Eating the Fall Harvest
By Diana Dibblee, RD
all in the Maritimes is spectacular! It is my favorite season with the shorter days, colorful leaves and late, warm sunshine! It is easy to cook in the fall as the garden is full of a healthy and hearty harvest. I love squash, zucchini, parsnips, pumpkins and tomatoes, to name a few. Today I cooked up a squash curry soup. I had baked the squash in the oven with some butter and cinnamon in advance and had it ready in the fridge. I cooked some chopped onions in a little canola oil and water, then threw in some spices (curry, garlic, basil, pepper), carrots and low sodium vegetable broth. Then I added the chopped squash and simmered it for awhile, so delicious and easy.
The local farmers markets are a great place to find fresh vegetables and other fall fruits at this time of year. There, you have a great opportunity to meet the farmers and ask them how they grew the foods you eat. Here in Nova Scotia you can find local markets throughout the province, check out http://farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca/find-a-market/ It is easy these days to stock up on apples, pears, and cranberries.
You can also order fresh produce to be dropped off to your door or to your local organic market. There are many small farmers that have co-ops often called Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) that sell to families throughout the year. They often include recipes that give you tips and suggestions for cooking with their seasonal harvest.
If you do most of your shopping in the grocery stores, try to source locally and discover where the food you buy comes from. Are those apples from the valley or do they come from far away? Is this butternut squash grown in gardens nearby or is it shipped from great distances? Often, you see signs posted where the fresh produce comes from, look for the label; grown in Canada and start asking your store managers for more locally sourced food.
This past weekend, I was given two big zucchini and a pile of fresh tomatoes (my parents have a big garden). I cooked up some chopped onions, added in some spices then continued cooking with loads of cut up zucchini and tomatoes- it was a super spaghetti sauce. We also enjoyed it on top of brown rice for a simple vegetarian meal. I grated some more zucchini and local carrots and apples to make easy and yummy zucchini raisin muffins. They are chock-full of vegetables and are a healthy start to your day with some milk and a handful of nuts.
The easiest harvest meal is to buy a sack of local root vegetables found at any market or grocery store (think cabbage, parsnips, carrots and turnip). Throw the lot into a pot with some onions, spices and cooked cubed beef. Simmer over low heat for a nutritious supper stew. Dessert can be cinnamon baked apples!
I have shared just a few of my favorites for this glorious time of year. Experiment in the kitchen and see what wonderful creations you create with local and healthy foods harvested from a garden near you. ENJOY!