Autumn – Dietician’s Ideas for Healthy Seasonal Meals

In autumn, your body needs special support from a healthy diet. Seasonal products will boost your immunity and strengthen the body. Pumpkin, pears and apples are not the only ones worth eating in autumn. In this article, I suggest how to easily compose valuable meals using autumn ingredients, which are healthiest and cheapest in September, October and November.

Anna Urbańska

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.