With the change of seasons from summer to fall, there is often a shift in our cooking. Not only do we use slightly different ingredients, but we may also use a few different kitchen tools. Let’s explore how cooking at home changes in the fall and tips on how to incorporate healthier cooking techniques.
You can’t talk about fall cooking without talking about soups. Soups aren’t as appealing on a hot summer day, but they are the perfect fall meal. As the days get shorter and colder, soups are a perfect choice that will warm us up at the end of a cold day.
Soups can also be jam-packed with nutrients that nourish our bodies. Soup recipes can often require a variety of canned goods. While using canned goods cuts down on the prep time of a meal, the sodium level is often higher in canned goods. To help limit the sodium amount in your soups, try using canned goods that have reduced sodium content. For example, many canned beans, canned vegetables, and soup stocks or broths have a reduced sodium option that you can purchase. Labels you may see on cans include:
— Low sodium: less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
— Reduced sodium: at least 25% less than original product.
— Sodium free: less than 5 mg per serving.
— Light or lite: 50% less than original product.
— No salt added: no salt added in processing.
For the average adult, the daily recommendation for sodium is about 2,300 milligrams, which is equal to about 1 teaspoon of table salt. The FDA reported that on average an adult American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. Making small changes to the foods we eat can decrease the total amount of sodium we consume each day.
Another fall cooking technique that warms up the house and adds a variety of veggies to your meals is roasted vegetables. This is a perfect side dish that can be paired with most meals. Common vegetables that are great roasted include potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, mushrooms and butternut squash.
A couple other unique vegetables that I love to include when roasting vegetables are parsnips, beets and even purple cabbage.
Including a variety of veggies of different colors adds to the nutrients in your meal. When making roasted veggies all you need to do is clean the veggies, chop them up into pieces, coat them with olive oil and add any spices of your choosing. Then you’ll roast them in the oven at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes.
A healthy eating tip that you can incorporate during the fall and winter months is to switch up your breakfast food choices. Summer is the perfect time to use the fresh berries at breakfast. They go perfect with cereal or on a yogurt parfait. But now that berries are out of season, what can we do to still make healthy food choices at breakfast? One option is eating oatmeal for breakfast. This heart-healthy food is packed with nutrients, including fiber and magnesium. There are endless mix-ins you can add to your oatmeal, here are a couple of suggestions for mix-in pairings you can try:
— Diced apples, cinnamon, pecans.
— Sliced bananas, walnuts, brown sugar
— Sliced canned peaches (in 100% fruit juice), vanilla coffee creamer (1 tsp), candied walnuts
— Vanilla Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, shredded coconut
— Pumpkin puree, chopped pecans, maple syrup
Adding nuts or seeds to your oatmeal will increase the amount of protein and help you feel fuller longer. Try out one of these oatmeal ideas or create your own.
As the seasons change, try to embrace new cooking techniques and the new produce available in those seasons. Using produce that is in-season will add variety to your meals throughout the year.
Sometimes it can be daunting to try new recipes with new ingredients. Cooking a meal takes time and it can be disappointing to try a new recipe and it doesn’t turn out the way you expected.
USU Extension provides you with resources to increase your confidence in your cooking skills and to help you find new recipes. A few times a month, I offer a free virtual cooking class called Cooking at Home with Jenna. You can find the classes on the USU Extension Event Calendar. These classes are for any age and cooking level. They will help you increase confidence in your cooking skills and try new recipes.
If you are looking for new recipes, follow me on Instagram @usuhealthyliving or on the USU Extension Nutrition website. If you have any questions you can contact Jenna at the USU Extension office, at (435)752-6263.