I love a change of season! While sometimes you may not quite be ready to farewell the season you’re departing, like swimming in the summer *sigh*, a new quarter brings with it the opportunity to reset, reflect and ground yourself. There is no better way to ground yourself than focusing on what’s under your feet, taking a look at the earth and understanding what it provides for us all both naturally and in abundance.
When we come into glorious autumn here in Australia, we don’t quite see our entire flora change colours and shed their foliage, but the areas that do are still delightfully spectacular. The change in temperature and earlier sunsets are a gentle transition into a cold dark winter (yes, dark, I totally suffer a little seasonal affective disorder in the winter). Anyway, the cold and dark often inspires warmth in our food, warmth in colour, spice, and temperature and a welcome shift away from the cold, fresh, crisp summer salads. We gravitate towards the comfort of our cardigans and doonas in the form of food.
So, let’s wrap ourselves up in autumnal goodness and take a look at what’s in season, both what to pick and what to plant. By picking, cooking and consuming what is in season, we are doing some wonderful things. We are supporting our local farmers and buying sustainable, environmentally friendly and super nutrient-rich produce. You’ll find fruit and veggies that are in season are cheaper to produce and therefore cheaper to buy. I know I have said it before, but I really can’t stress this enough – eating produce that is in season is experiencing it at its absolute best, best flavour, best texture and most of all most nourishing! In autumn you can both spoil yourself with rich comfort food and reap the health benefits of some of the season’s finest produce. Look out for my ‘ingredient focus’ blogs throughout autumn, revealing some of nature’s best-kept secrets about mushrooms, figs, and watermelons. For maximum flavour, a super nutrient boost and minimum financial commitment, get creative in your kitchen with the following this autumn:
- Figs – full of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Find out more about figs with my figs in focus blog ‘All FIGured Out.’
- Peaches – low in saturated fat and delicious when prepared for both sweet and savoury dishes.
- Pears – rich in vitamin C and copper, lovely grilled in a salad.
- Watermelon – so refreshing, for those sneaky warm days.
- Plums – sweet but less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar.
- Beetroot – a great source of iron and folate, not to mention delicious hot or cold.
- Broccoli – contain powerful antioxidants.
- Cauliflower – a great alternative to rice.
- Cucumber – contains multiple B vitamins.
- Mushrooms – where to start? Check out my ingredient focus blog; mushrooms are magical (and I don’t specifically mean the ‘magical’ variety!)
- Pumpkins – great for heart health and those of you with high blood pressure.
- Tomatoes – rich in vitamin K and so versatile.
- Zucchini – so versatile, a great alternative to pasta and noodles. Good source of omega-3 fatty acids (good fats!)
- Sweetcorn – loaded with goodness that promotes healthy vision, try your organic and heirloom non-gmo varieties.
- Snow peas – rich in vitamins E and C.
- Sweet Potatoes – low in sodium and fewer calories than regular potatoes. Fantastic earthy flavour.
Make the most out of sweet potatoes with my alternative shepherd’s pie recipe (using ‘oh-so-comforting’ slow cooked beef brisket). If you’re still transitioning from summer and are clutching onto those salads, then my lunchtime adventures Poke Bowl and Beef Salad will make the very best of your snow peas, beetroot, cucumber, pumpkin, broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower. For those in a rush, you can’t go far wrong with a bit of heartwarming mushrooms on toast, especially when mushrooms are abundant and super delicious!
Now that we’ve discussed what to eat, which is very often my favourite subject, let’s have a look at what to plant. I am hopeful that your veggie patches have brought you much joy over the summer season and, if they’re ready for something new then look no further than these… beetroot, beans, broccoli, capsicum, cauliflower, carrots, celery, eggplant, melon, parsnip, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and cucumber which will all flourish in autumn’s conditions. For all you herby folk coriander, fennel, garlic, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme will love the slightly cooler temperatures and increased rainfall.
Perhaps you’ll miss summer dreadfully; maybe you cannot wait for the autumn breeze and cosier nights, whatever your preference let food help you to embrace the change in season and enjoy what nature has to offer us. In Australia, we can be sure it will be plentiful, soul-nourishing and rich in variety.