Fall is a time of cooling the body off and getting ready for the dry, cold air of winter. Your body feelings, and the temperature outside, are indicators that you should transition to a different diet with the weather. Learn how to eat optimally in the fall and winter, and plus, how to avoid indulging in fatty foods, by nourishing with some delicious plant based options.
As we get back into a routine and heading towards colder winter, we look to foods for renewal, recharging, and rebalancing. We naturally start craving heartier, more warming foods. We might move from grilling outdoors to roasting and baking in the oven, or adding in those starchier fruits, green veggies, and hearty grains into our meals.
But, why is it necessary to shift our diets in the autumn-winter season? what does these seasons offer us in terms of naturally available nutrients? Keep reading to find out the answers, and plus get some AMAZINGLY delicious plant-based meal ideas for the fall and winter months.
Find in this article:
1. Why do you need to change your diet during the autumn-winter season?
2. What kinds of food should you eat in the Fall and Winter?
Why do you need to change your diet during the autumn-winter season?
When the autumn-winter season arrives, we should think about changing our diet, just as we change our outfit selection. Why? Because our bodies need to get the nutrients necessary to go through the season change.
For instance, a diet based in light leafy salads in winter would be the equivalent of wearing a bikini when the temperatures are cold. Unless you live in a tropical country, the idea of wearing swimwear in winter doesn't make any sense. This is similar to eating light salads or fruits out of season.
Let's have a look at benefits of eating seasonally.
Benefit #1: Improved digestion
The health of your digestive system is fundamentally linked to your wellbeing. A sluggish gut can result in all sorts of symptoms, such as indigestion, heartburn, bloating and constipation.
Eating the season harvest, can give your body a helping hand to keep things moving smoothly. This is because, seasonal foods, especially those that are organic, provide microbes that support bodily functions required for each season. In the winter, for example, foods are denser and require stronger digestion than the leafy greens of spring. Microbes that support stronger digestion naturally propagate in the winter’s seasonal harvest.
Benefit #2: Increased energy
The fact is that the type and quantity of food you eat play an essential role in determining your energy levels during the day. Even though all foods give you energy, some foods contain nutrients that could help increase your energy levels and maintain your alertness and focus throughout the day. In this case, foods that are naturally occurring during the fall and winter contain the necessary nutrients to keep your energy at its highest.
Benefit #3: Improved Mood
What you eat actually plays a vital role in how you feel. So while chocolate ice cream might lift your mood for a moment, this rise is just temporary. While seasonal affective disorder affects many, it is found that a healthy diet and exercise can help ease symptoms. To encourage your feel-good hormones, add the seasonal mood-boosting foods to your shopping list and reap the happiness rewards.
What kind of food should we eat in autumn and winter?
As the temperatures drop, we need to nourish and warm the body from the inside. The ideal autumn-winter diet helps transition your body from summer's lighter intake to heartier winter fare.
Foods as raw vegetables, salads and cold drinks, can leave us feeling cold from the inside out, and more prone to falling ill. Therefore, the colder months are all about eating grounding and nourishing foods that are going to strengthen our immune system, boost our energy and leave us feeling well-all-round.
So much as in the fall and winter, as in other seasons, it's essential to eat seasonally and locally. The foods listed below are Fall and Winter happenings, and should therefore be a part of our diet.
The fall and winter harvest is made up of vibrant heirloom tomatoes and juicy peaches, as well as fruits like apples, pears, persimmon and quince; root veggies and squash, and dark leafy greens like rainbow chard and kale. Get inspired with the following food categories before your trip to the supermarket.
Root vegetables have long been enjoyed as a delicious part of a healthy diet. They are simply edible plants that grow underground. For this season, we find this great variety in the season harvest:
They are one of the most well-known root vegetables, and also one of the most nutritious. They are full of vitamins A and K, as well as the important antioxidants, as beta-carotene.
During the fall and winter, carrots are best eaten steamed, cooked, or used in stir-fries, stews or side dishes.
Squash & Pumpkins
The natural season of some varieties of squash and pumpkins runs from late summer to mid-winter, with some varieties available year-round. In general, winter squash have thick, tough shells that protect the sweet, rich flesh inside which makes them excellent storage vegetables.
No matter what variety of winter squash or pumpkin you choose, always pick squash that feels heavy for their size. One of the most popular in the winter season, is the butternut squash, a pale creamy beige and comes in an oblong shape with a rounded bottom. This vegetable is usually roasted and made into appetisers, snacks or light meals. It is recognised for its high content of vitamin, beta carotene, antioxidant, which protect from heart ailments and other chronic illnesses.
Enhance the buttery flavour of squash with brown sugar or cinnamon.
Sweet potatoes may help you improve blood sugar control, and are high in vitamin A, which helps maintain a good immune system and skin health, during the colder season.
Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, roasted or sautéed and enjoyed as a delicious side dish or added to everything from sandwiches to salads to breakfast bowls. Keep reading below to find delicious recipes with sweet potatoes.
Turnips are a delicious root vegetable common through the months of October through March. They have an impressive nutrient profile, being a great source of vitamin C, fiber, manganese and potassium. Adding this additional vitamin C to your diet can help boost your immunity, which could help you reduce symptoms and shorten the severity of respiratory infections, such as the common cold of the season.
You can use turnips as a lower carb option to swap potatoes. Try making turnip fries, coleslaw, stir-fry or salad.
Whole grain foods are full of complex carbs. Complex carbs release energy slower, which allows increased energy in time, which is particularly great for the Fall and Winter season. In fitness terms, this also allows lengthier, stronger workouts, less inflammation and quicker recovery.
Brown rice is a whole grain, meaning that it contains three parts of the grain kernel: the outer, fiber-filled layer called the bran, the nutrient-rich core called the germ, and the starchy middle layer called the endosperm. White rice, in contrast, is a refined grain, meaning that the bran and the germ have been removed, leaving just the endospore. This process strips away much of the fiber and nutrients.
Brown rice is officially no longer just a side dish. From hearty breakfast meals to full casseroles, you can use brown rice for a myriad of delicious dishes.
Quinoa is higher in nutrients than most grains and often marketed as a "superfood". Although quinoa is prepared and consumed like a cereal grain, it’s categorized as a pseudocereal, as it doesn’t grow on grass like wheat, oats, and rice.
It has a crunchy texture and nutty flavour. It’s also gluten-free and can thus be enjoyed by people who are sensitive to gluten or wheat.
It’s usually boiled and added to salads, used to thicken soups, or eaten as a side dish or breakfast porridge.
A gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits. These include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Oats are common at breakfast as oatmeal (porridge), which is made by boiling oats in water or milk. They're also often included in muffins, granola bars, cookies and other baked goods
Millets are gluten-free and can be easily absorbed by the body besides being a rich source of fibre, copper, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. These are slow in digestion and do not cause spike in blood sugar levels, therefore making it beneficial for diabetics.
Like quinoa and other whole grains, millet lends itself well to breakfast porridge dishes, a replacement for rice alongside vegetable stir-fries, and as a savory pilaf. It's also a versatile bulking ingredient in soups, casseroles, and vegetarian patties.
Legumes: Beans, Chickpeans, Lentils and Soybeans
Beans and legumes have a number of health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels and increasing healthy gut bacteria. They are a great source of protein, Vitamin B, dietary fibre; and a great replacement for meat as a source of vegetarian protein.
Beans are incredibly versatile, and perfect for completing so huge variety of plant-based meals.
Autumn and winter bring a tremendous variety of greens that support our good health and digestion. They are all packed with dietary fibre that helps bulk up your stool, thereby regulating your bowel movement and digestion. The high fibre content in the season green veggies also keeps you satiated for long, thereby curbing your urge to binge on other fattening foods, which can also help you shed a pound or two, or at least maintain your weight during the festivities. Visit your local vegetable organisation to find out of fruits of vegetables in season in your region. For example, in the UK, the Veg Association.
Common vegetables in Fall and Winter
Some examples of the most common green vegetables in autumn and winter are:
- Arugula (Rocket)
- Brussels sprouts
The fibre in fall and winter fruits, such as apples and pears helps to clean out the accumulated heat of the summer months before moving into a heavier diet that typically would have seen our ancestors through winter,” says functional medicine specialist Susan Blum, MD, MPH, founder of the Blum Center for Health and author of The Immune System Recovery Plan.
Fruits in Fall and Winter
Some examples of fruits commonly in season are:
- Citrus fruits
Herbs and spices not only help keep the body warm during this season, but also boost digestion and contribute to strengthening your immune system. You can use them not only to season your meals, but to infuse them in teas and beverages, create soups, curries or even sprinkle them onto your favourite desserts.
Ginger is loaded with antioxidants, including a specific compound called gingerol, which has been associated with a long list of health benefits.
Ginger makes a great addition to tea, soups, smoothies and stews and can bring a zesty twist to just about any dish.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has been associated with a long list of benefits, including improved joint pain, blood sugar levels and symptoms of depression.
Turmeric is widely available as a spice and can be added to both savoury and sweet recipes, as well as famous drinks as the golden turmeric milk.
To reap the most of its benefits, pair turmeric with black pepper, as the latter contains a compound that significantly boosts the absorption of curcumin in your gut.
Additional Herbs common in Fall in Winter
More nuts to add to your fall and winter diet are:
Plant-based meal ideas for Fall and Winter
Using the above founding principles with your season harvest at hand, you could try the following meals to inspire your healthy, plant based fall and winter. Inspire to build the best version of yourself from the inside out.
Healthy plant-based autumn-winter snacks
If you choose healthy, whole-food options with a lot of protein and nutrients, snacks can be an integral part of your diet without adding on extra weight. The snack examples below, can help keep you fuel throughout the day, and limit your cravings for unhealthy foods.
This cornbread is deliciously soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. In addition to organic corn meal, this recipe uses whole wheat flour, no oil, and no refined sugar. This delicious snack goes great alongside soups and chilli, for perfect warm comfort food on cool autumn and winter nights.
Recipe from Plant-Based News
- Prep Time: 20min
- Total Time: 30 min
- Yields: 8 servings
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup organic corn meal
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 flax eggs
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeño
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly cover a cast iron skillet in coconut oil or use parchment paper.
- Using warm to hot water, create flax eggs. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl or glass measuring jug, mix together almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat pastry flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add pickled jalapeños and mix.
- In a large bowl, combine, almond milk mixture, flax eggs, water, and apple sauce. Mix until well combined.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined, being careful to not over mix.
- Pour mixture into cast iron skillet. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the cornbread is golden and is pulling away from the edges of the skillet.
- Once the cornbread is finished, let cool, slice and serve as a side with chilli!
Sweet potato bites
So easy and beautiful! These sweet potato bites will go fast so double up!
- Prep.Time: 10 min
- Total Time: 30 min
- Yield: Serves: 6-8
Recipe from Delish adapted to plant.based options
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
- 2 tbsp. melted butter
- 1 tsp. maple syrup
- Kosher salt
- 1 (10-oz.) bag vegan marshmallows
- 1/2 c. pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 400°. On a large baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with melted butter and maple syrup and arrange in an even layer. Season with salt.
- Bake until tender, flipping halfway through, about 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and switch oven to broil.
- Top each sweet potato round with a marshmallow and broil until puffed and golden. Immediately top each marshmallow with a pecan half and serve.
Healthy plant-based autumn-winter dinners
These healthy dinner recipes shake up your comfort food favorites by adding more seasonal veggies and swapping out cooking methods.
Chilli-Lime Roasted Root vegetables
Incredibly simple dish that could be used as a staple side dish. It is a lower-carb, and more nutritious alternative than the classic baked potatoes.
Recipe from The Last Ingredient
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 50-55 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 pounds root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips and red onions cut with root left intact)
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together half the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add the root vegetables stirring to coat.
- Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast 40-45 minutes until browned on the outside and tender in the middle. Toss with the remaining lime juice and cilantro before serving.
Pumpkin Curry with chickpeas
A veggie dinner dish which stands alone as a vegan main course or as a beautiful side dish.
Recipe from BBC Good food.
- Prep. Time: 20 min
- Total Time: 40 min
- Yield: Serves 4
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 3 tbsp Thai yellow curry paste, or vegetarian alternative
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 large stalks lemongrass, bashed with the back of a knife
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1 tbsp mustard seed
- 1 piece pumpkin or a small squash (about 1kg)
- 250ml vegetable stock
- 400ml can reduced-fat coconut milk
- 400g can chickpea, drained and rinsed
- 2 limes
- A large handful mint leaves
- naan bread, to serve
- Heat the oil in a sauté pan, then gently fry the curry paste with the onions, lemongrass, cardamom and mustard seed for 2-3 mins until fragrant. Stir the pumpkin or squash into the pan and coat in the paste, then pour in the stock and coconut milk. Bring everything to a simmer, add the chickpeas, then cook for about 10 mins until the pumpkin is tender. The curry can now be cooled and frozen for up to 1 month.
- Squeeze the juice of one lime into the curry, then cut the other lime into wedges to serve alongside. Just before serving, tear over mint leaves, then bring to the table with the lime wedges and warm naan breads.
Healthy plant-based autumn-winter desserts
Whether you've just cooked a delicious, healthy dinner that your whole family loved, or are looking for a light snack to satisfy your sweet tooth, you probably want a few healthy dessert ideas on hand. Stay sweet and healthy with these plant based, autumn-winter desserts.
Orange Ginger Pear and Quince Crisp
This orange ginger pear and quince crisp will make your whole house smell like the perfect fall candle while it’s baking. It’s a simple seasonal treat everyone will love and perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!
- Prep Time: 20 min
- Total Time: 1h 5 min
- Yield: Serves 10
Recipe from Running to the Kitchen
For the crisp topping
- 1 cup oats
- ½ cup all purpose flour (whole wheat white flour or gluten free flour also work)
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- 1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
- 5 tablespoons melted butter (or coconut oil)
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
For the fruit filling
- 2 cups chopped pears, peeled and cored
- 1 ½ cups chopped quince, peeled and cored
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- zest of 1 small orange
- juice of 1 small orange
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (whole wheat white flour or gluten free flour also work)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Add all the topping ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together until well combined and set in the refrigerator until needed. You can make the topping in advance if you’d like.
- Combine the filling ingredients in another large bowl. Toss to thoroughly combine.
- Transfer the fruit filling to a 9x13 or similar sized baking dish.
- Sprinkle the oat topping on top, covering the fruit evenly.
- Bake for 45 minutes until top starts to turn golden brown.
- Remove from oven, let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Quince Tarte Tatin
Make this twist on the classic apple tart. Quince is more dense than apple, so it retains a bit of firmness even after it's cooked. quinces become deliciously sweet when baked, helping them pair beautifully with dessert wines. Pour a honeyed, dried fruit—scented vin santo.
Recipe from Food & Wine adapted to plant-based options
- Prep. Time: 45 min
- Total Time: 2 h
- Yield: Serves : 10
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 3 1/2 pounds quinces (about 10)—peeled, sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 inch thick, cores discarded
- 1 pound vegan puff pastry,
- chilled vegan Crème fraîche for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a heavy 14-inch skillet, combine the sugar, light corn syrup, water and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook over moderate heat without stirring, gently swirling the syrup in the skillet occasionally and washing down the side of the skillet with a wet pastry brush, until a medium-light amber caramel forms, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the butter. Add the sliced quince and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally with a nonstick rubber spatula, until softened, about 5 minutes. Let the quince cool slightly. Evenly distribute the quince slices over the bottom of the skillet or, for a neater appearance, carefully arrange them in concentric circles.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 14-inch square. Using the skillet lid as a template, cut out a 14-inch round. Cut eight 1-inch-long steam vents in the pastry round and lay it over the fruit. Bake the tart in the center of the oven for about 55 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Let the tart stand for 15 minutes.
- Cover the tart with a large plate and very carefully invert the tart onto the plate. Cut into wedges and serve with vegan crème fraîche.
Your turn to Fall and Winter Plant-based Nutrition
We have given you the reasons why your body, mind and soul ask for a seasonal nourishment. Now it's your turn to build this health foundation in your life from the inside out. You can keep in mind as a general rule, the following ideas throughout this season:
1. Boost your meals with the season herbs and fruits
You can turn your dishes into intriguing flavour bombs without adding calories, by cooking with earthy fall spices and herbs. Try cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sage, and rosemary. And to spice things up, include a touch of chilli peppers, such as Aleppo peppers.
You could also try mixing your classic morning oats with a fall fruit compote, by cooking up some quince with cinnamon, vanilla, and fresh ginger.
2. Roast away root vegetables, and then mix with green vegetables.
You could try roasting squash, root veggies, and tubers. Chop up a palate-pleasing mix of kabocha squash, sweet potato, turnips, parsnip, and rutabaga then toss with some wilted spinach or chard.
Did you try already eating seasonally? What is your take about your feelings and overall state of being while trying it? We would love to hear from you!
The best of luck to you all!