By Belinda Ossip

The fall season is traditionally a time to harvest, when we gather the abundance of Mother Nature’s crop before the dark days of winter. As we begin to observe our environment, it empowers us to respond to daily and seasonal changes in our local climate.

Most of us adapt our habits seasonally without being conscious of doing so. For instance, summer is a time when we often eat strawberries and raspberries in abundance; those berries protect eye health with their antioxidant properties, an important factor during the bright, sunny days of summer.

Belinda Ossip

Belinda Ossip

In the fall months we make pumpkin muffins and warming soups, foods that naturally boost our immune systems in preparation for the winter ahead. By making diet and lifestyle choices that embrace each season, we can improve and balance our health throughout the year.

The diet is a powerful tool to help nourish and protect the body and bolster the immune system while embracing the change of season. By incorporating seasonal fall foods into your diet, you can help avoid the common colds and flu that are associated with the fall and winter months.

When you eat seasonally from one season to the next, you strengthen and support your immune system. One season supports the next, and they are all connected. The very foods we need to protect our health are available in nature during that season.

Adapting to a seasonal diet and building meals around the foods that have been harvested at their peak of ripeness offer huge health benefits. Fruits and vegetables that are harvested just as they’ve matured are abundant in nutrients.

In contrast, fruits and vegetables transported from far away are picked before they’re ripe and nutritionally mature. The produce thus can endure days or weeks in a truck and storage, but that doesn’t do your body any favors.

Produce that is seasonal generally is more nutrient-dense and higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating sweet potatoes in fall provides us with up to three times as much vitamin C as eating them out of season. We also bring a rich variety of tastes and flavors to our diet as we get the full range of vitamins that nature has to offer.

By eating foods seasonally and locally, we also support small and midsize local farmers and in turn cut down on pollution, reduce our carbon footprint and boost our local economy. Seasonal local foods are also often cheaper and save you money.

When you eat seasonally, you are getting fruits and vegetables that are at their peak in health benefits, can strengthen your immune system, and support the environment and local farmers.

Belinda Ossip is a holistic health practitioner for Jewish Family & Career Services’ Health Power Initiative and is part of a team that works with people in the Developmental Disabilities Services — Tools for Independence division. She also provides health consultations and workshops to all divisions within JF&CS, as well as to the staff. She received her training as a certified holistic health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She received a certificate in plant-based nutrition from eCornell, a subsidiary of Cornell University.

 

Fall Golden Vegetable Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 cups chopped carrots

1 large onion, finely chopped, or 2 leeks

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 sweet potatoes

2 turnips

1 rutabaga

2 parsnips

1½ pints vegetable stock

2-3 cups water (if needed)

Pinch of salt and pepper

Pinch of nutmeg or mace

Pinch of cinnamon

Directions

Finely chop the celery, carrots, and onion or leeks. Warm the olive oil in a pan and add those chopped ingredients. Stir and allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes until tender. Add the nutmeg and cinnamon and cook for a further 2 minutes. Chop the remaining vegetables and add them to the pan. Stir well and add the vegetable stock. The stock should just cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Liquidize until smooth (you may have to add some water for a smoother consistency).

Serve warm with a slice of crusty whole wheat bread and enjoy. Provides 6 to 8 servings.