Autumn is here and it brings some wonderfully traditional British produce! Take a look at what's going to help keep your immune system strong as the temperature drops and the nights draw in.
Autumn is well and truly setting in now and it brings a range of seasonal produce that support heart and gut health, and your immune system. Just what you need as we head towards winter and the inevitable sickness bugs make their reappearance! Try them together in a recipe that combines the best produce that autumn has to offer.
It’s not autumn without pumpkins! They might scream Halloween but these beauties provide impressive health benefits throughout the autumn months.
Like their fellow orange coloured fruits and veggies, pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s low in energy (aka calories) but packed with nutrients, including immune-supporting vitamin A, beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), and vitamin C. Plus, antioxidants in the form of lutein and zeaxanthin, which help keep your skin and eyes healthy.
They’re also a great source of fibre – perfect for keeping our gut and cholesterol levels happy too!
Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squash, courgette, cucumber and melons.
Cauliflower isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s become very popular as a rice substitute but personally, I only like it frozen in a smoothie (it makes it super creamy) or hidden away in a curry. I make sure I’m eating it though because it’s a hugely underrated vegetable.
As a cruciferous veggie, it’s a great move for supporting detoxification. Studies show it can help to remove excess oestrogen from the body by supporting the appropriate detoxification pathway in the liver.
It’s also rich in sulforaphane, which makes it anti-inflammatory and heart-friendly. This antioxidant plays a key role in reducing the damage caused by oxidative stress which can potentially set the scene for heart disease and metabolic conditions such as diabetes.
Cauliflower is a surprisingly good source of vitamin C too. Great for strong immune health and keeping your skin glowing.
And then there’s the fibre boost. Your gut bacteria will love it – even more so because the sulfur content also supports glutathione production, a key antioxidant, and helps maintain a healthy gut lining.
Onions are part of the sulphur family, which also includes shallots, leeks, chives and garlic. This versatile vegetable has some impressive health benefits, as well as being delicious.
Like cauliflower, it’s another smart choice for detoxification and can help remove toxins from the body.
Onions contain over 25 different flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. These flavonoids are also important for protecting your heart. Quercetin, one of the most potent flavonoids in onions, can help to block enzymes involved in inflammation and suppress the likes of histamine. It’s been a key immune focused antioxidant during the pandemic.
Originally from North America and now grown widely across Europe, Jerusalem Artichokes come into season when autumn turns into winter. So keep your eye out for them as this is the perfect time to enjoy them at their very best.
They’re rich in iron, which is carried by our red blood cells, and provide a host of B-vitamins, helping to keep you feeling energised.
As a prebiotic food, Jerusalem artichokes are a huge ally to the beneficial bacteria in your gut. They contain inulin, which helps boost a strain of good bacteria called bifidobacterium – and we want plenty of those guys!
Although they taste sweet, they’re full of starchy fibre. This stops blood sugar spikes so it’s a great one for supporting metabolic health, especially diabetes. They have a lower glycemic index (GI) than potatoes!
And because Jerusalem artichokes are a good source of potassium, they’re another heart-healthy choice.
Try them in the recipe below if you’re looking for a cosy and nutritious autumn-winter soup!
The beautiful red shade of pomegranate seeds is a gorgeous garnish to brighten up meals this time of year but it’s so much more than this.
Pomegranates pack a serious punch when it comes to heart health and the star player is punicic acid, the main compound found in pomegranates. It helps reduce blood pressure, lower inflammation and cut your risk of developing heart disease.*
Pomegranates are also loaded with powerful antioxidants. If you’re looking to eat more anti-inflammatory foods, you can’t go wrong. They’re three times more potent than green tea when it comes to antioxidants so it’s little wonder that they’ve been shown to reduce inflammation.
Whether you drink the juice or adding the seeds to your breakfast or winter salad, pomegranates are the perfect addition to a balanced diet.
*Pomegranates may interact with some prescription medications. If you’re on any, let’s chat about which foods can help manage your symptoms and how you can use nutrition and lifestyle to optimise your health.
Autumn’s immune-loving seasonal recipe
Pumpkin and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
- 300g pumpkin (tradition)
- 5-6 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled, diced
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 600ml vegetable broth
- 120ml coconut milk
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 4 tsp turmeric
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub the inside and coat the edges with 1/3 of the olive oil.
- Place cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Scoop the flesh of the pumpkin away from the skin, measure out the amount needed, and set aside. Store any leftover pumpkin in the fridge or freezer (or make a larger batch of soup!)
- Heat the remaining oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and onion to the pot and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until just softened
- Add the garlic, turmeric, sea salt and cinnamon. Stir to combine and cook for another minute more – be careful not to burn the ingredients (add a splash of water if needed)
- Add the vegetable broth and then stir in the roasted pumpkin
- Bring the soup to a gentle boil and then let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavours to come together. Stir in the coconut milk
- Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth
- Add salt and pepper to taste and some more vegetable broth until desired consistency is reached
Top with some seeds or sprouts and serve with toasted sourdough bread or rye and enjoy!