We are in the heart of autumn, and with this season comes an abundance of fall vegetables, including many different kinds of pumpkin, yams, and butternut squash. These beautifully colored vegetables contain lots of carotenoids which give them their deep yellow to orange/red color, and are a great source of antioxidants. Eating these foods helps to boost immune function so that you can better fight colds and flus. They also contain lots of minerals including Magnesium, which is important for stabilizing adrenal function. The adrenal glands control several functions in the body including metabolism, the sleep/wake cycle, inflammatory responses, and hormone balance. Magnesium is also the quintessential nutrient necessary for energy production, and is easily depleted, so eating these vegetables can help in sustaining energy levels and preventing dips later in the day.
I often talk about roots vegetables, and those that grow close to the earth as having a ‘grounding’ quality. It’s common to crave sweet and sugary foods when we are feeling anxious and untethered. We seek sugar for an instance sense of calm and to feel more grounded. However, as I mention time and time again, sugar is incredibly destabilizing for brain chemistry, and the rapid spike in serotonin that sugar produces is usually followed by a crash, followed by even more cravings. Knowing the detrimental affects of sugar in the body, a better way to satiate these cravings (and help prevent them in the first place) is to include these ‘grounding’ vegetables in our diet on a regular basis. As a bonus they are subtly sweet, high in fiber and low in calories!
Butternut squash, yams and pumpkins are perfect for soups. Combine them with complimentary spices like Thai curry or nutmeg for a delicious flavor. You can also just cut them in half and bake them in the oven, with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Another favorite of mine is yam fries. Simply cut the yams in the shape of french fries, toss with olive oil, salt & pepper, and perhaps some Rosemary, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
I hope you are enjoying this fall season and that this Motivational Monday tip inspires you to include these vegetables in your meals, especially while they are so abundant at the farm stands and supermarkets. If you have your own favorite way to prepare these vegetables, please share your recipes in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
Thai-Spiced Pumpkin Soup
This nutritious soup is perfect for this time of year! Including some of the most bright, beautiful, and sweet vegetables around this season, the ingredients will give your immune system a great boost and provide you with a calm sense of grounding. This healthy soup is delicious and one of my fall favorites! Tip: Make more than you need and freeze for another day.
- 2 acorn squash, pumpkins, or other smallish winter squash,PLUS one yam
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 14-ounce can coconut milk(low fat)
- 2 to 3 teaspoon (or more) red Thai curry paste
- 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt (or to taste)
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the oven racks in the middle. Carefully cut each squash/pumpkin/yam into halves (or quarters). Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, place on a baking sheet skin sides down, and place in the oven. Roast for about an hour (perhaps less….but watch them periodically so they don’t burn) or until the squash is tender throughout.
When the pumpkin/squash are cool enough to handle scoop it into a large pot over medium high heat. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth and curry paste and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and blend in a blender (in batches) until smooth consistency. Bring up to a simmer again and add the salt. Adjust curry paste and add until preferred spiciness. Top with pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes.