What to eat in autumn? Healthy seasonal products
Autumn seasonal fruits
Generally speaking, no one needs to be reminded to eat apples and pears in autumn. September and October are the months when they are the cheapest and tastiest. It is worth eating them raw and treating them as a snack, but they will also be a great addition to meals: they will work well in protein pancakes, oatmeal or salads.
An autumn menu would not be complete without plums: common plums, greengages, or the underestimated mirabelles – all are healthy and full of valuable antioxidants. The darker they are, the healthier, because they contain more priceless anthocyanins – colourful compounds that protect cells from damage. They have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and even anti-cancer properties. Plums also have an excellent effect on the intestines and, due to their sorbitol content, have a slight laxative effect – so it is better not to eat too many.
Autumn is also a good time to include fresh figs in your diet – they are the best available and cheapest. They will take oatmeal, or even ordinary sandwiches, to a higher level of culinary experience. From a health perspective, figs are an excellent source of calcium.
An interesting fact: although figs are a fruit, they are not considered a 100% plant-based product by some vegans and vegetarians. Why’s that? They are naturally inhabited by small insects (chalcid wasps), which spark this controversy.
Grapes are another autumn fruit that one should be encouraged to eat. These are fruits relatively high in sugar, but if you don’t have glycemic problems, they are worth eating. Dark and purple varieties are particularly healthy. Their peels are a treasure trove of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer flavonoids.
In autumn, you should also take advantage of the season for fresh cranberries. Their harvest lasts from September to early November. Cranberries are edible raw, but because of their intense flavour, it’s easier to sneak them into your diet in a mildly processed form, such as in a smoothie, in mousse form or as a topping for autumn desserts. They can also be added to autumn infusions and teas to boost their health properties.
Other somewhat forgotten autumn fruits that are true Polish treasures are: wild rose, elderberry, bird cherry, barberry and sea buckthorn.
Most of them are hard to buy raw in an ordinary store or market, but you can pick them on your own and benefit from their priceless nutritional value. They grow all over the country. Look around while walking and try to incorporate them into dishes or make preserves from them. A good time to pick them is in early autumn. These are true Polish superfruits. They are particularly valuable because of their vitamin C and other antioxidant content, as well as their excellent effect on immunity.
Quince, or “Polish lemon”, is the indisputable queen of October. It is consumed especially in preserves and liqueurs, but it is really worth incorporating it into the autumn menu in a simpler form as well. Quince is too intense in flavour to be eaten like apples or pears, but you can use it, for example, as addition to tea, grill it and put it in an autumn salad, slice it thinly and put it on sandwiches, or add grated quince to oatmeal.
Autumn seasonal vegetables
The list of autumn seasonal vegetables is not very long, but they are all versatile and easy to incorporate into any menu, without the need for fancy recipes. Autumn vegetable classics include pumpkin, eggplant, late squash and zucchini, bell peppers, kale, pattypans, and various varieties of cabbage.
These multi-colour vegetables are true superfoods. They will easily provide a balanced diet. Enjoy them in the form of warming autumn soups, bake them, eat them raw in salads, or use them in one-pot dishes.
Autumn is also a good time to resolve to increase the consumption of legumes. Young legumes harvested at this time of year often have a milder effect on the digestive system. Remember that tolerance to legumes can be developed. Start with smaller ones, but eat regular portions and gradually increase them. Legumes are indeed extremely healthy. This is the favourite food of the healthy bacteria that populate the intestines.
Mushrooms – autumn treasure of the forest
Forest mushrooms are definitely worth introducing to the autumn menu not only for their taste. They are a valuable source of minerals and some vitamins (they even contain vitamin D2, which is rarely found in foods!). They have a neutral effect on glycemia, few calories, and make it easier to keep meals tasty. All edible mushrooms are worth eating: champignons, oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, ceps, boletes, slippery jacks... all have unique benefits and properties.
Read more about the benefits of mushrooms in the diet of active people.
Autumn – the season for nuts
Autumn is the perfect time to introduce a daily routine of eating nuts. 30 grams a day is a portion small enough not to ruin your budget, but large enough to provide real support for the body. Nuts, as well as a variety of seeds and grains, can be eaten as a snack or as an ingredient in dishes. In paste or sprinkle form, they will find their place in sweet and salty dishes.
Although nuts are available in stores all year round, autumn is a good time to stock up on those in shell – for shelling by yourself. Pulling nuts out of the shell allows you to train so-called mindful eating, to increase your focus on what you are eating – an important part of intuitive eating.
Healthy, balanced meals for autumn 2023 from a dietician
Triple pumpkin vegan risotto
Delicious and healthy autumn risotto with pumpkin in three forms: roasted, with pumpkin cream and aromatic pumpkin seed sprinkle.
Ingredients / 4 servings:
- 250 g of rice,
- 400 g of roasted pumpkin,
- 5 cloves of garlic,
- 30 ml of olive oil,
- approx. 1 l of vegetable stock,
- 150 g of cooked beans (e.g. young beans),
- 130 g of pumpkin seeds,
- half a lemon,
- 10 g of yeast flakes,
- spices: salt, hot pepper, smoked paprika, turmeric.
- Prepare the pumpkin cream: pour boiling water over the pumpkin seeds and set aside for 30 minutes. Drain the water.
- Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a powerful blender. Add a glass of water, the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of salt and the yeast flakes. Blend for a long time until the seeds are completely ground.
- Using gauze, carefully separate the liquid from the ground seeds. Save the liquid – pumpkin cream and pomace.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the rice and sauté until glazed.
- Add the stock in portions, stirring the contents of the pan frequently. When the rice is almost ready, start adding the pumpkin cream instead of the stock. Stir and wait for the rice to absorb the liquid.
- Season the finished risotto with turmeric and crushed garlic. Add the cooked beans.
- Place pumpkin seed pomace in a dry frying pan and sauté until dry. Season with smoked and hot paprika and salt. When the ground seeds are dry and roasted, they are ready.
- Serve the risotto with roasted pumpkin and an aromatic sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.
- Energy: 542 kcal.
- Protein: 18 g.
- Fat: 23 g.
- Carbohydrates: 69 g.
Lentil pancakes with autumn additions
Lentil pancakes are flexible, very versatile and have a lot of protein. It’s a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as well as a takeaway lunch. Combine them with any autumn toppings and serve sweet or savoury.
Ingredients / 2 servings:
- 180 g of red lentils,
- water (approx. 250 ml),
- 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil,
- a pinch of salt,
- suggested spices for the sweet version: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom,
- suggested spices for the savoury version: curry, turmeric, pepper, chilli, paprika, cumin.
- roasted peppers with feta,
- hummus with beetroot and black cumin seeds,
- cottage cheese and roasted pumpkin paste with cinnamon,
- grilled halloumi, fresh figs and walnuts,
- peanut butter and pear.
- Rinse the lentils under running water. Pour water over the lentils so that it reaches 1 cm above the surface of the grains. Leave to soak overnight (or at least 3 hours).
- Transfer the water with the lentils to a cup blender. Add the oil and blend until a smooth paste forms.
- Add a pinch of salt and spices of your choice.
- Fry pancakes of any size in a non-stick pan.
- Serve cold or warm with any autumn additions.
Macronutrients (in a serving of pancakes without additions):
- Energy: 405 kcal.
- Protein: 22 g.
- Fat: 10 g.
- Carbohydrates: 57 g.
Autumn oatmeal with spicy plums
This recipe is the definition of autumn breakfast comfort food in a healthy version. To reduce its calorie content (and, for example, to adapt the oatmeal to a weight loss diet), simply omit the peanut butter; a serving of oatmeal will then provide only 533 kcal.
Ingredients / 1 serving:
- 70 g of oat flakes,
- approx. 150 ml of milk (1.5%) or plant-based drink (e.g. soy),
- 20 g of peanut butter (e.g. from cashew nuts),
- a pinch of salt,
- 150 g of common plums,
- 5 g of rapeseed oil,
- spices: pinch of cinnamon, pinch of cardamom, pinch of cloves, pinch of pepper,
- a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey,
- 75 g of vanilla flavoured skyr yoghurt.
- Pour milk or plant-based drink over the oat flakes for the night. In the morning, heat them in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Stir until the desired texture is achieved.
- Towards the end of cooking the oat flakes, add the peanut butter and mix thoroughly.
- Take the seeds out of the plums and cut them into halves or quarters.
- In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the spices. Roast the spices for a few seconds, then add the plums and maple syrup or honey.
- Sauté until plum skin softens and caramelises.
- Layer the hot oatmeal, vanilla yoghurt and caramelised plums in a bowl.
- Energy: 645 kcal.
- Protein: 28 g.
- Fat: 22 g.
- Carbohydrates: 81 g.
Crispy mashed potatoes with tofu crackling and mushroom sauce
Ingredients / 2 servings:
- 700 g of medium-sized potatoes,
- 400 g of any mushrooms,
- spices: salt, herb pepper, rosemary, turmeric,
- 180 g of smoked tofu,
- 40 ml of olive oil,
- 200 ml of 12% cream,
- 1 bunch of dill,
- 30 g of Parmesan cheese.
- Wash the potatoes and boil them (whole, with skin) for about 20 minutes in salted water. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Line a baking tray with paper and place the cooked potatoes on it. Mash each potato firmly with a glass.
- Season 15 ml of olive oil with salt and herb pepper. Brush the potatoes with the spice mixture.
- Bake in an oven preheated to 240 degrees for about 30-45 minutes until the potatoes are browned. 10 minutes before the end of baking, sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese.
- Clean the mushrooms and cut them into smaller pieces. Chop up the onion.
- In a teaspoon of olive oil, fry the onions and add the mushrooms. Season with rosemary and turmeric. Sauté for a while, then add the cream. Simmer for a few minutes, and towards the end of making the sauce, add the chopped dill and season with salt.
- Cut the tofu finely. In a teaspoon of olive oil, fry the tofu until browned.
- Serve the baked mashed potatoes with tofu crackling and mushroom and dill sauce.
- Energy: 802 kcal.
- Protein: 31 g.
- Fat: 37 g.
- Carbohydrates: 77.5 g.