Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here comes Autumn!

I really love the Autumn, especially because it is such a rich and colourful time of year. Suddenly all the greeness of the summer is replaced by an explosion of bright yellows, oranges and reds, bringing to our attention the multitude of different trees and plants that surround us. We are rewarded with nuts and fruits and huge orange pumpkins and multi coloured squashes, all of which provide us with highly nutritious foods and a multitude of winter warming recipes. We should look no further than our immediate environment and therein find all the foods that we need to nourish our bodies. We have everything we need in the fruits and vegetables that we grow and in the animals that we rear and if you are a vegetarian, you can fill your pot of wellness with beans and nuts and seeds. No need to ever go to a supermarket again right? Eliminating processed and packaged foods from your diets will do more for your health and longevity than you can ever imagine. Eating seasonal produce and produce that is grown locally will eliminate many of the pesticides that our fruit and veg are doused with in order to survive the journey from far away lands. I really don't want to eat strawberries in the winter and neither do I want to eat oranges in the summer, I love to wait for that time of year when the produce is grown and ripened on the tree and picked hours before it is consumed. Growing up in the Canary Islands, I had access to tree ripened avocadoes, papayas, bananas, mangoes and many more tropical fruits which I consumed in abundance. Nothing I could buy in the supermarket here in Switzerland will ever taste the way those fruits tasted and when I see a papaya sitting on the supermarket shelf here, it looks so sad and so far away from home that I feel sorry for it!! I do buy mangoes and avocadoes because I love them even though I know deep down that they have far less nutrition than they should , however, their waxy skins do protect their flesh from the pesticides that are used to prevent their pre-mature decay.

So here we are entering the early days of autumn and I am surrounded by orchards of apples, pears, plums, grapes and bulging squashes and my mind is full of ideas for healthy and nutritious meals. Bright orange soups and hot spiced fruit compotes aswell as heart warming stews and winter salads. Pumpkins are so much more than an excuse for a Halloween lantern as they make amazing anti-oxidant rich soups and their seeds are little gems of medicinal goodness. Pumpkin seeds are high in tryptophan which means they are useful in treating insomnia. They have also been found to help with rheumatoid arthritis, elevated blood lipids, kidney and bladder disorders as well as parasitic infestations. Research carried out in China found pumpkin seeds to be highly effective in eliminating tapeworm infestations. So much magic in such a tiny seed! Try making a delicious snack by roasting 2 cups of raw seeds mixed with a drizzle of oil and a touch of salt, and bake in the oven for around 45 minutes. And then there is pumpkin pie ofcourse, something our American friends are very fond of and something that I will have to learn to cook this year as I am now married to one!

If you are a meat eater, then you can also benefit from the new season game meat that will be coming into the butchers. Venison, wild boar and hare are all highly nutritous meats and low in fat and offer a great and healthy alternative to our usual beef, lamb and pork. They have a richer flavour and consistency which can be far more satisfying and flavoursome than our more traditional choices. Go to a good butchers and see what they have on offer and try something new and hopefully it will be locally caught and killed too. I was a vegetarian for many years and still have a hard time eating meat and only do so if I truely feel that my body is in need of some extra iron or protein and when that time comes, I will opt for bison or Wapiti/Venison steaks.

Eating well and eating foods that are in season now will strengthen your immune system and prepare you for the coming winter months when we are prone to sickness and colds. The shorter days and lack of sunshine will bring us down and deplete our bodies of vitamin D which in turn will leave us vulnerable to anything from bouts of depression to weakening bones. So stock up and fill your bodies with nutrient dense foods along with a supplement of Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 and get out in the fresh air as much as possible...just 20 minutes of sunshine a day will fill us with our daily dose of strength and will sure put a smile back on your face.

Well, that's all for now. Enjoy the changing season and indulge in what it has to offer you. Take care of nature and it will take care of you!

In health and happiness,

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