Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Appetite for Autumn

DISCLAIMER: I’m writing this wearing flip flops. My accuweather is set to a place just south of the equator. There’s a beach towel in my car. I’m still (guiltlessly) pinning BBQ recipes on Pinterest. Even so, I am ready to at least talk about Autumn foods (after all, that is my job).

Perhaps a recent flip of the calendar and a gentle drop in the thermometer has reminded you that it’s time to transition from the hassle-free and spontaneous raw meals of summer to the grounding and planned dishes autumn warrants. Despite claiming that we enjoy this season of change and appreciate the opportunity to readopt routines and schedules, most likely we will get lost in our obligations, stretch the limits of our clothing seams, let the darkness of the early setting sun bury our guilt for abandoning the gym, and then collectively and excitedly gear up for fabulous health resolutions when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Kidding. In all seriousness, I hope you can utilize the following tips and suggestions for transitioning to fall foods while successfully avoiding the seamstress.

Fall Favorites

Yes, this vegetable has more to offer than serving as a medium for displaying your fine carving skills. The flesh is an excellent source of vitamin A, and significant source of vitamin C and potassium. Dr. Oz may have already told you that the seeds encased in this Cinderella superstar are on his “5 Super Foods” List thanks to their magnesium content. I could write a blog on magnesium, but much easier to simply direct those that are interested to this site here

Serving Suggestions:

§          Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
            Remove stem with knife, cut off top (3-4”) of pumpkin and scoop out insides with spoon. Separate seeds from pumpkin flesh and strings by placing in large bowl of water and rubbing seeds between hands and then placing in strainer and running under water until clean. One medium size pumpkin should yield approximately 2 cup of seeds. Drain well and pat dry. Place in large bowl and add seasoning (see suggestion list below) and stir to coat. Spread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake up to an hour in preheated 250F oven, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
            Spice suggestions (for approximately 2 cups seeds):
o       1 TBS vegetable/olive/peanut oil, 1 tsp salt
o       1-2 TBS Soy sauce/tamari
o       1 TBS vegetable/peanut oil, ¼ tsp each of salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and pinch of cayenne         
o       1 TBS vegetable/olive/peanut oil, ½ tsp each garlic salt, cumin, coriander, cardamom
o       1 TBS vegetable/olive/peanut oil , 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and 1 ½ TBS brown sugar
o       1 TBS vegetable/olive/peanut oil, rosemary, basil to taste         

§          Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
    I encourage you to try using pureed pumpkin in places beyond the inside of the all too predictable pie crust. Try this festive recipe from Whole Paycheck

As the temperature drops, days become shorter and the to-do list balloons, it’s a bright idea to begin featuring warming, fiber filled, grounding foods on the table. A wonderful transitional vehicle that invites the light, fresh vegetables of summer to marry with the dense root veggies, legumes and warming spices is soup. I automatically think utterly forgiving and unarguably one of the most versatile and limitless possibilities when I excitedly grab for that soup pot. I encourage you to get creative and ditch the recipe and instead fearlessly use your favorite vegetables of summer and fall, or simply utilize what’s already in your fridge.

General Tips for Building A Soup
1)     Marinate aromatic vegetables such as onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and ginger in olive oil or butter
2)     Add salt, pepper and dried spices (Bay leaves, oregano, thyme).
3)     If non-vegetarian, brown meat now. 
4)     Add the liquid base (vegetable/chicken/beef broth, water, wine (oops can I say that?), cream.
5)     Get creative.
Add longest cooking vegetables first (think root vegetables such as potatoes, yams). Lastly add delicate vegetables such as spinach. Always add tomatoes at the very end as the hault the cooking process. Cooked legumes and grains can be added at the end to bring to desired temperature.  Add fresh herbs once the heat is off.

Like to follow directions? Check some of my favorite recipe indexes out!


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