As the cold begins to approach, it becomes easier to indulge in heavier foods. With the summery days of salads behind us, the cooler months beckon with soups, pies and stews. But with those hunger pangs also comes the risk of weight gain, which is especially easy to do during this time of year. Which is where we want to take a different tack: how can you stay healthy as the temperature (and often our enthusiasm for cooking and staying fit) starts to drop?
With the change of season also comes a shifting of appetite and what’s available in our supermarkets. Fresh pumpkins, parsnips, yams, sweet potatoes, winter squash, apples, pears, figs, cranberries, elderberries…the list of delicious autumn foods goes on and on! It’s important that you do change up your diet as the seasons change because the different periods of light and dark that occur, according to Dr. Mike Russell, “have profound effects on our circadian rhythms. In fact, research shows that we have entire groups of genes that are impacted by circadian rhythms and many of these genes can impact body weight (causing either loss or gain) and hormones such as adiponectin, which increases insulin sensitivity and fat burning.”
According to psychologytoday.com, “circadian rhythms are produced by natural factors within the body, but are primarily driven by exposure to light.” In the summertime there is plenty of light and sun that we are exposed to, but in the winter there is considerably less. With less light, the body tells us that we need to start storing fat to prepare ourselves for the winter, and effectively start boosting its insulin resistance. This is a trait that is commonly known amongst animals such as bears, but not so often thought of in humans.
What does this mean in terms of what you can eat? Anything from creamy pumpkin soup, roasted vegetables, crispy apple pies, and baked sweet potatoes are all options on the menu. You can try making our very own Simplest Pumpkin Soup recipe (pictured below), or perhaps you might want to whip up our Scalloped Potatoes dish, which is perfect for a crowd.
Autumn is a lovely season full of rich, warm colours, and this is not just exclusive to the scenery! Think of rich reds, deep greens, dark yellows, and brilliant oranges. One rule of thumb to remember is that the more colourful a fruit is, the better it is for your health and immune system. The kinds of fruits and vegetables which are ideal for this include apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, eggplants, pears, beetroots, cranberries, pomegranates, carrots, oranges, blackberries and even passionfruit.
Fruits like apples and pears are at their peak during this time of year, rich in vitamin C and dietary fibre. The skin is where it is especially packed full of vitamins, so be sure to eat this! For greener varieties of food, spinach is a great source of iron and vitamin C, and is very versatile. It can be added to anything including this sumptuous soup of Tess Masters’ Vegan Cream of Spinach Soup recipe (pictured below).
Or perhaps this delicious Ricotta and Spinach Lasagna dish is a bit more to your taste.
The most recognisable of autumn foods, however, are undoubtedly pumpkin and squash. And the great part is that there are so many delicious dishes you can make with both of them! With anything from our Squash Mac & Cheese recipe (pictured below) to the Creamy Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, there are plenty of options to choose from to make sure that you keep your menu interesting.
The beauty of veggies is that they are nutrient-dense and high in fibre. This means that you can be creative with how you apply them; for example, you can replace a typically heavy cream-based pasta dish with zucchini noodles and a creamy avocado sauce.
Protein is also important to any healthy diet as it helps to control blood sugar levels and appetite. Particularly in the cooler months, this becomes even more crucial where our appetites become increasingly demanding. For each meal, ideally try to include a serving of protein such as eggs, legumes, nuts/seeds, lean meat, tofu or dairy.
Next up, make fibre a priority. The best thing about fibre is that it has a satiating effect, which helps us to control our food intake. That means for example, that if you have an intake of approximately 30g of daily fibre, this will help curb feelings of a rumbling stomach and keep you fuller for longer. A way to achieve this is to ensure you start the day with a good breakfast that has enough fibre in it to keep you going, such as whole oat porridge and fresh fruit.
Last but most certainly not least, be aware of the salt content of food! Warm comfort foods can very often be laden with poor quality salt without us even realising. Our Stock products, Bouillons and Seasonings are salt-reduced, healthier options for you to use in your meals so you can watch your sodium intake while being confident that you are not compromising on flavour. You can find our full product list here for reference. Try them out in your next meal and you’ll see just how much of a kick of taste is packed in each of these little beauties!
That’s all for now! How are you preparing for the coming autumn and winter seasons? Tell us about it on our Facebook page and don’t forget to share with us any delectable meals that you’ve made with Massel.