Kitchen Shrink: How to Gracefully Slip into Fall Foods
As we move into fall, truly my favorite season, our body clocks, appetites, and palates need to reset to shorter, cooler days, heartier foods, and earthier, more robust flavors. I recently met an acquaintance, who was delighted with her spring trip to India where she was training to become an Ayurvedic healer, and had gleaned some enlightening tips on diet and herbs. I asked her to share some gems with me, and she simply told me to listen to your body and embrace the seasons. Well, this season offers an abundance of exciting fruits, roots, seeds, squashes and greens to inspire us all to become our own Ayurvedic healers to achieve balance and well-being. Here’s how.
Give salads an autumnal twist by incorporating brain-boosting, antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens into the mix. Start with kale, the king of leafy greens and a super methyl donor packed with essential cancer-fighting nutrients, whether it’s Curly, Lacinato or Dino varieties with sturdy stems, stiff leaves and great taste. strong and earthy. For a peppery zip, do baby arugula, some sweet and nutty undertones try the tender Mache, a bite of bitters, choose Frisee, or for a crispy and rich in vitamins A and K, then hail, Caesar with romaine leaves. Or add some interesting texture and color with a good jaw workout with a handful of charred shredded savoy, napa, red or brussels sprouts with a sassy balsamic glaze. We are just getting started.
Toss a variety of raw or roasted seeds or nuts into your salad bowl, from nuggets and sunflower seeds to Marcona almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and pecans for a nice crunch, a dose of protein and a boosting zing for the heart and brain. . There is more. Sprinkle dried cranberries over green salads, tabbouleh or pilafs for a burst of flavor, a pop of color and a hearty chew. This little powerhouse has a mother lode of vitamins A, B, and C, plus anti-stick properties that make this tangy little fall darling the urinary tract’s best friend. To top it all off with a touch of fall, gently heat dressing or salad dressing, especially oil- and citrus-based ones, for a warm, comforting wilted salad on chilly nights.
As we phase out summer stone fruits, an abundance of crisp, juicy apples ranging from plump-lipped Granny Smith’s to luscious Honeycrisps fill the produce aisles and farmers markets. These versatile fall favorites are equally (if not more) delicious in hot compotes, flaky strudels and hot, raw ciders. Delicately sweet and elegant pears, including Bosc, Bartlett, Comice, Anjou and Asian varieties announce the season on charcuterie boards, poached in brandy or sliced in salads.
How about a romantic date with a Middle Eastern delicacy? Dates are a sweet autumnal treat, whether it’s amber-skinned Deglet Noors, creamy, mouth-watering honeyed dates, chewy, plump Medjools, or tiny Barhis with smoky candy essence. These waxy, nutrient-rich wonders add moistness, chewiness and caramelized notes to a variety of side dishes, salads, stuffings, quick breads, cookies or snacks smothered whole in creamy tahini and rich in protein.
Let’s cut to the chase with Autumn’s iconic Technicolors, especially garnet yams or Okinawa purple sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots of all hues, rutabagas, as well as ruby beets and browned to add a sweet dessert quality to dishes in every way. These hearty roots also provide tons of antioxidants, from beta-carotene to anthocyanins, to detoxify, sharpen, repair and defend various parts of the body.
Now let’s play squash. The cornucopia of fall squash in kitschy shapes and vibrant hues delights the eyes and palates of the most carnivorous among us. All my cookbook winners, whether it’s tender golden acorn squash with rich nutty undertones; the most divine silky-smooth orange-fleshed Butternut with a dash of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and autumnal cloves; the funky spaghetti squash that blossoms into a noodle-like mound of sprigs when cooked; the mild-mannered Delicata reminiscent of sweet potatoes; Japanese kabocha featuring chewy flesh much like chestnuts with a pungent, earthy kick; or the bold, giant Hubbard with sweet, dark orange flesh reminiscent of a sugar pumpkin.
Whichever variety you choose, this low-calorie botanical fruit contains a rich storehouse of immune-boosting antioxidants, plus a host of vitamins and minerals to support heart and eye health, relieve painful joints with a supply of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. , and reduce the signs of aging. Their shells can be hollowed out and stuffed, or used as an edible tureen for cold or hot fall soups. Bake, grill, roast, steam, sauté or mash. Swap pasta for butternut lasagna, toss spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and marinara sauce, or kale and pistachio pesto for a lighter, carb-friendly casserole.
Alas, this month my wonderful father-in-law passed away at the glorious age of 94. We reflected on and celebrated a full, rich and healthy life that we can attribute to a philosophy of gratitude, love of family and moderation. in food, drink and exercise. And while he was a pharmacist by trade, Dad believed in the teachings of Hippocrates, “make food your medicine”. Every time he came to visit us from New York, I made this elegant dessert mixing acorn squash with other goodies for a tipsy, indulgent, yet healthy treat. In memory of Burt Kaufman who was really satisfied with a single scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Drunk chocolate squash mousse
—1 large acorn squash (halved, seeds removed)
—2/3 cup dark chocolate syrup or melted bittersweet chocolate
—1/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in 3 tablespoons dark rum or fine cognac
—Orange blossom honey (to taste)
—1 cup heavy whipping cream (or dairy-free whipped cream)
— Whip the cream until peaks form. Put aside.
—In a saucepan half-filled with water, bring the squash to a boil and simmer until tender. Scoop out the flesh and mash it in a food processor.
—In a mixing bowl, combine the squash, syrup, honey, cranberries and liqueur. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Serve in martini glasses and garnish with chocolate shavings.