One of the principles of the Mediterranean diet is eating with the seasons. Let’s embrace the autumn with its chilly weather and take a look at what fruits and vegetables are available at this time of year. And we’ll also take a look at other ways you can celebrate fall with Italian flare.
1. Foods that are in season in autumn
Apples, bananas, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cranberries, garlic, ginger, grapes, green beans, kale, kiwi, lemons, lettuce, limes, mangos, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, pears, peas, pineapples, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, raspberries, rutabagas, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnips, and yams.
Many of these foods will carry over into winter. I think of these foods as cozy for this time of year. I love to makes soups and stews using root vegetables. Citrus fruits provide us with the nutrients we need to ward off colds and flu. Cranberries and ginger are the scents and spices we think of for the holidays.
Read on to learn how to cozy up with these flavors.
2. How to make a simple vegetable puree soup
Get a good, easy soup recipe under your belt. It’s very enjoyable in the fall. You can mix and match the vegetables and herbs, so you have different flavors every time.
Here is my basic carrot soup recipe from my cookbook, The Big Book of Mediterranean Diet Cooking.
I’ve made this soup with many different vegetables instead of carrots. You’ll see there is no cream or milk. I use half of a russet potato as a thickener. This soup is very low calorie, yet still creamy and delicious. And it’s so easy to make.
Replace the pound of carrots with parsnips and you have a completely different soup. I’ve made this soup with asparagus, I’ve used a bag of frozen peas. I’ve tried it with turnips. Have fun experimenting with your favorite veggies and herbs.
3. Meal prep and planning for the week
We all get busier in the fall. The kids are back in school. The summer fun is behind us, and it’s time to get back to our big goals. Here are some tips for planning meals to save you time during the week.
- Make a sheet pan of roasted vegetables and keep them in a glass container in your fridge.
- Make a big vat of whole grains, and then reuse them throughout the week. You can make a hot breakfast cereal out of them, or use them as a side dish to dinner. Use them cold in salads.
- Soups and sauces can be made in advance. I often make a double batch of tomato sauce for pasta night, and then keep the reset in the freezer for the following week.
- Casseroles like lasagna and baked dishes freeze well. You can make two at a time. Have one for supper, save the second for a day when you have little time. This way you can still get a quick, hot dinner on the table, instead of ordering takeout. Add a green salad and you’re all set.
4. Try cutting back on meat
When you look at the Mediterranean diet pyramid, you’ll see that red meat is consumed in small quantities and only a few times a month. Most people believe that meat is the best source of protein. But there are many plant-based protein sources that are delicious, hearty, and have even more protein than meat as well as other necessary nutrients.
Did you know that broccoli has more protein per calorie than steak. And spinach is equal to chicken and fish.
Here are some vegetables that are high in protein:
Broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, avocado, artichokes, mushrooms, watercress, cabbage, bok choy, mustard greens, and collard greens.
You’ll also find that whole grains are a healthy source of plant-based protein as well:
Whole oats, breads made of whole wheat and rye, farro, buckwheat, bulgar, millet, barley, spelt, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and corn.
Corn is interesting, because it can be eaten as a vegetable or used as a grain.
5. Add fish once a week
Whether it’s a tuna salad sandwich or baked salmon for dinner. Try replacing meat once a week with fish to get your Omega-3 fatty acids.
Good choices are salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, herring, and sardines. These are the so-called fatty fishes that are high in Omega 3s. The lighter flakier fishes are also good for you. Try cod, flounder, mahi mahi, halibut, and catfish.
Seek out new kinds of fish at the supermarket. Simply brush them with olive oil, add a little salt and pepper, and bake them in the oven. They don’t take long, and they make a welcome change from the usual chicken or beef.
Sometimes I buy crab cakes or stuffed clams. Or I’ll buy a bag of mussels and steam them with white wine. Delicious.
6. Try herbal teas
In the colder months, I love a hot beverage in the evening. Coffee is my daytime drink, and tea is my cozy evening drink. Now that I’m a little bit older, I find that caffeine in the evening can bother me. And while I love green tea and black tea, I no longer drink them at night.
I love mint tea. Bigelow has a Mint Medley tea that I love. There is a brand called Pukka that has all kinds of herbal tea combinations. Last year, I had a tea advent calendar from Pukka, which helped me explore many of their flavors.
You can even try brewing your own teas. Add some mint leaves to a cup of hot water and allow them to steep. My sister makes a blend of lemon balm, ginger, and turmeric that she drinks as an iced tea. Or simply put a slice of lemon into your favorite decaf. Try different combinations and see what you like.
Now, what discussion of the Mediterranean diet would be complete without some lifestyle tips. Here are more ways to celebrate autumn.
7. Wear scarves
Scarves can keep you warm and add a pop of color to your outfit. Cotton, silk, wool, cashmere, take your pick. Tie a silk scarf to the handle of your purse to match your outfit. If you get chilly tie it around your neck.
There are so many ways to enjoy scarves. They’re not just for snowy days.
8. Shop your closet
There is a lot of talk about sustainability in fashion. Instead of buying a bunch of new clothes this season, why not look at what you already have, and see if you can wear them in new ways. You probably have some items you don’t even remember purchasing. I have a lot of blazers from when I used to work in an office. Now I pair them with jeans for an updated casual look.
Try having a clothes-swapping party. Gather a groups of friends, and each of you bring the things you no longer want to wear. You can shop each other’s closets. Anything left over, donate.
9. Light unscented candles at dinner
Add a romantic glow to meal times with candles. Be sure to use unscented so the fragrance doesn’t clash with the food. Save your scented candles to add ambience to your other rooms.
Candlelight gives a warm glow to a room. Even kids will find it fun. Create special moments by doing a little something extra at your next meal.
I hope you enjoy these Mediterranean lifestyle tips for autumn. This information was the basis for my live webinar via Zoom. You can watch the video replay below.
To find out about future free webinars, check out my Events page.