The Benefits of Seasonal Eating and Autumn Harvest Recipes

Introduction

Globalization has allowed us to access a variety of fruits and vegetables from around the world, no matter the season. While there are benefits to being able to enjoy fresh berries in the middle of winter, we need to consider the potential consequences of the systems that make it possible. In this blog we will also explore an alternate approach – seasonal eating – and the benefits it provides. Lastly, please enjoy the three easy autumn recipes that we have developed, each featuring a seasonal autumn ingredient and other whole foods.

Consequences of the Globalization of Food

In order for us to have access to a large variety of fruits and vegetables year-round, produce has be to grown somewhere else in the world where it’s in-season and then be transported over long distances to meet global demand. This long-distance travel not only has a high carbon footprint, it also requires the use of post-harvest treatments to keep our produce “fresh.” These treatments include chemicals, gases, heat processing, and even edible coatings

These processes minimize spoilage and protect the produce from contamination on its long journey from the field to the grocery store. This ultimately allows food to be produced in mass to meet global demand, but these food systems are often set up to prioritize increasing yield, with a lesser interest in nutritional quality.

 

What is Seasonal Eating?

If you’ve ever picked a fresh cherry tomato off the vine, or an apple right from the trees of your local orchard, you’ve likely already experienced the benefits of eating local, freshly-ripened produce. We may not understand why this food tastes better, but most of us can agree that it just does. Not only does seasonal produce taste better, research has shown that the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables varies according to season, climate, and level of ripeness. For example, a study measuring the nutritional quality of broccoli found that broccoli grown in-season in autumn had almost twice the amount of vitamin C as broccoli grown out-of-season in the spring.

If you want to start eating more seasonally, there are a lot of ways to get started. One of the easiest ways is to continue visiting your favorite grocery store, but before you go, be conscious of which foods are in season. You can use an online tool like this, rent a book at the library, or talk to friends and family to learn more about seasonal produce. Some other great ways to start eating more seasonally include starting your own garden, visiting your local farmers’ market, and/or joining a CSA program. If you’re looking for more out-of-the-box inspiration, check out these Foodie Dice that provide inspiration for creating simple, seasonal meals. 

Eating seasonally reduces the demand for out-of-season produce, while simultaneously supporting local farmers. It is also more sustainable for the planet and your body. It’s important to note that it’s not always possible to eat 100% seasonally. If eating seasonally gets in the way of properly nourishing your body due to lack of accessibility, be sure to always put your health first. Seasonal eating is a journey, and we encourage you to take a couple of small steps in this direction to create sustainable habits. One easy way to start is by choosing a seasonal fruit or vegetable and then creating a meal around it. Enjoy these three simple, autumn-inspired recipes that we developed.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

This recipe features butternut squash as the main ingredient. Winter squash have been eaten for over 10,000 years, originating in the North and South America. In fact, the word “squash” comes from the Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.” This meaning applies in the case of summer squash, but cooked winter squash was also a staple in the Native American diet. Butternut squash provides important nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. This winter squash also provides our bodies with the nourishment we need to prepare for a cold winter. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon each of freshly chopped sage, rosemary and thyme
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta of choice, cooked according to package instructions

Directions:

On a baking sheet combine the butternut squash, garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil Roast at 400°F for 30-40 minutes until squash is tender, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, sauté the onion and mushrooms in a skillet with olive oil until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have cooked down. When the squash is finished roasting, let it cool slightly and then blend with the milk in a blender or food processor until it forms a smooth and creamy sauce. Combine the cooked pasta, sauce, mushrooms and onions

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Arugula Autumn Harvest Salad

This salad features arugula, which thrives in the cool autumn weather. Arugula is full of powerful antioxidants, compounds that protect your cells against free radicals and thereby limit your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Arugula is delicious raw, packing a peppery punch that adds a slightly spicy flavor to fresh salads. 

Ingredients:

Salad:
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • ½ of a honeycrisp apple
  • ½ an avocado
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • sprinkle of pecans, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cranberries
Dressing (makes enough for some leftover)
  • -¼ cup olive oil
  • -¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • -1 tablespoon mustard
  • -2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • -salt and pepper to taste
  • -sprinkle of chopped fresh thyme and sage leaves (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, apple, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until combined.Pour the dressing over the salad and top with pecans, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries. Serve fresh and enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

Pumpkin is another winter squash native to North America. Pumpkins were easy to grow, and their versatility and storability played a major role in helping Native Americans survive long, harsh winters. The flesh was roasted, seeds were used as medicine, and the dried outer shells were repurposed as water vessels and bowls. Historians believe that the first “pumpkin pies” were made by hollowing out pumpkins, filling them with milk, honey and spices and then placing them to roast over hot ashes. Over time this native fruit has become so popular that it’s not really fall without pumpkins. Enjoy this easy, pumpkin pie inspired breakfast recipe!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • pecans (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a jar and stir or shake to combine. Cover securely with a life and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, open your oats and top with pecans if you wish. 

Serve cold and enjoy! 

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