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Autumn is slowly sneaking up on us, with a slight chill creeping into the air and the trees preparing to create a multi-coloured wonderland of autumn leaves. Along with the change of the season comes a change in the delicious meals we can cook up and the seasonal fruit and vegetables available to us.
Eating seasonally has many benefits, from a lower carbon footprint to eating a diet that supports your body’s nutritional needs for each season. Seasonal produce has far more flavour and is of better quality as it is naturally ripened in weather conditions which perfectly suit the plant. This perfect, natural ripening process means that artificial ripening in hot houses or long periods of chilling, both of which leach nutrients and flavour from the fruit and vegetables, are avoided. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are also locally sourced and, as they are ripened naturally, a lot cheaper to purchase due to lower overall production costs such as transportation, refrigeration, hot houses, and irradiation. Growing your fruit and veg can also be greatly rewarding and will help you tune -in to what’s grown seasonally.
Autumn welcomes in some beautifully rich fresh foods full of vitamins to keep our immune systems up as winter approaches.
From March to May, these are the fresh produce items to look out for:
Apples, bananas, plums, gooseberries, granadillas, grapefruit, avocado, figs, lemons, mangoes, naartjies, oranges, pawpaws, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, quinces, sweet melon, watermelon.
Artichokes, aubergines, baby marrows, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chives, cucumber, kale, leeks, mange, tout, mushrooms, onions, parsley, peas, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, sweet peppers, squashes (gems, butternut, acorn), turnips, zucchini.
Autumn cooking is all about roast, stews, bakes and magnificent autumn salads bursting with colour. Think short ribs and plums roasted in the oven to perfection, wholesome quiches filled with leeks and rich cheeses, warm pumpkin bread, and chorizo and chickpea stew cooked with sweet peppers. However, one of the best ways to get a full taste of everything autumn has to offer is to create a Buddha bowl. Buddha bowls are a vegetarian version of a poke bowl – basically a bowl or high-rimmed plate which consists of portions of different fresh foods. Buddha bowls normally contain a grain such as quinoa or brown rice, a plant protein such as chickpeas or tofu, and fresh fruit and veg. All items in the bowl are arranged in such a way as to create a feast for your eyes as well as your tastebuds.
However, if autumn recipes are more your thing, then here are a few delicious ideas: