I love the change of seasons and the new foods which appear.
Have you ever noticed that the colors of the foods correspond to the colors of the earth?
There is no better time to see this than with the colors of Fall. The trees are turning beautiful shades of orange, dark red, auburn, hazel or cocoa-colored and the food coming to the markets is different types of winter squash, yams and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, persimmons, pomegranates, fresh and dried figs, dates, and walnuts. This is a cornucopia of fresh produce just waiting to be cooked into delicious food!
But first, let’s talk about the beauty of nature and how she provides the nutrients we need for the season ahead.
Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash such as butternut or Kabocha, carrots
The orange color of these foods comes from the phytonutrient beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is considered an antioxidant and is also a precursor to vitamin A. As the season changes, and there is more night time, the earth has provided food that is necessary for night vision and eye health. In addition, Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, which protects cells from free radicals, and is used in processes for cell differentiation.
Squash is very high in fiber, which helps keep you feeling full for longer periods of time
A pomegranate is a fruit, with an inedible skin but the “gold” is the tiny edible seeds inside, called arils. These arils are loaded with fiber, protein and Vitamins C and K.
But what makes pomegranates such an important fall fruit, is their bioactive plant compounds called punicalagins. Punicalagins are antioxidants found in the juice and peel of the pomegranate, which yield punicic acid.
The punicic acid is the primary fatty acids in the arils and has conjugated linoleic acid. This conjugated linoleic acid contributes to the anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranates.
Pomegranate seeds, or the arils, are easily added to your morning smoothie, or, with some almonds or walnuts, to add a punch to a snack of organic plain yogurt. If you don’t want to deal with the seeds, pure pomegranate juice is readily available; just make sure there is no added sugar in the product.
Pomegranate juice has been show to helpful for inhibiting prostate cancer in men. For women, pomegranate extract has been shown to inhibit proliferation of breast cancer cells.
Fresh persimmons contain anti-oxidant compounds Vitamin A, beta-carotene, lycopene. These compounds act as protective scavengers against free radicals, which play a role in aging and disease processes. They also contain zeaxanthin, an important carotenoid that helps prevent age related macular disease, as well as vitamin C and many valuable B-complex vitamins, which act as co-factors for metabolic enzymatic functions in the body.
Dates provide the concentrated sweetness of a dried fruit but they also provide 3 grams of dietary fiber per fruit, which helps to move waste through your colon, as well as and helps prevent the absorption of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Like orange-colored vegetables, they also contain Vitamin A, to protect eyes, and maintain healthy skin and mucus membranes. Dates are also filled with minerals as well as B Vitamins, and these cofactors help your body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats
Figs also have dietary fiber, with 4-5 grams per fruit. This helps reduce weight as well as excess fat in the body. Figs are a high source of iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
People often comment that walnuts look like our brains. This is an example of a food looking like what it helps your body with. Because walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats and contain higher amounts of antioxidants than most other foods, they contribute to brain health as well as prevention of heart disease and cancer.
Walnuts are the only nuts that contain significant amounts of the healthy omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a precursor for the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Walnuts also contain polyunsaturated fats, an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid is the primary one. They also contain several vitamins and minerals – copper, folic acid, phosphorus, Vitamins E and B6, and manganese.
As the season changes into Fall, nature provides us with foods that will enhance our night vision, provide antioxidants to protect our health, and fiber to increase our elimination and decrease “bad” fat absorption, as we become more sedentary as the winter approaches. Truly amazing!
This recipe is easy to make, delicious, and actually healthy for you!
Pumpkin gets its beautiful orange color from beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, which is important for good eye health and night vision. The spices in it are warming and have anti-inflammatory properties. Coconut is highly nutritious, rich in fiber, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals which turn calories into useable energy, protect healthy cells from free radical damage and work to support your immune system.
All my recipes have reduced the amount of sweetener in them and are not overly sweet. Of course, you can add more sugar to your taste.
THE MAIN STAR
COOKING THE PUMPKIN
Preheat oven to 375°. Slice the pumpkin in half, and place face down on greased baking sheet. Cook until soft, about 30 minutes. When cool, remove seeds and scoop out pumpkin. Run pumpkin through a food
This recipe is filled with beta-carotene and fiber from the squash, plus the onions or leeks provide Vitamin C to improve immunity, reduce inflammation and garlic is loaded with antioxidants to protect again cell damage. But all you really need to know is this is easy to make and very delicious!
You can use any winter squash for this soup- Butternut, Kabocha, Kuri are some of my favorite ones to use. You can also add a few carrots, which will add a slightly sweet flavor.
The easiest way to separate the squash from its hard outer skin is to slice the squash and place it in a steamer, seeds and all. You want to steam for several minutes, until the squash is not entirely cooked but you’ll be able to scoop it out. Remove the squash from the steamer and place on a cookie sheet to cool. Save the liquid, as you’ll use that for the soup!
While the squash is cooling, in a large pot,
As the wine evaporates, remove the squash from its skin and place into the pot, stirring to mix ingredients.
Cool slightly and with an emersion blender, blend until smooth or, place in a food processor or blender, blending until smooth.
I always double this recipe, to have soup ready in the freezer for quick use during the cold winter months. This soup, with a salad, makes a healthy and delicious meal for you and your family or friends.
I got this recipe from a lovely woman, Cele Kissen, while attending undergraduate school in Philadelphia. I’ve modified it so it’s gluten free, changed and reduced the sugar.
Not only is this recipe delicious; it is filled with nutrients! The dates provide fiber and Vitamin A, while the walnuts are providing protein, polyunsaturated fat, and multiple vitamins and minerals.
This is a perfect example of not having to deprive yourself of sweeter food because you are committed to eating healthy.
PREPARE YOUR PAN
I make this in either a round spring form pan, a loaf pan or muffin tins. Whichever pan you choose, please butter the pan, line it with parchment paper and then rebutter the paper, to insure the cake or muffins will easily come out when done.
Preheat the oven to 350°
Chop 1 cup walnuts
PREPARE THE DATES
Cut into small pieces ½ lb. dates
Place in large bowl and cover with 2 cups of boiling water
Add 2 tsp. baking soda