healthy-autumn

Autumn is well under way, the leaves are changing, the evenings are darker and the weather is decidedly chilly. Now is the perfect time for snuggling up, all warm and cosy indoors with some comforting food. Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy though! In fact, the wonderful array of foods in season at the moment are just right for cooking delicious, healthy and comforting meals. This week is therefore all about some of the healthy foods that autumn has to offer and some delicious, healthy recipe ideas to use them in.

Figs

Figs are an amazing fruit in season now – they are great for breakfast, healthy deserts and are also wonderful in salads. Their beautiful jewel coloured flesh not only looks gorgeous on your plate, but is a sign of their high nutrient value. Deeply coloured fruit and vegetables in general (think beetroot, blueberries, plums, kale etc.), are richer in beneficial plant compounds, and figs are no exception. They are an excellent source of antioxidants, to protect your skin against ageing and are rich in minerals potassium, manganese and iron, along with vitamins A, B and C. They also provide a good amount of fibre.

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Figs do not ripen after picking so avoid unripe figs. Choose figs that are dark in colour, plump and soft but with unbroken skins.

fig-porridge2

Recipe:

Fig and Chocolate Porridge

2 servings

  • 80g porridge oats
  • 2 dried figs, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 400ml almond milk
  • 6 small squares 80% dark chocolate or raw chocolate, chopped
  • 2 or 3 fresh figs, chopped
  1. Put first 5 ingredients into a pan and cook until you have a nice creamy porridge, adding water as necessary. I like to cook the porridge for at least 10 mins so it is extra creamy.
  2. Remove from heat and stir through the chocolate, top with fresh figs and serve immediately.

Beetroot

Beetroot is another richly coloured vegetable with corresponding health boosting powers. It is high in beta-carotene, folic acid and fibre and regular consumption can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular consumption of beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve the health of blood vessels, both predictors of stroke and heart attacks. Beetroot juice also helps people to acclimatise to high altitudes so if you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu or Mount Everest, get drinking!

Most of us are used to pre-cooked beetroots, but buying fresh beetroot is a different thing altogether and worth the extra effort. Beetroot can be boiled in their skin, is delicious roasted in the oven, and it makes a cleansing juice ingredient. Wear rubber gloves when preparing beetroot to avoid pink-stained hands!

beetroot

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Don’t throw away the leaves, beetroot greens are a rich source of iron, magnesium and calcium. They can be cooked and eaten in the same way as spinach

Artichokes

Artichokes are a wonderful vegetable available at this time of year, with many health benefits. French or Globe artichokes are a super source of vitamin c, folic acid, potassium and fibre. They work especially well in salads and pasta.

Artichokes leaves are used medicinally for digestion, stimulating liver function and bile flow, helping to relieve indigestion and bloating. Some of these benefits may also be present in the vegetables.

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When choosing, the heavier ones are fresher due to their higher water content and the leaves should be tightly shut.

artichokes

 

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichokes are not actually related to French artichokes, but they are both in season now and have many of their own health benefits. Jerusalem artichoke is one of the best pre-biotic foods, feeding the good bacteria in your gut, encouraging them to multiply and promoting intestinal and general health. For further information on the benefits of prebiotics click here. They also contain vitamin C, potassium and iron. They can be cooked many ways; roasted, steamed, sautéed or boiled, and can even be eaten raw in salads.

jerusalem-artichoke

Kale

A well know ‘superfood’ kale has become popular in the last few years and rightly so as it is nutritionally rich. It has a high mineral content, providing iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It is a good source of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, as well as being rich in protective plant chemicals such as sulphoraphane, which may protect against cancer.

Kale can be tough, so preparing it well is key to enjoying it – unlike other vegetables it is nicer when soft, than ‘al dente’.  As a vegetable side dish, steam the kale until soft and then sauté in a little oil with chilli and garlic. Kale also works well in many recipes, as a substitute for cabbage or spinach.

Recipe:

Kale Pesto

4 servings

  • 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 large handfuls of kale, blanched
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp pink salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Place everything in a food processor
  2. Blitz till it forms a nice paste, add water to thin if necessary.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning
  4. Serve tossed into courgetti or spelt spaghetti, topped with toasted walnuts or pine nuts and slow-roasted cherry tomatoes
  5. Keeps in the fridge for a few days and freezes well

kale-pesto

Blackberries

Berries are high flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that protects the body and skin against free radical damage and aging. Berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C – 1 cup provides more than 100% RDA. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant itself, protecting cells from free radical damage. Berries also contain less natural fruit sugar than other fruits.

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Include a serving of fresh berries every day.

Blackberry-Pear-and-Pecan-Bircher

Recipe:

Blackberry, Pear and Pecan Bircher

2 servings

  • 1 pear, cored and chopped
  • A handful of blackberries
  • 150ml almond milk
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 20g pecan nuts, chopped
  • Maple syrup (optional)
  1. Put the oats, cinnamon and almond milk in a bowl, mix well and leave in the fridge overnight
  2. Top with pear, blackberries, pecans and drizzle of maple syrup the next day and enjoy!

Orange vegetables

Orange vegetables such as butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are all in season now. They contain particularly high levels of beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which give them their lovely colour. Beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A, an essential nutrient for healthy skin and eyes and for the immune system. Beta-carotene itself also helps to prevent free radical damage, as it has powerful antioxidant effects. Orange veg also provide vitamin C, for boosting collagen production, vitamin E and a host of protective plant compounds. Just 100g of sweet potato provides the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and is a great source of slow-releasing, healthy carbohydrates.

Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are both delicious baked and mashed with a grating of nutmeg as a warming side dish. They are also wonderful cubed and roasted in salads.

Recipe:

Superfood Frittata

Makes 1 large frittata, or 4 portions

  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into small cubes,
  • 2 handfuls of kale, woody stalks removed
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 6 eggs
  1. Toss the sweet potato in 1tsp oil and roast in the oven 20 mins or until soft. Allow to cool completely
  2. Meanwhile, steam kale until soft about 10-15 mins, and roughly chop. Allow to cool completely
  3. Stir-fry onions, garlic and chilli for about 5 mins. Allow to cool completely
  4. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl add 2 tbsp chopped parsley and all the vegetables, once they have completely cooled.
  5.  Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook 5 mins or so in a non-stick pan and then place under the grill to cook the top.
  7. Keeps in the fridge for 2 days, makes a great portable lunch.

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How to choose a butternut squash. The skin should be very tough and hard, if you can push your fingernail into the rind it is unripe and will be low on flavour. It should feel heavy, due to the high water content and generally the bigger they are the more flavour they will have.

frittata

Recipe:

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

2 servings

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1.5 tsp vegetable bouillon or 1 veg stock cube
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  1. Peel and cube the squash, toss in 1tsp oil and roast at 180°C until soft (approx 30 mins)
  2. Put in a blender with the other ingredients except the seeds and blend until smooth
  3. Toast seeds in a pan and sprinkle on top

woman-eating-butternut-soup

Beauty & Go drinks contain plenty of great autumnal fruits and vegetables to feed your skin, including artichoke (Skin Detox), grapes and berries (Skin Revive), pear (Skin Brilliance) and apples (Skin Vitality). Include one to three per day as part of your autumn health and beauty regime.

 

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