Archive for September 29, 2014

Reality Check: Vacation Food

Making Sausage Gravy on Our Camping Trip

My husband making ‘stone soup’ sausage gravy for breakfast while we were RV camping.

I’ve been thinking about beginning to do regular ‘reality check’ posts where I tell about how real food meets real life in my kitchen for the week, and give you some highlights and lowlights of our food. After packing food for a week of vacation last week, this seemed like a great time to start.

To give you a little context, our vacation was a family reunion at a place my husband describes as a time share for hillbillies. We were RV camping (which is not real camping in my mind, but that’s another topic) with a full fridge and freezer, small stove and oven and a microwave (which my husband used once or twice to reheat leftovers and I never used at all).

The Healthy:

*Grapes: The organic grapes at Kroger were more expensive than I expected and looked like they were about to go bad, so I went with the conventional grapes, which were on sale, and it was worth it. Grapes made a great quick and healthy snack, especially for times when we needed a little burst of energy anyway.

*Baby carrots: We only ate these for a couple of meals, but I did also snack on them a few times between meals, and as with the grapes, the convenience of eating baby carrots was key to the fact that we ate as many vegetables as we did on this trip.

*Alfalfa Sprouts: We had these on our sandwiches for lunch, which we ate about the half the days we were gone. Simple and yummy, and a little easier to transport around than lettuce.

*Odwalla smoothies/juice: I don’t normally buy such things, but for this trip I made an exception. I really enjoyed the smoothie flavors I got (green superfood and mango tango), to the point that I almost put them in the ‘yummy’ category instead of the ‘healthy’ category, and they were another very easy way to get a dose of fruits into a meal. (Especially toward the end of the trip when the rounds of hot dogs started making me crave a salad, the green smoothie was really nice to have in the fridge.)

The Meh

*Fudge Striped Shortbread smores: This seems like such a good idea, using the chocolate coated cookies instead of chocolate and graham crackers, but it really wasn’t quite a smore. Maybe I’m just a traditionalist, but if I’m going to eat a gooey marshmallow I’d much rather make a real smore with it.

*Dawt Mill sandwiches: This is the place we went canoeing one day, and went back for lunch a different day to try their sourdough bread… which turned out to not be available. Their fries were okay, and I did enjoy my Rueben sandwich, but overall it was very ordinary food, and my husband said his burger wasn’t as good as he would get at his favorite burger place near our house. The highlight of that meal was the onion rings we got for an appetizer.

The Yummy:

*Sausage gravy: One day for breakfast we made what I started calling ‘stone soup sausage gravy’. My husband’s aunt had some sausage and canned biscuits, his grandmother had flour and we had milk and hot sauce. The gravy was quite good, but it was really the whole experience of pulling together to make it that made it one of the highlights of the trip.

*Hot dogs: We didn’t take any hot dogs on the trip, but as hot dogs were freely flowing and being offered around we did eat them several times. Once we made them into chili cheese dogs, and another time it was all beef hot dogs with a really good sweet pepper relish. I rarely buy hot dogs, so I consider them a very special treat and quite enjoyed them every time we ate them.

*Potato salad: I was originally planning to take fried potatoes to the big family meal on Friday evening, and at the last minute, instead I threw together a potato salad with the ingredients I had brought with me. I did have mustard and a little mayonnaise (but not enough for the amount of potato salad I was making), but no onion or garlic powder or olives or pickles or things like that. I added a good dollop of my homemade french onion dip and some capers that I happened to have brought with me, and it all made a surprisingly good potato salad.

 

Chime in below in the comments and let us know something especially healthy or surprisingly yummy, or unexpectedly meh that you ate this week.

French Onion Dip

Homemade French Onion Dip

The cast of characters…

 This recipe comes from a post I found here. I have tweaked the ingredients slightly, but the original recipe is also amazing. (Despite the fact that it contains celery seed… and really, who needs to be eating celery seed? Bleah.)

 I had to share this recipe because it’s one of the recipes I find myself making frequently and wanting on hand at all times. It tastes better than most store bought dip, but close enough to my mother’s ‘open a package of french onion soup and mix it in sour cream’ recipe to bring back fond memories. It not only eliminates the junk that’s in an envelope of store bought french onion soup mix, but gives you an opportunity to include more healing herbs and spices in your diet.

 Do you have any idea how amazing turmeric is? It’s anti inflammatory, high in antioxidants, may help fight Alzheimer’s, may help prevent cancer and alleviates depression. And one of the active ingredients (curcumin) is absorbed much better by the body when it’s eaten with black pepper, which also happens to be an ingredient in this recipe.

 All of the that information about turmeric and pepper is interesting and can be useful, especially if you’re working to treat a specific condition, but also works with my theory that you don’t have to be a research enthusiast to be healthy. Just eat real food of different kinds and it will do amazing things in your body, whether you know it or not. Also, foods that tend to work well together also often just happen to taste great together, and you might find yourself frequently combining black pepper and turmeric without ever knowing why this duo was especially good for you.

 So bascially, don’t fret. Just eat the food. (It’s amazing.)

 Turmeric also happens to be one of my favorite spices from a flavor standpoint. (Garlic is, of course, my favorite all time spice, but sadly, there is no garlic in french onion dip.) A small amount of turmeric often provides the final piece of the flavor puzzle when trying to recreate processed foods with real ingredients. In large amounts it can be a little bitter, but a dash or two provides a background flavor that blends all the other flavors and makes them ‘pop’ just a little more.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

 This gets an unreserved healthy rating from me (as long as you’ve checked the ingredients in your sour cream and it doesn’t have any crazy additives) and as an extra bonus, you might just be inspired to eat a lot more raw veggies if this dip is sitting in your fridge.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

 All the fabulousoity (which is, of course, an actual word, and not something I just made up) of french onion dip, but better.

French Onion Dip

1 tub (16 oz) sour cream

3 TBSP dried minced onion

1 TBSP parsley

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

dash cayenne

 Mix all ingredients thoroughly. If you’d like, you can let it sit overnight to let the flavors blend, but it’s still amazing if you eat it right away. Store in the refrigerator.

Carmine Coloring in Yoplait: Why I Don’t Mind Bugs in My Yogurt

I heard something shocking on the internet recently. I heard that Yoplait yogurt stopped coloring their strawberry yogurt with nasty chemicals and started coloring it with a more natural substance derived from bugs. BUGS! In our food!

Now, it seems that some pretty nasty chemicals can be used in the process of removing this natural coloring from the bugs, and in addition, some people have allergic reactions to this coloring. But that’s not what people are all worked up about. As far as I can tell, everyone is upset, because eating bugs is gross.

Seriously?

People out there who are concerned about healthy eating are taking up valuable time and using up what short attention spans the public has for health concerns in order to announce ‘don’t eat this, it’s gross’.

There are plenty of healthy foods that most people are grossed out by. Fermented cod liver oil. Liver. Brussel sprouts. And when it comes to those things we say things like, ‘you should try it, you’ll get used to it, it’s not so bad, it’s all in how you fix it’.

I think one of the really important things about eating healthy is being willing to have a spirit of adventure in trying new foods and new ways of eating foods and especially new ways of cooking those foods, since cooking more foods at home makes eating healthy simpler and less expensive.

So why are we going around undermining that spirit of adventure by telling people not to eat food that we think is gross?

And honestly, if you don’t want to eat bugs, I’m okay with that. Sometimes, on a personal level, there are certain kinds of grossness that it’s very hard to get past, and it may not be worth the energy to even try. That was how I felt about trying frog’s legs. I ate one, it tasted fine, but it was just too weird looking for me to really be able to enjoy it.

If you don’t want to eat bugs, don’t eat them. Just save the public outcry for real problems that actually matter.

So, Yoplait, I really appreciate the effort that you’re putting into revising your products to fit better into a natural and healthy lifestyle. I don’t think the carmine coloring is as much of an improvement as I would like it to be, but please don’t go back to the nasty chemical colors. Speaking for myself, I’m perfectly fine with eating yogurt that’s colored with bugs, I just want some way of knowing that your new bug coloring is actually eliminating the nasty chemicals instead of just introducing a new form of nasty chemicals.

For everyone else, I have a thought: try something new today. Make a new recipe, or buy a new ingredient you’ve never cooked with before, or at least order that dish at the restaurant that looks interesting but you’re always afraid won’t be as good as your regular order. Maybe it’s not that great, but it might just be spectacular, and it’s time to find out.

Menu Plan and Shopping List 9/18/14-10/1/14

I started out staying on menu plan pretty well this week, but after catching a cold AND going to Six Flags over the weekend, I just made the most of the leftovers that needed to be used up instead of making new dishes.

I made a salmon salad for sandwiches for lunch at Six Flags, which stayed in a cooler in the car because food isn’t allowed into the park. That worked out perfectly, because a break from all the people and noise in the middle of the day turned out to be something I needed anyway!

Since then we’ve eaten the leftover salmon salad as sandwiches with sprouts or mayo or capers or cheese, and once in a grilled cheese sandwich, with crackers, with tortilla chips, and once I ate it for breakfast on toast, with sprouts and fermented garlic.

We’ve also had leftover Costco rotisserie chicken with ramen noodles (yes, white flour, but I skip the spice packet and season it myself), in sandwiches, and simply as cold chicken.

Last night we tried out the food at Noodles & Company for the first time. At about $9 a person it didn’t qualify as cheap food, but it was definitely inexpensive for the quality of food they serve. It was fast, it tasted good, and we could tell they used good, fresh ingredients. I don’t think it will become one of our regular restaurants, but it is definitely someplace we’ll be going back to every so often.

Because we have a vacation coming up I’ll be posting my menu plan for the next TWO weeks, and it will include some vacation food, so don’t be startled if it looks a little different from normal.

Dinners:

Possible social event (I don’t have details on this, but if it doesn’t happen like I thought, this meal will probably be leftovers or eating out)

Eating out (because of traveling, I suspect this will happen at least once)

Salmon salad sandwiches with sprouts

Hamburgers (with fermented ketchup) and spinach artichoke dip

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging day

Crockpot Lasagna (for church fellowship meal)

Chicken Burritos and grapes (x2)

Hamburgers (with fermented ketchup), fried potatoes, sprout salad (x2)

Costco rotisserie chicken (for church fellowship meal)

Turkey rice casserole with garlic green beans

Sushi

Mexican Casserole with peas

Lunches:

While we’re on vacation our lunches will mostly consist of sandwiches with some sprouts, fruit and maybe carrots. There may also be at least one day of eating out for lunch, depending on our traveling schedule. Other than that we’re on the standard plan of leftovers for lunch. If we run short of leftovers I may make quesadillas or another batch of salmon salad to fill the gap.

Breakfasts:

With a cold going through our house the amount of dairy involved in making smoothies didn’t seem like such a great idea after all, so we only had smoothies once. I did rediscover peanut butter honey toast this week, and actually did odd breakfasts like leftovers or raw carrots a couple of times this week. (I think I get more weird when I have a cold…)

I’m hoping my subscribe and save order comes before vacation, because it includes a case of Larabars I got a really good deal on. If that’s not an option for our breakfasts, I’ll probably make up a batch of pancake or waffle batter ahead of time and get plenty of peanut butter and fruit and yogurt (oh, and eggs for my husband).

Baking and Extras:

I need to make cheese to use up some older milk and keep making alfalfa sprouts, because we are really enjoying sprouts right now. I also should make a new batch of kombucha, and use up some apples that I sliced up and stuck in the fridge with lemon juice, as they are now nearing the end of their life expectancy. The may be as simple as throwing them into smoothie or oatmeal, but if I can muster the energy it would be fun to do a baking project with them.

Shopping List:

Kroger has some decent sales this week, like grapes for 99 cents/lb (if you’re okay with non-organic grapes), frozen veggies for $1 and Private Selection single serve greek yogurt for .39 when you buy in multiples of four.

Here’s a selection of my shopping list for the week (and this is me trying not to cringe about spending extra money on vacation food):

organic grapes, about $4/2lb

baby carrots, about $1.50

Hansen’s root beer, about $4

Mayonnaise, $2.50

whole wheat bread, 4/$4

Canned crab, about 3/$8.40

nitrate free lunch meat, about 2/$7

cheese for sandwiches about $2.50

greek yogurt, 8/$3

sour cream, about $1.30

frozen veggies, 4/$4

 

 

 

Other Fall Cleansing and Detoxifying Ideas (Part 4)

In parts one, two and three of this series on fall cleansing ideas, I talked about foods that are specifically in season in the fall, and natural detoxifying effects that come from eating these seasonal foods. To finish up I’m going to mention a few general ideas for detoxifying that could be used year round, but may be helpful to incorporate into any fall cleanse you want to do.

Daily Detox Teas/Green Tea/Herbal Teas

I don’t know enough about different detox tea blends to suggest a specific one, but I know there are plenty out there that claim to be effective while being gentle enough for daily use. I suggest either buying from a brand you trust or reading labels and doing some research on ingredients. Personally, I would avoid anything that claims weight loss benefits unless you’re comfortable with all the ingredients listed, just because weight loss products are often more formulated for hype than good health and true detoxing.

You could also choose a single ingredient tea that encourages cleansing, such as green tea (which speeds up the liver and increases production of detoxifying enzymes), dandelion root tea (flush toxins and promotes healing) or tulsi, also known as holy basil (antibacterial, anti viral, anti fungal, supports the liver and is anti-inflammatory).

And if it’s not cold enough yet in your area for you to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea, you could make cold brewed tea latte (preferably honey sweetened) to make your daily dose of detoxification a little more enjoyable.

Lemon

Lemons may not technically be a year round fruit, but they do come very close, ripening continually in different parts of the country from fall through late spring.

Lemons are another food infamous for detoxifying, popular uses being to put lemon juice in a mug of hot water every morning (yum?) and the master cleanse/lemonade diet. I suggest incorporating lemon into your diet a little more naturally by making this natural gatorade (don’t forget you can add a pinch of ginger!) or at least adding  a tea bag and drizzle of honey to your morning hot water and lemon.

Also, the peel of the lemon probably contains a lot more detoxifying properties than the juice, so consider sprinkling lemon zest across your salad or meat (or pasta, for that matter, if you’re not doing an intensive cleanse) to activate more detoxification enzymes in your liver.

Detox Baths

Simply adding 1 cup of epsom salts, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide or 2-4 TBSP fresh grated or powdered ginger, or some combination of the above, to your warm bath water can help draw toxins out of your body through your skin.

Fall Cleansing and Detoxifying Foods, Part 3

For more information see parts one and two of this series.

Ginger

Ginger could be considered a year round food, but it is often harvested in the fall, so you may be able to find very fresh ginger more easily at this time of year.

While not necessarily directly involved in detoxifying the body, ginger does two things that make cleanses more effective in general.  First, it has a warming effect, tending to boost metabolism and body temperature, which makes your body more energetic in general and creates a less friendly environment for toxins. Second, it improves digestion, which makes elimination of the toxins quicker and more efficient, as well as allowing the body to absorb  other nutrients and detoxifying foods more effectively.

You can use fresh ginger to make tea, run a knob of ginger through your juicer with your other produce, grate a small amount into your smoothie or add some to your bath for a detox bath. You can also use powdered ginger in any of the above uses, as well as general baking. Or add a large pinch of powdered ginger to this natural electrolyte drink recipe, to make a ginger tonic that one of my sisters uses often to boost her metabolism (and relieve female cramping).

Grapes

Grapes are so popular as a detox food, that there is an entire detox diet that consists of nothing but grapes. They are high in antioxidants, and stimulate the cleansing action of the liver. Do note that grapes are on the dirty dozen list (meaning, they contain some of the most pesticides of any produce available) so organic grapes might be more effective at helping you get rid of toxins without just introducing more into your system.

I wouldn’t recommend a grape exclusive diet, but eating plenty of grapes or raisins as snacks would be one simple way to boost your detoxification. (You could even mix those raisins with some pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries for a super detoxifying trail mix.)

Carrots

Like ginger, carrots could be considered a year round vegetable, but are often harvested most heavily in the fall.

Because of the amount of fiber they contain, carrots are a good addition to any colon cleanse, but in addition they are particularly well suited to absorb excess hormones out of the body for expulsion. Also, particularly when eaten first thing in the morning, they help expel intestinal worms. (If a couple of raw carrots first thing in the morning doesn’t sound appealing to you, you might try starting your day with some carrot/apple juice for this effect.)

For cleanses, carrots are best eaten raw. You might snack on them with some homemade french onion dip, add them to juices, add them to your coleslaw or green salad, or even try fermenting them for a double cleansing whammy.

 

Fall Cleansing and Detoxifying Foods, Part 2

See Part 1, here.

Broccoli and other Cruciferous Vegetables

Okay, cruciferous vegetables get complicated, so here’s the quick version: If they’re cooked, they lose the enzymes that stimulate the liver and help detoxify the body (though based on some comments in this study, I think cooked vegetables were used, so likely cooking the veggies only partially changes the effect).

If they’re raw, they may block iodine absorption, causing hypothyroid in those with low thyroid tendencies (though again, this may be a bit exaggerated, as if you have plenty of iodine in your diet to start with, it may not harm your thyroid at all to have some of the iodine blocked).

Fermented cruciferous veggies (such as kimchi and sauerkraut) get the best of both worlds with the full benefit of raw enzymes, but no iodine blocking effect. The downside here is that most people find it difficult to eat large amounts of sauerkraut or other fermented cruciferious veggies on a daily basis.

My recommendation: Include cruciferous vegetables in your diet however you like them best, ideally with some combination of all three methods: cooked, raw and fermented. Your body will probably tell you which way it’s getting the nutrients it needs the most at the moment, simply by how much you enjoy eating them compared to other methods of preparation. If you’re particularly aiming at detox though, you might want to focus in on the raw and fermented versions of these veggies.

Side note: This article claims that because of the enhanced liver function after eating these vegetables “if you eat a lot of these healthy vegetables you’d actually have to drink more coffee to get the same buzz because your liver is so revved up.” I’m pretty sure this is similar to the reason Captain America can’t get drunk because his body processes alcohol so quickly, therefore broccoli clearly give you superpowers.

In case you were wondering, besides broccoli, you can get the benefits of these cruciferous vegetables from eating cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, rutabegas, turnips,kohlrabi and others even including horseradish! Most cruciferous vegetables, including all the ones listed above, grow best in the cooler seasons, so are plentiful in the fall.

 

Menu Plan and Shopping List 9/11/14-9/17/14

I switched out a few meals this last week, but over all I used the same main ingredients I’d been planning to use.

Instead of salmon patties for one dinner I made grilled cheese sandwiches (which was my ‘fill in if lunches are needed’ meal), and then the next day for lunch we had a salmon salad (much like tuna salad, made with canned salmon) with crackers. I have decided that salmon salad needs to be in my fridge as a snack option on a regular basis. It’s a protein snack, with a bonus for being fish, and since the Aldi price on canned salmon had dropped to $2.09 last time I was there, eating even half a can’s worth wouldn’t be unreasonably expensive for a healthy snack.

My whole wheat New York style pizza crust came out well, and I think I’m very close to perfecting it. I just need to make it a little more reliably crispy, as this batch came out of the oven crispy but went soft very quickly sitting on table.

Instead of crockpot lasagna I simplified and took to church fellowship meal one of the extra lemon basil garlic chicken pizzas I made on Friday.

As always, the homemade whole wheat chicken strips were a hit, and I realized that now that I’ve made the recipe several times I can work on other projects while they’re frying, so it only took me thirty minutes to make the chicken strips and a batch of homemade ketchup to go with them. I think of fried meals as tedious to make, so it’s cool to realize that once I have my system down, this one is actually pretty quick.

The sprout salad I made was also (surprisingly) a hit. It was about half red lentil sprouts and half alfalfa sprouts, with some parmesan and little bits of sharp cheese, topped with homemade ranch. That one needs to stay in my regular recipe rotation!

Both the burritos meal and and sushi meal got moved, one for an unplanned social event and one because I’m feeling kind of crummy and just pulled a Mexican casserole out of the freezer for supper tonight. (Side note: I’d eventually like start doing bigger freezer cooking sessions combined with longer term meal planning, but even just making a double batch of supper and throwing half in the freezer has worked really well for me.) I will be serving that planned avocado salad with the Mexican casserole, but because avocados are so difficult to time right (especially Aldi avocados) some of them went bad before I got them cut up to use.

Dinners:

Hamburgers with mayo and fermented ketchup, baby carrots

Pizza with sprout salad

Social Event

Costco rotisserie chicken (for church fellowship meal)

Chicken thighs (spiced depending on my mood, so probably garlic), spinach artichoke dip with tortilla chips

Sushi (third time’s the charm?)

Burritos

Lunches:

I think we’ll have sufficient leftovers for lunches, and if not I’ll probably do something with pasta and possibly tuna to fill in the gaps.

Breakfasts:

On Saturday I made waffles based on an idea I read for adding triple sec to waffle batter, which was good, but not as amazing as the orange sauce I made to put on top of the waffles. For weekday breakfasts we’ve been solidly on eggs (for my husband) and toast recently, except for the occasions where I decide that I’d rather just eat salmon salad or a frothed milk steamer for breakfast, but I’d really like to get smoothies back in the rotation a couple of times this week.

Baking and Extras:

Making pickled ginger is at the top of my list this week. I may also need to make a new batch of kombucha. Beyond that, I’m just going to leave it open to do some fun baking if I have time and energy.

Shopping List:

There are only a few good sales at Kroger and Aldi this week (88 cents for frozen vegetables at Kroger is the only memorable one), which was disappointing until I found a deal on Costco memberships and bought one, so my entire shopping list is for Costco this week.

Before I proceed to the list, let me fill you in on this deal, just in case you’re also in the market for a Costco membership. If you purchase a membership through Living Social, here, you will pay $55 for a basic Costco membership. This is the normal price BUT with this deal you also get a $20 gift card and coupons for a few free items like their rotisserie chicken (which is allergen friendly and pretty close to healthy for ready made food) and toilet paper (and let’s face it, everyone can use free toilet paper).

There are several items that I’m going to price check while I’m there, but here are some of the ones I know I want to buy this week:

organic tomato paste, $6/12pk (this is what I use for making my homemade ketchup)

turbinado sugar, about $8/6lb

organic white flour, about $8/10lb? (so I can make sometimes make white flour treats without having to be concerned about GMOs)

Mountain High plain yogurt, about $4/64oz (this works really well as a starter for my homemade yogurt, so I could use some after the fridge fiasco two weeks ago)

chicken thighs, .79/lb (I’m planning to buy at least 20 lb of these to have on hand for easy church fellowship meal dishes and inexpensive weeknight dinners)

This post contains affiliate links.

Fall Cleanse and Detoxification Ideas, Part 1

As I mentioned in this post, the slow fade of Fall into Winter is a time when our bodies naturally tend to prepare for the coming colder weather by getting rid of accumulated toxins, and some of the Fall produce helps to encourage this natural inclination.

Over the next couple of days I’m going to point out some of the Fall foods that help encourage the gentle cleansing (some of which you may not have even thought of as seasonal foods), possibly along with some other non-seasonal ideals for daily or gentle detoxification.

Apples

Apples are very notable in their ability to absorb and help eliminate toxins. Not only does a high pectin content generally absorb toxins and move them out of the body, and encourage the flushing of the liver and gallblader, but both the pectin and the glucaric acid content may help the body to specifically get rid of heavy metals and estrogen like chemicals.

You can go to any lengths you like in embracing the cleansing effect of apples, from eating nothing but raw apples for two days, to including apples in a fresh juice blend (whether as part of a cleanse or just morning glass of juice), to just following the ‘apple a day’ adage.

Pumpkin

While I have found only the vaguest hints that pumpkin might help in detoxifying, I did discover that pumpkin seeds are included in a lot of parasite cleanse blends. If you buy any whole pumpkins, consider saving and roasting the seeds to snack on.

Cranberries
 Cranberry juice, and to some extent cranberry in other forms, is well known for it’s effectiveness in treating bladder infections, but you may not realize that cranberries help to cleanse the whole urinary system, including the kidneys.

Similarly to apples, you can do an intensive cranberry juice cleanse, throw a handful of cranberries in your morning smoothie, or simply have a glass of cranberry-apple juice, a handful of dried cranberries, or a serving of homemade cranberry sauce. (Note that the more refined sugar you have with your cranberries the less effective the cleansing action will be overall.)

Stay tuned for more ideas tomorrow!

 

The Foods of Fall

It’s that time of year when the weather has barely starting wandering toward the next season, but a turn of the calender page has made us start thinking ahead to that shift of seasons. Even as we savor the last of the summer produce, the tomatoes and zucchini that so recently seemed infinite and unending, our thoughts begin to turn to apples and pumpkins, and perhaps to pears and root vegetables and even brussel sprouts.

Fall is the transition that eases us from the bright days and late nights of summer into the cozier and sleepier days of winter.

The hardier autumnal fruits and vegetables tend to be those which store well for the winter, and unlike the lighter produce of summer, they generally provide a denser, more carbohydrate rich fuel for those cold days when our bodies expect to burn more fuel and need more insulation against the weather. At the same time, some of the fall produce nudges our bodies to get rid of toxins in one last push before settling in for those heavier winter meals.

Here are a few tips for cooperating with the natural tendencies of this season:

*Continue taking advantage of the lighter summer produce while it’s in season and available in your garden or at your local farmer’s market, but be ready to transition into fall produce as it becomes more plentiful.

*Consider starting some ferments as a way of storing fruits and vegetables for winter. While this traditional habit is no longer necessary to preserve food, it is a good way to preserve high quality, in season produce in a way that will help keep your immune system running well as you enjoy them through the winter. (Sauerkraut is a good, simple option, but I’ve also seen interesting ideas such as fermented apple chutney. A quick google search for ‘fermented ______’, filling in the blank with whatever produce you have extra of, should provide plenty of options.)

*If you have an interest in juice fasts or other cleanses, the fall is one good time to schedule them, as there’s still plenty of produce available, and, as mentioned above, our bodies are naturally doing a gentle detox to prepare for winter. If you’re not interested in doing a full blown cleanse, you might still pick up a box of some type of daily detox tea to add to your morning routine for a month or two.

*Take advantage of the cooler and less humid weather to get outside and get all the vitamin D you can before the darker months of winter.

 

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