Editor's note: Erin O’Leary Stewart is the co-owner of Define Body & Mind, a boutique-style wellness concept. With a location on 35th Street in Austin, and a soon-to-open South Lamar Boulevard studio, Define gives Austinites a personal experience to achieve fitness and nutrition goals. O’Leary teaches on the importance of using natural, seasonal ingredients aimed towards healing to build a balanced and grounded lifestyle.
With fall underway and cooler temperatures rolling in, what’s available locally has shifted to fresh autumnal produce. What you put in your body is of paramount importance, and eating whole foods that are delicious, sustainable, local, and seasonal is vital to your overall health and wellbeing.
I like to educate people on wholesome nourishment to promote sustainable health based around seasonal eating practices. Seasonal eating allows us to live in tune with our environment and nature’s rhythm, which in turn keeps us centered and functioning to our full potential. There is a reason why root vegetables only grow in the fall and winter months. We should eat grounding, warming, and hearty foods during colder times of the year. Hydrating foods — zucchini, peaches, and corn — keep us light, airy, and cool during the hottest times of the year.
Foods in season taste better and provide more nutrients. Fresh, locally harvested foods have their full flavors intact and bring variety to your meals throughout the year. Below you'll find seasonal recipes featuring my favorite fruits and vegetables to eat during the fall.
Carrots and sweet potatoes
There is nothing easier than making one of my blender curry soups with carrots and sweet potatoes. These ingredients add immune system and digestion boosting elements to your average fall soup.
Curried fall soup
2 cups chopped sweet potatoes, peeled and steamed
1 cup Define Foods Glow juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon light coconut milk
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Place all ingredients in a blender on high until fully blended. Place in a saucepan until heated through. Divide into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk and fresh cilantro.
This is a perfect little appetizer or soup companion with a warm and fuzzy feel-good finish. With just a touch of honey, a crunch from walnuts, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, it all comes together for a complete one-bite satisfaction.
4 slices of good fresh bread or 1/2 baguette, sliced in half length-wise
4 small pears, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 fennel bulb, sliced 1/4-inch thick (reserve fronds for garnish)
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
3-4 tablespoons good local honey
1 handful walnuts, toasted and chopped
Flaky sea salt, like Maldon
Set oven to broil. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet with a pinch of red pepper flakes on the stove. Add the fennel slices with a pinch of salt and saute until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Next, add half of the pears to the same pan with another pinch of salt, drizzle of olive oil and honey, and saute a few minutes until cooked through. Set aside.
Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet under the broiler for about one minute, or until toasted.
To assemble, spread a little mustard on each piece of toast. Top with a few slices of fresh pear, followed by some cooked pear and then the fennel. Top with walnuts and drizzle with honey. Garnish with a good pinch of flaky sea salt and fennel fronds.
This moist spice cake is the perfect fall weather breakfast or afternoon treat. With its honey taste from the persimmon, this cake only uses a little low glycemic coconut or maple sugar to allow for a subtle and satisfying sweetness.
Makes 1 loaf
2 cups Spelt flour (or other flour of choice)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup persimmon puree*
1 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups maple or coconut sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and fit loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the persimmon puree, oil, and sugar until well combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Gradually add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in the walnuts, stirring until combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
*To make persimmon puree, remove the skin and seeds from about 5 to 6 ripe persimmons and puree in a food processor until smooth.
Beets and cauliflower
This next recipe is a great way to enjoy a salad during the cooler months and the easiest way to incorporate your favorite fall vegetables. Satisfying and full of flavor and interesting textures, this salad comes together in minutes with a little bit of prep ahead of time. Feel free to swap out with the veggies you prefer or find fresh at your local farmers' market.
Warm autumn salad with pistachio cilantro dressing
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut on a bias
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 large shallot, cut into wedges
2-3 beets, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
4-5 sprigs thyme
4-5 sage leaves, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
2-3 ounces hearty greens, like arugula or spinach
2 ounces Define Foods Balance granola
For pistachio cilantro dressing
1 bunch cilantro
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup raw pistachios
Sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the carrots, cauliflower, and shallots on a rimmed baking sheet and the sweet potatoes and beets on another. Drizzle both with olive oil, maple syrup, and fresh herbs and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, sea salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until tender but crisp.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, toss the warm roasted root vegetables with the greens and place on a platter. Drizzle the cilantro dressing over the top, and sprinkle with Define Foods Balance granola as desired.
All recipes courtesy of Erin O’Leary Stewart, Define Foods.