It’s official, Fall is here! We are shifting seasons from hot weather, to crisp, cool days. The days are getting shorter and it’s time to say goodbye to raw vegetables and summer fruits, and hello to cooked sweet potatoes, beets, and carrots. Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies nutrient requirements.
Root vegetables are grounding, warming foods. They bring warmth and comfort to the body, while raw foods bring energy and vitality. Of course there should be a balance of both, but in the autumn season, our bodies crave the healing properties that comes from root vegetables. They are loaded with magnesium and potassium – both important minerals to help manage stress in the body. Magnesium helps calm the nervous system while potassium helps regulate blood pressure and helps utilize the serotonin produced in your body (the happy neurotransmitter!)
As the weather gets colder, and darkness falls earlier, there really is such a thing such as Seasonal Affective Disorder. You may experience mild to sever symptoms such as depression (hopelessness, lack of interest), oversleeping, irritability, low energy, and changes in your weight and appetite. Root vegetables are complex carbohydrates, which actually improves the production of serotonin as it takes the body longer to break down the molecules, versus simple sugars that spike insulin, and thus won’t provide a sustainable serotonin release. Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, brown rice, and lentils are just a few foods you can add in this fall to promote better mental health.
Starchy vegetables consist of many nutrients that we are in need of such as B vitamins and rich in antioxidants. They provide the energy our bodies require during this transition to the colder climate. They are full of fiber, low in sugar, and the perfect vehicle to transport healthy fats into your diet, ensuring you absorb the nutrients that these colorful veggies come loaded with!
Root vegetables are far from boring too! From sweet potato pies to rosemary carrot fries, there are so many wonderful creations to add into your weekly lineup. You can even make these beautiful veggies the star of the show and create a root vegetarian plant based meal, such as roasted jicama or avocado yam toasts (personal favourite and popular amongst the millenials). There’s also herb and garlic roasts with root vegetables (think turnips, parsnips, & carrots), or spaghetti squash chicken noodle soup. It’s important to test out new recipes, as well as stick to traditional, comfort foods, such as Shepherd’s Pie.
Soups, stews, and chilis are great meals for the fall, as they take little time to prepare, and can cook all day in your crock pot while you’re at work, or would rather spend your time doing things you enjoy such as exercising or playing with the kiddos. Using bone broth as a base for your crock pot meal is a bonus superfood to add to the pot! Fall is the season where colds and flus thrive, so it’s important to consume foods that contain the immune boosting nutrients (bone broth, onions, garlic) during this time of year. On a side note: bone broth helps seal the gut, where 90% of your serotonin is produced, which will also enhance your mental health!
And what is Fall without apple cinnamon muffins and pumpkin spiced tea? The flavours of cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, and all-spice, wafting through your house are so therapeutic for your soul, and is perfect for winding down at the end of the night.
As always, eat an assortment of different foods everyday to get as many nutrients as possible, focus on moving your body naturally and getting adequate sleep, and be mindful and generous with your thoughts.
Here are a few of my favourite fall time meals that are great to enjoy with your loved ones, or eat on the go.
Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin pan with oil of choice. Combine your dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, applesauce, butter, and vanilla. Mix dry and wet ingredients together. Add chopped nuts. Spoonful into muffin pan. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Let cool for a few mins, and enjoy. Yields 8.
Yam Cottage Pie