There is something really nice about autumn to me. Yes, agreed, if you live in a country like Ireland, you need to be prepared for 4 seasons every day. So: layers for when the sun comes out, sunglasses (see prior reason), all weather water-, wind-, sleeth-, proof jacket, which miraculously also is breathable and looks elegant, an umbrella for when you just got your hair done and you can't put up your hood (just pray there is no gale blowing at the time) and decent shoes.
I've been in Ireland for about a month now, it rained nearly every day and I think I have all of the above down to a T by now. Apart from what one time I went out for dinner, decided to glam up with a pair of heels, got caught in an October monsoon, and am now still suffering from blisters... The struggle is real.
Once you master the art of The Weather, autumn is a pretty awesome season! Walks in a forest, harvesting the last foods from the garden, stocking up the pantry for the winter, take time for endless cups of tea with friends, and reflect on your past year and plan your year ahead!
I love summer foods like salads and simple quick dishes, so I can run out the door again, off into the sunset.
But autumn is a time to nourish and add depth and flavour to your meals. Out come the spices and foods that take a little longer to cook. Here are my favourite foods I eat more of once summer is over...
1. Beetroot. This underrated root vegetable is awesome in salads. And as it is even better roasted, stewed or simply boiled, it's a great one to add in the winter. There is nitrate in beets, which helps with bringing oxygen into your blood. I love it roasted with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or in stews. Top tip to prevent staining anything but the kitchen sink red: boil them in their skin, and then use dishwashing gloves to rub the skin off.
2. Soups and stews. In the summer I would eat more broths, but come winter I'm doubling down on soups that can also serve as a meal. Often, I add a couple of handfuls of lentils, buckwheat, butterbeans, sweet potato. And then all the veg. This is also the time to get the slow cooker out and use cuts of meat that take longer to cook. And when I make a curry in the slow cooker, somehow I end up adding lots of different warming spices!
3. Spices. Spices can add so much depth and flavour to your dishes, and a lot of spices have health benefits as well! I often add cinnamon to beef stews, bay leaf and of course black pepper. When I make curry I really go wild! Star anise, kaffir lime leaf, kardamom, and of course turmeric! Sky's the limit here really!
4. Leeks. Not only is leek a great source of inulin and therefore a pre-biotic. (this means it helps creating the right environment for probiotic cultures to settle) it also brings back huge childhood memories for me. My mum used to bake a sort of leek and mince quiche and there was never enough when she made it! I've adapted the recipe a little to make it healthier, check out my sweet potato crusted leek tart recipe.
5. Pumpkin. Butternut squash is on the menu all year around. But there is something extra comforting about roasted pumpkin wedges, pumpkin and pea risotto, and pumpkin soup. Still getting used to sweet pumpkin things, recipes will follow! Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene, which helps with cell-renewal. Bonus when you eat any orange food: it helps to give your skin a lovely glow!