunchiness and a Russet for their nutty texture. The red ones contain more antioxidants than the other types, and the pectin in yellow apples is supposed to help lower the absorption of dietary fats. They are also good at balancing blood sugar levels, it can relieve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. strengthens bones and helps lower cholesterol. Boom.
Apples are a great snack. They are so transportable and less messy than other fruits. But there are loads of other things you can do with apples like grating it into some yoghurt, you can add it to a salad or ploughmans. You can also bake it in the oven, make a pie, crumble or tarte, stew the apple and add it to porridge or add it to some braised red cabbage for that extra va-va-voom.
I don't think pears are given the praise they deserve. Perhaps this is because you've not eaten them in season? There are three types of pears; Conference, Red Anjou and Chinese Pears. The Red ones are particularly nutritional. All are good for reliving rheumatic conditions such as arthritis and gout, they help relieve constipation and is a mood lift.
Again, pears are a great snack. I like them when they're slight;y under ripe and crunchy. They also goes beautifully in a salad with some blue cheese and walnuts. Trust me, it works. You can poach them in red wine and bake them with a drizzle of agave and cinnamon. Or go the whole hog and make a pear and apple tart. Whichever way, try some pears this autumn.
Some of the information provided on this page has been informed by Neal's Yard's Healing Foods (2013).