I am writing this with all my fingers and toes crossed, because I'm still hoping for an Indian summer, However, there's little doubt in my mind that Autumn is here. There's a different feeling in the air, and if you look closely you can see the leaves starting to turn.
Despite my preference for tropical climes, I actually love Autumn. The beautiful change in the leaves, shopping for new boots, starting to think about Christmas, the benefits are many. But I have to say my very favourite thing about the new season is the change in produce and cooking.
If you have an ill that only food will fix, doesn’t it just make sense to use the freshest, best-for-you food that you can?
Before the days of beans flown in from Kenya, and fruits from Mexico, we used to eat foods that were in season, and grown locally. Foods that had been ripened on the plant, or in the ground, and hadn’t travelled very far since it was harvested. These foods, therefore, are freshest, have higher nutrient levels and often taste better. Anyone who has grown their own strawberries or plums in their back garden can attest to this.
One of the most beneficial things about eating seasonally, however, is that you’re not eating the same thing all the time. Lots of variety. It’s much better for you to have a broad range of nutrients at lower levels, than very high levels of a single nutrient. So, if you’re a creature of habit and stick to the same few fruits and vegetables, it’s harder to have all of the different vitamins, minerals and other phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants that your body thrives on.
This season, autumn, has some of my favourite foods, and I look forward to it all year. After a summer of salads I’m suddenly craving the comforts of warming soups, ratatouille, casseroles, stewed fruits such as plums, blackberry crumble, or baked apples with cinnamon and pecans (yum yum). Not to mention the myriad of delicious things you can do with pumpkin, beginning with my favourite.....pie.
Here’s a small sample of fruits and vegetables that are in season for autumn.
Artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, celery, courgettes, cucumber, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mangetout, marrow, onions, peppers, pumpkin, radishes, rocket, runner beans, sweetcorn, watercress.
apples, blackberries, damsons, figs, grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, elderberries, quince and chestnuts.
Any food with a gorgeous deep colour like beetroot or kale, contain lots of anti-oxidants, squash and carrots are rich is beta-carotene, another fabulous anti-oxidant and a form of vitamin A which is often low in Coeliacs
Garlic, onion and leeks are basically super-foods, containing sulfur, which is great for the liver and the skin, they are pre-biotic foods, so good for supporting healthy gut flora, which is important for digestion, immunity and nutrient absorption. Garlic is known for it’s anti-microbial properties, handy for the upcoming cold and flu season.
Search the net for a full list of seasonal foods for each month (mumsnet has a decent one) and shop accordingly.
See if you can find a farmers market somewhere close to you, or you may consider having a veggie box delivered weekly or fortnightly.
Lastly, for those of you who find preparing meals a chore, or new foods daunting, my slow cooker is my best friend in autumn and winter, and makes cooking yummy, interesting and fun food pretty easy.