Seasonal eating: fall comfort food
Nature gives us certain foods during each season to help our bodies remain in balance. Building a lifestyle around seasonal eating facilitates the body’s natural healing process.
For example, apples grow in the fall and are provided to help the body rid itself of excess heat from summer. In the spring, we have dark, leafy greens that help us alkalize, detox, and shed our winter weight. In the summer, our bodies need to stay hydrated and cool, so we’re gifted with fresh fruit, berries, watermelon, and cucumbers.
Eating seasonally helps us learn to stay in-tune with what our bodies naturally crave and need at different times of the year. Not only is this great for our health, as we are provided with nutrients that are readily available according to nature’s cycles, but eating seasonally also helps us have variety in our diets to avoid developing food intolerances and allergies. Plus, seasonal food is more likely to be locally-produced, which reduces our impact on the environment.
In the fall, we naturally crave warm, comfort food. With this season’s cooling temperatures. I recommend upping your intake of root vegetables, such as squash, beets, and yams, as well as warming spices like ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, and black pepper.
This simple recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe is a great fall staple. I recommend making a big batch and storing extra portions in the freezer for an easy meal during the week. Vegetarians, simply swap the chicken and chicken stock black beans/ chickpeas and veggie stock.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts (or black beans/ chickpeas)
1 can (14-oz) petite or regular diced tomatoes
3 cups chopped butternut squash (about 1 medium squash, peeled and seeded)
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 cups chopped fresh spinach
In a large four-quart pot, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the chopped onions, oregano, and garlic. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring often and until the onion has softened. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and boil until the chicken is cooked, 7-9 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add the tomatoes, butternut squash, and quinoa. Simmer for 15 minutes until the squash is tender and quinoa is cooked. If desired, scoop out some of the squash, mash it and return it to the pot. Shred the cooked chicken and return to the pot. Add the salt and pepper, adding more salt to taste, if needed. Stir in the spinach. Cook 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Serve warm.