What’s in Season: The Autumn Round-up

So Autumn, summer sadly ends (too soon!) and the days get shorter and colder and it starts to rain every time you leave the house for a run (anyone else find that?). But there are good things too, the falling leaves are beautiful with their orange, yellow and red hues and there isn’t much to hate about getting to wear those snuggly warm knits again… and the there’s all the seasonal produce! Here I have compiled my favourite picks of the season and some ways to use them.

What are your favourite things about this time of year?

 

IMG_3622Figs

In season late summer to early autumn, these are best eaten fresh off the tree. If you don’t have a fig tree they are also a lot cheaper to buy in shops at this time. Figs are a great source of natural sugars and fibre.

How to use: the skin and seeds are edible, add to your breakfast bowls, serve roasted as a dessert (cut in half, drizzle with a little maple/honey and vanilla, cover with foil), serve in salads or add to muffins.

 

 

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Walnuts

If you have ever tried freshly cracked walnuts, you will know that they are nothing like the scuffed, musty old ones you buy from the shops. Walnuts start falling off the tree late summer, they can be cracked and eaten fresh as is or stored in dry conditions for a few months. Walnuts not only taste delicious, they are also really good for you! Walnuts contain monounsaturated fats (the good fats), which is great for your heart health. They are also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which may decrease inflammation and are also great for your brain.

How to use: sprinkle over your breakfasts, add to salads (really good in coleslaw) and baked goods. I love adding walnuts to smoothies to get a great nutty/earthy flavour.

 

Chestnuts

I hadn’t tasted these strange nuts until a few years ago, they are not as crunchy as other nuts and have a softer, starchier texture. It takes a little effort to cook and peel these nuts but the end result is worth it. You can boil, microwave, deep fry or roast these (I have given instructions on how to roast them below, for the other methods, check out Stephanie Alexander’s book The Cook’s Companion). Dearna from To Her Core has also written a post on how to cook chestnuts in a cast iron skillet.

How to Roast: make a slit in the hard outer shell of the chestnut and roast in a 180C oven for 20 minutes or until the slits have opened. Remove from the oven and wrap in a tea towel for a few minutes, or until not too hot to touch. Peel away the hard outer shell and the soft inner skin (important to do this while they are still hot or the job will be a lot harder). Sprinkle with salt and enjoy.

How to use: Chestnuts must be cooked before eating. Great eaten freshly roasted on their own, are great sautéed with olive oil and Brussels sprouts, added to braised apple and cabbage, in a roasted vegetable salad or chestnut flour can be used in desserts.

 

Pink Lady Apples

You know the disappointment when you bite into a shiny, juicy looking apple only to find that its gross and fluffy inside? That shouldn’t happen in autumn. Apples are in season in Autumn and there really should be no excuse for fluffy apples! My favourites are pink lady apples, so crisp and slightly tart. Apples are a good source of a soluble fibre called pectin, this fibre is great for your gut health and may even help to lower cholesterol levels. Plus, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

How to use: Apples are great eaten fresh, roasted/sautéed or stewed up for pies and crumbles. I love cooking grated/chopped apple into porridge or cooking it with red cabbage, onion and a little cider vinegar for a yummy side dish. For a fresh salad, combine thinly sliced apple with baby spinach or rocket, shaved Parmesan or pine nuts, a little salt and pepper and a cider vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette.

 

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Pumpkin

It takes all summer for pumpkins to grow, swell up in size and mature, by autumn they are ready to pick. We recently had a bumper crop of pumpkins, there is currently a dozen or so Queensland Blues sitting outside my window. If you store pumpkins in a cool, dry place they can last for months, good news because I love pumpkin (weirdly it was the only vegetable I hated as a child). Pumpkins are a great source of beta carotene (converted to vitamin A in the body) which is good for maintaining healthy vision, skin and bones. Pumpkins are also a good source of fibre.

How to use: just about everything is good with pumpkin (especially if it’s roasted!). Slice (leave the skin on) and roast with a drizzle of olive oil, serve roasted in salads, make into soup, turn pumpkin puree into pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie pancakes, substitute for sweet potato to make brownies, slice small pumpkins in half and stuff.. end less possibilities.

 

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Hot chocolate

Haha ok I know this isn’t really in season, luckily hot chocolate can be consumed all year round. What could be more comforting to drink when its cold and blustering outside? Make your own with a teaspoon of cacao powder and 1-2 teaspoons stevia/honey dissolved in a little hot water then topped with your favourite milk. If you like the convenience of a pre-mix, my favourites are Koco hot chocolate (sweetened with coconut sugar) or Du Chocolate (made with Stevia).

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