Moving into the cooler months of September and October, the change in weather brings a change in what’s ready for picking and eating. Not only is eating seasonally more sustainable, but there are many health benefits associated with the seasonal foods of this time of year.
The closer to its origin (where it has been grown) means the fresh produce you’re consuming contains more nutrients. In fact, the moment a piece of food is picked, its nutrient density begins to decline. Nature does a great job of providing us with the right foods at the right times, as eating certain foods can help you stay energised and can even help ease your seasonal allergies.
And of course, given the current cost of living crisis in the UK, increasing food prices are at the top of our minds and for the majority we are noticing our food bills increasing. However, there is often a price advantage when it comes to eating more seasonally, as when food is more readily available, the price tends to fall.
Mushrooms are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light when grown, increasing their concentration of vitamin D. In the cooler, darker months, these vegetables are a great addition to our diets as an easy way to increase our vitamin D intake whilst the sun isn’t shining so brightly! Also, with cooler weather people are generally more susceptible to illness, so the soluble fibre (polysaccharides), which is also found in mushrooms can help activate parts of your immune system and increases your body’s ability to fight infection.
Top tip: To really get the most out of your mushrooms, leave them in direct sunlight for 15-20 minutes before using. Studies show that this may result in levels of vitamin D2 as high as 10mcg per 100g fresh weight. When ready to use, simply wipe your mushrooms clean.
This tasty orange vegetable is jam packed with vitamins! It is both a source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which each play a key role in strengthening our immune systems and fighting infections.
Fun fact: From a Botanists perspective, a pumpkin is a fruit because it’s a product of the seed-bearing structure of flowering plants. However, because pumpkins are less sweet and more savoury from a culinary perspective, they are categorised as a vegetable!
This leafy green is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat! In fact, just 70g of kale contains 9% of calcium, 206% of Vitamin A and 684% of Vitamin K requirements for the day.
It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both antioxidants that specifically support eye-health and is a great source of dietary fibre. So, any meal you can add this vegetable to will be beneficial! Try the recipe below which pairs Pumpkin and Kale together – win, win!
A staple in any kitchen, carrots are not only an affordable vegetable but also packed with nutrients. They are linked to lower cholesterol levels and can also be beneficial for individuals with low vitamin A levels, who are more likely to experience night blindness. However, this condition can diminish by eating carrots due to their carotenoid content.
Top tip: Although an easy and healthy snack when eaten raw, the best way to really get the most out of the health benefits is by cooking them, as absorption of beat-carotene increases.
Why not try this tasty Instant Pot Carrot-Based Recipe:
Another kitchen staple, and one that can be used in so many recipes, garlic contains an active compound called allicin which is linked to multiple health benefits. Several studies suggest garlic makes platelets (the cells involved in blood clotting) less likely to clump together and accumulate on artery walls, which can reduce the risk of heart attacks. Its ability to widen blood vessels can therefore allow blood to flow more freely, lowering blood pressure. Furthermore, it is packed with anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal benefits too, so whether using fresh, frozen, or ready chopped from a jar, it is worth adding garlic to as many dishes as you can!
One of my favourite garlic infused recipes is Mexican Beef Tacos, made quickly in an Instant Pot; or check out these recipes from the Instant Brands website which bring that garlic flavour too.
The trusty cauliflower can be served in so many different ways – from the classic cauliflower cheese or roasted florets, to new recipes where it becomes rice, a pizza base, or an alternative to chicken wings.
However you choose to serve this ingredient, it is full of choline, which many people are lacking, and can help prevent cholesterol from accumulating in the liver. It is also rich in sulforaphane, a plant compound that can reduce risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
An easy dish to add cauliflower to is a curry – particularly if you aren’t too keen on the taste of this vegetable – as when served with a curry sauce, this flavour is absorbed into the cauliflower florets instead. Try this Instant Pot Cauliflower recipe created by Instant Pot home chef @jcookingodyssey:
Alongside the health benefits of these seasonal ingredients, eating fruits and vegetables that are in season in your geographic area is both good from a sustainability perspective and the potential to be kinder on the wallet.