Choosing food items according to the season, so foods that are typically harvested at that given time of year, is important. It will allow you to purchase local and fresh food items while also helping to ensure that you are providing your body with what it requires at the given time.
In the hotter weather, for example, we want to be eating lightly cooked, lighter foods that are water dense to help keep us hydrated. In the colder weather, however, we want to be eating heartier food items that require more cooking, meals that will help to keep us warm on those cold days.
Due to our Canadian climate we are not going to have the same availability to fresh fruits and vegetables as some of the warmer southern climates, but you will be surprised what is available to us in the colder weather thanks to greenhouse planting.
There are a few great resources to help you determine what is available at any given time of the year; Foodland has a great availability chart for Ontario at www.foodlandontario.ca
Some of the food items you’ll want to incorporate into your meal planning for fall and winter include:
Try some of the following recipes to help keep you toasty warm this winter:
Sweet Potato Soup
2-3 good size sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp mild curry paste
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 can lite coconut milk
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into cubes; set aside.
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat - oook onion, garlic, ginger and curry paste - stirring occasionally until softened
Add Sweet potatoes and stir for 1 minute until coated.
Add stock and bring to boil. Simmer 10 minutes until potatoes are tender.
Puree in blender with coconut milk.
This soup is very tasty. The ginger adds a lot of flavour. A very rich and comforting soup.
2 butternut squash (beige coloured, pear shaped squash) (sometimes I choose two different types such as butternut and pumpkin)
3 onions, chopped
1 head garlic
1 tbsp curry powder, mild
2 tins organic chicken or vegetable broth (found in natural foods section of grocery store)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1-2 tbsps. maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350o
Wash squash and pierce twice. Place both squash whole, in a large baking dish or baking sheet. Bake at 350o for one hour or until well done. In the same oven, take one head of garlic, slice small amount off top and drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil. Wrap in foil and place next to squash.
When well done, let squash cool, then cut lengthwise and scoop out seeds and discard. Scoop out the squash and place in large pot.
In frying pan, add 2 tsps olive oil and sauté onions until quite golden and soft. Add curry powder and ginger, and blend for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and squash. Squeeze garlic from its skin and add to squash mixture. Mix well and simmer for 5 mins to blend flavours.
In small batches, blend in blender until creamy smooth. Add more broth or a little water if needed. Put back into pot and reheat on low heat – add maple syrup to taste.
Serve with crusty bread. Freezes well.
Serves 6 to 8
Perfect Hearty Chicken Stew
This slow cooker stew is easy, full of taste and will provide you with a hearty meal on those cold winter nights.
Place approximately 1 cup of water in the bottom of the slow cooker.
Place 5-6 medium sized washed and cut potatoes in the slow cooker along with 5 -6 medium sized washed, peeled and sliced carrots and one large washed, peeled and diced onion. Add your favourite herbs and spices and turn on high.
I prefer to cook the chicken separately in a roasting pan. Place one whole chicken in approximately 1 inch of water in a roasting pan with your favourite herbs and spices. Cook at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours or until lightly browned with no indication of pink when sliced at the bone. (cooking time may vary from oven-to-oven)
Allow the chicken to cool just slightly then remove the chicken from the bone. Add the chicken to the slow cooker and reduce the setting to low and allow it to cook for another 2.5 hours.
You can now add whatever additional vegetables you choose (diced celery, green beans, corn etc.) and allow to cook for an additional hour.
Just prior to serving prepare a small amount of cornstarch in some boiling water, stirring well to eliminate any clumping and stir into the slow cooker contents to thicken.