October has arrived and the change in season means the air is getting cooler. This often leads to people wanting richer foods and enjoying more of their ‘comfort foods’. Just because we want warming foods, that does not mean we must sacrifice our healthy eating. As it’s colder, we need more energy to keep our bodies warm and fight off colds but we need to feed ourselves the right nutrients in order to do this.
One of the most comforting and simple breakfasts is porridge. All you need is oats and water or (nut) milk and then you can top with a whole variety of things. Just make sure the mix doesn’t overflow by giving the odd stir. I like to use the biggest oats I can and I heat them on the hop in a saucepan for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I chop a banana into the mix while it’s cooking to give the porridge a lovely sweetness. In terms of toppings, the world is your oyster! Different things I use include raspberries, dried fruit, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, nuts, seeds, goji berries, granola, nut butter (although not right now as I’m seeing if I can last one week without it!), date syrup, blueberries, buckwheat grouts, dried coconut, etc, etc… but not all at once. You can add pretty much anything that takes your fancy. This is such a simple breakfast that just can’t really go wrong. Whether you use a microwave or stove, keep experimenting and discover your favourite texture and toppings for your perfect porridge.
It’s always a great idea to eat what’s in season as this means you’re getting the freshest food that hasn’t had to travel so far to come to you. In terms of fruit, there’s pears, apples, cranberries, blackberries and pumpkins, all of which are in season right now. These make great porridge toppings, snacks on their own or can be used to make crumbles and pies which can be created using much healthier sweet alternatives to refined sugar, like pure maple syrup and cinnamon. The fruit itself provides so much sweetness! What’s in season in terms of veg now includes some of my very favourite ingredients: field mushrooms, broccoli, leeks, courgette and tomatoes. These are all so versatile. Firstly, they can all be made into delicious warming soups which is one of the best comfort foods. I like to make liquid soups then top with sautéed mushrooms and seeds to give a bit more bite and make them more filling. Many of those ingredients often find their way into my pasta dishes either in the sauce or extra veg to top with. Whether cooked or raw, the veggies in season right now make a great addition to salads which can be combined with things like brown rice, quinoa or potatoes to add extra depth and a variety of seeds to give a wonderfully nutritious crunch.
Eating by the season encourages us to try out new things and allows us to get fresher food. Always remember to eat a variety of foods and colours to get the nutrients you need to fight off those autumn bugs.