Thursday, October 17, 2013

How To: Eat For the Season

Fall is here! Everyone I know is eating and drinking pumpkin everything, spookily decorating their yards, and practicing their Halloween makeup ideas from Pinterest. If you’re like me, you want your house to smell like the scents of the fall from the first break in 100 degree temps. I like to have the essentials on hand at all times so when I’m ready to bake that delicious pumpkin bread or make a warm and cozy dinner I have everything I need. Eating seasonally is great for the body and your wallet. Here’s a good guide to what you should keep on hand and my favorite fall vegetables:

Clean and stock your pantry. Go through your kitchen and throw away anything that has been in there too long. Even things you think may be non-perishable may still have expiration dates. Spices older than a year won’t have the same bold taste or antioxidant effect. Sauces and pastes in the fridge may need to be replaced. Anything you may use often should be stocked in bulk (Vegetable/Chicken Stock; beans for stews; any canned items such as condensed milk and pumpkin purees).

Restock the essentials.  Restock the things in your pantry that you’ll use throughout the season so grocery shopping can be quick. I keep things like vegetable and chicken stock, beans and chickpeas, whole grain pastas and grains such as quinoa and farro, spices, apple sauce, honey, canned pumpkin, chocolate chips, nuts and dried fruits on hand at all times.

Prep for the week. Make-ahead things like broths and stews, grilled or roasted vegetables, casseroles, and grains are perfect for that mid-week meal. When you get home from work you can reheat these items, bake some quick chicken or fish, and have a delicious meal made for the family in no time!

Favorite seasonal vegetables. I love all types of squash: butternut, spaghetti, acorn, etc. They take little prep work and can be used as a leftover lunch the next day. I like to bake my squash whole since they are tough to cut when raw. Set the oven to 375 degrees, puncture the squash a few times, and bake for about an hour. The squash will be very, VERY hot when you take it out, so still be careful when cutting in to it and taking out the guts. There are plenty of recipes online, or create your own. Make your favorite sauce, throw in some sautéed shrimp, grilled chicken, or other veggies and you have a perfect meal!

Broccoli, cabbage, chard, carrots and potatoes are great additions to stews and soups on those chilly fall evenings. They are packed with vitamins and nutrients and add great flavor and consistency to any fall dish. The key to getting the most out of these veggies is to not overcook them.

Check your favorite cookbooks, blogs, and websites for delicious fall recipes and use your newly organized kitchen and pantry to its fullest!