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‘Tis the season to bask in the golden hue of autumn sunlight, to cozy up in a warm flannel, to snuggle up with those you love, and to celebrate the bountiful harvest with tasty seasonal food that nourishes your body, mind, and soul.
Choosing seasonal produce is an effective way to attune your body to nature. Eat more whole, locally grown fruits and vegetables for optimal nutrition and prepare yourself for a strong, vital, and healthy transition into the colder months of the year.
Enjoy this variety of autumn produce favorites, start meal planning, and pamper your palate this fall!
Pears are one of the oldest fruits cultivated by man and have been used across China as a medicinal fruit. Pears are said to have strong anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycemic (blood-sugar stabilizing), and diuretic qualities. Pears are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. In the U.S., you can find different varieties of pears in season from the late summer (starting with Bartlett pears) to the early winter (late-season Anjou pears). Fresh fruits in season are always a treat—be sure to seek them out.
How to enjoy: Like many stone fruits, you can enjoy a fresh-picked pear a la carte for its delicious, sweet mouth-watering flavor. For something unique bake into a warm pie with some raw honey and grated ginger or sauté with ghee and cinnamon to top off your morning oats.
Produce in season is always tasty, but nothing beats these fresh berries. Native to Asia, persimmon is an edible berry that comes from the Ebenaceae family. You may have seen (or tried) persimmons at your local market during autumn. Persimmons are known for their potent phytochemistry and high level of antioxidants (such as proanthocyanidin, carotenoids, tannins, ﬂavonoids, anthocyanidin, and catechin), making it a wonder food for decreasing the risk of many health concerns such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
How to enjoy: The persimmon is a delicious fruit on its own. Simply cut off the leaf-like flower stem and slice the persimmons lengthwise to enjoy. For a naturally sweet treat, try blending fresh persimmons with a cup of coconut milk and a dash of ground ginger.
Somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower, meet Romanesco. This delightful cruciferous vegetable is known for its beautiful spirals and earthy flavor. Romanesco—similar to broccoli—is the edible flowering part of the larger plant. Something unique to Romanesco is its naturally occurring fractals (spirals made from geometric figures or curves that repeat themselves) which spin off into logarithmic Fibonacci spirals. Romanesco is one of autumn’s stand-out seasonal vegetables that can be found at your local farmer’s market and is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron.
How to enjoy: Try using Romanesco in place of broccoli or cauliflower—steamed, sautéed, or roasted. While you are experimenting with Romanesco, try roasting it whole in a cast iron pan—once coated thoroughly with olive oil and sea salt. Then present this pretty vegetable whole, spirals intact, for a beautiful picture on your dinner table before slicing and serving. Or try it as the meal’s main ingredient in a vegan blended soup (recipe below) for a spin-off of the more traditional cream of broccoli soup.
Originally grown in the Mediterranean, figs can be consumed fresh or dried. Figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber and a wide array of vitamins and minerals. While figs may seem like just any other sweet and tasty fruit, there are many healing aspects of figs that have been used in ancient medicine. Figs have been noted as a strong antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anticancer source. Even the leaves have been used to treat jaundice.
How to enjoy: Fresh figs are sweet and succulent as well as delightful made into a fig spread to add to your favorite charcuterie tray. Try a lovely fall-themed roasted fig salad (recipe below) to add a little warmth to your greens and your body as the weather begins to cool down.
Often called the Persian shallot, leeks are part of the Allium family and there are many benefits of eating them. Leeks are a potent and nutrient-dense food to have on your plate this fall. Similar tasting, but a bit more mild than onions or garlic, leeks are high in vitamins K, A, and C, as well as folate, and can add a delightful flavor to any meal. The Allium family is considered a medicinal food: One study showed a decrease in colorectal cancer with an increase in consumption of Allium plants.
How to enjoy: First, be sure to wash your leeks well, as the many layers of the leek tend to need extra attention to ensure they are dirt free and ready for cooking and eating. Leeks add a pungent flavor (similar to onions and garlic) to almost any dish. Use generously in your crockpot with your favorite roast or stew, sauté in butter or ghee with a sprinkle of sea salt for a tasty side dish, or enjoy a traditional fare of a hearty potato leek soup (recipe below).
There are many health perks to eating celery, the crunchy and hydrating veggie that can create a positive impact on your health all the way down to your cells. Celery is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium, and folate. Celery has a robust antioxidant profile including the antioxidants caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, apigenin, luteolin, tannin, saponin, and kaempferol. Celery is anti-inflammatory and supports the liver, urinary tract, and heart.
Celery, and especially celery juice, has made a big splash in the nutrition world due to the celery juice craze. While there is a lot of controversy as to whether the benefits of eating celery is everything this craze has it cracked up to be, there are some noted health perks to including celery in your health regimen.
How to enjoy: Try juicing celery and sipping on a glass first thing after waking up. For a little extra juice flavor, add an apple and a chunk of fresh ginger to your juice. Celery is also great finely chopped and added to coleslaw, or dipped into hummus, guacamole, and bean dip. Remember the ants-on-a-log kid’s snack? Try a few versions of your own, as celery is a great place to spread your favorite nut butters such as almond butter, cashew butter, tahini, or pistachio butter for a high protein and alkalizing mid-day pick-me-up.
Here are a few recipes to try as you dive into some seasonal eating treats.
Have you ever tried cream of broccoli soup? This delicious blended soup variation uses Romanesco instead of broccoli plus a dairy-free creaminess to make for a perfect warming (and green) vegetable side-dish to add to your favorite fall dinner table.
In a large pot, sauté onion in oil for a couple of minutes until soft.
Add broth, potato, and Romanesco and simmer on medium-low until potatoes are soft—about 8 minutes.
Stir in nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and cashews and cook another 4 minutes or so until soft.
Blend until smooth and creamy. Serve hot with a dash of pepper on top!
This salad is a nice merge of sweet roasted figs over a fresh bed of your favorite fall greens with a tasty garnish of toasted pine nuts and goat cheese. The warm figs give this salad a beautiful top, enhancing the flavors of fall. Delicious!
Preheat oven to 425.
Combine the balsamic vinegar, molasses, olive oil, and sea salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add figs; toss to coat. Remove figs with a slotted spoon, reserving vinegar mixture.
Place figs in a cast iron or ovenproof skillet coated with lightly with oil. Bake at 425 for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove figs from pan; place on a plate. Immediately add reserved vinegar mixture to hot pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Pour into a small bowl; let figs and vinaigrette cool to room temperature.
Place greens on a platter; arrange warm figs over top. Sprinkle with goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and pepper. Drizzle with cooled vinaigrette.
This hearty soup is the perfect combination of fall flavors and ingredients (potatoes and leeks) including the traditional fall flare of oregano, rosemary, and thyme. A warming and delicious guilt-free comfort-food recipe that will surely become a family favorite.
Heat the coconut oil in a medium pot until liquified.
Sauté leeks, stirring often until softened (3 to 5 minutes). Add garlic into the pot and cook until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth and potatoes and cook on high heat until the potatoes are tender (10 to 12 minutes). Add dairy-free milk, Dijon mustard, herbs and spices, and salt and pepper.
Purée the soup. Top with chopped green onions and serve.
Exploring your local and seasonal fall produce while creating delicious meals to share with those you love is a brilliant way to nourish your body, mind, and soul. Peruse your local farmer’s market and grocery store for a seasonal bounty full of delicious fresh produce that catches your eye and let the artistry of your eating fly.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
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