Autumn ‘tis the season for hearty fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, butternut squash and sweet potatoes. A lot of the seasonal produce at this time of year happens to be orange and yellow, the colors that indicate carotenoids, like beta-carotene (which is a pre-curser to vitamin A) are present. Carotenoids are potent phytochemicals naturally accruing in fruits and vegetables that give them their rich orange and yellow hues. They happen to function as powerful antioxidants that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This makes them incredibly valuable in fighting cancer, preventing cellular damage and slowing the aging process. This also means healthy skin and hair too! And of course, vitamin A is essential for eye health and preventing macular degeneration.
Since autumn brings these vitamin A rich fruits and veggies, fall is the perfect time for warm, comforting soups, stews, cider, casseroles and baked goods. Here are some fall festive, warm and cozy recipes to try this season.
Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Apples, Cranberries & Pecans
- 2 whole Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Tbsp Grass-fed butter
- 2 Tbsp Applesauce
- 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
- ¼ cup Chopped Pecans
- ¼ cup Dried Cranberries
- ¼ cup Peeled And Finely Chopped Apple
- ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 pinch Salt
- 2 dashes Olive Oil
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Wash and peel the sweet potatoes 3/4 of the way, leaving some peel on the bottom of the potato. Lay wooden chopsticks on each side of the potato and slice as thinly as you can.
- Rub them with a little olive oil. Oil a baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients.
- Carefully try to push some of the stuffing mixture between the slices. Pile the remaining stuffing on top of each potato. Drizzle any remaining liquid over the potatoes.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, being careful not to burn the topping. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Savory Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 butternut squash; peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
- 2 carrots, cut in thick slices
- 1 med onion, cubed
- 2 gala apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp of dried sage
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 cup light cream
- 32 oz vegetable stock, pre-made or from scratch
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Toss squash, carrots, onion, apples, and garlic in large bowl with olive oil and the dried herbs.
- Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes, or until squash is tender and lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and place the vegetable mixture into a large soup pot over medium heat.
- Add your vegetable stock. Simmer for 15 minutes and then remove the pot from the heat.
- Working in 2-3 batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. You can add more vegetable stock if the soup is too thick. Stir in cream until thoroughly mixed and serve!
And now for something a little more indulgent…
Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Butter Cream or Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (use whole wheat or gluten-free flour if you wish)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (use coconut sugar if you wish)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (use raw sugar or even honey if you wish)
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 1/4 cups canned pure pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, optional (you can sprinkle them on top of the frosted loaf if you wish)
- Position your oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5″ loaf pan; set aside.
- Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice in a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined; set aside.
- In another bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs on medium-high speed for two minutes or until lightened in color. Add the brown sugar, mixing for about 2 minutes, then the granulated sugar, mixing for about 1 minute. Add the orange and lemon zests, if using, and beat for another minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Drizzle in the oil with beater on medium-low. Reduce speed to low and add the pumpkin puree. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients in two additions and blend for 10-15 seconds just until incorporated. Fold in the pecans using a rubber spatula.
- Spoon the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
If you would like a healthier option without the extra sugar and fat, you really don’t have to add any frosting at all… the bread is plenty good without it. If you are going to frost the loaf, however, you can make the frosting while the loaf is cooling…
Pumpkin Butter Cream Frosting:
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Tablespoons canned pure pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons half & half or milk
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional, for sprinkling on top
Cream the butter, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and vanilla, blending well. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Add half & half or milk and blend well.
NOTE: This makes a very thick butter cream frosting. If you want a thinner, creamier frosting, add more half & half or milk until you get the desired consistency.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar (more as needed)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
For the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar slowly and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and cinnamon. If necessary, add more powdered sugar until the frosting is firm enough to hold its shape but still light and fluffy.