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Autumn is officially here in Australia, which means the weather starts to become a little fresher and this can lead us to crave more earthy and warming foods.

A change in season can also bring about a change in the fresh produce available at the markets and within grocery stores.

With all of this in mind, here I am sharing some effortless ways to tweak your diet for autumn:

What’s in Season
I have spoken about seasonal eating many times, not only is it a more sustainable way to eat but the food is also more nutritious, partly due to the fact it hasn’t travelled as far to reach our shelves. Eating seasonally is also a fantastic way to encourage diet diversity, which is a key factor in taking care of gut health.

With that being said, here are some key fresh produce in season in Autumn which lend well to warmer dishes:

Veggies: artichokes, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, beetroot, daikon, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, squash, turnips, corn, choko, cauliflower, fennel and okra.

Fruit: blackberries, custard apple, figs, mandarin, pear, persimmon, plums, rhubarb, strawberries and tamarillos.

Herbs: dill, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, rosemary, sage, thyme and chilli.

Simple tweaks to summer dishes
If craving warmer foods, you don’t have to turn your entire diet on its head. Here are some simple ways to make ‘cooling’ summer dishes that little bit warmer:

Smoothie: add ground spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, mixed spice to create a warming feel. For the uber brave, try some chilli!

Cereal: swap to a porridge or try baking some homemade muesli bars with banana, eggs and nuts/seeds for an on the go ‘cereal’ based breakfast bar.

Salads: add warmed up protein such as falafel, chicken or poached eggs and roasted veggies warmed up before serving. Try adding a grain to salads such as brown rice, quinoa or freekeh to give the salad more body. Spices such as turmeric, chilli, cumin can be added to dressings to give the salad an earthy and warm taste. For example try 1 tbsp. tahini, 1 tbsp. lemon juice or ACV, drop of honey, pinch spices, salt and pepper and water to thin.

Sandwich / wrap: warming these up can be as simple as heating up the protein to go instead or toasting the sandwich / wrap before serving. A yummy combo this time of year is goat cheese, grated beetroot, roasted sweet potato, spinach and protein of choice (eg chicken, tuna, eggs, tofu) and toasted.

Stir-fry: usually considered a lighter summery dish, this can absolutely still be enjoyed during cooler nights. The key is not only adding chilli to the dressing but using some earthy ingredients such as mushrooms, water chestnuts, sweet potato, carrot, legumes even (chickpeas or black beans) – be creative!

Autumn Recipe Ideas
To give you a bit of inspo for autumn eating, here are a few recipe ideas, which lend well to the cooler months.

Figs Stuffed with Spiced Nut Butter

This is a simple snack, which makes a nice change from just plain old fruit.

Serves 1
Ingredients
1 fresh fig
1 tbsp. nut butter
pinch cinnamon and mixed spice
sprinkle of hemp seeds or crushed nuts

Method
Mix nut butter and spices together, adjust spice amount to suit.

Cut fig in half, top each half with ½ tsp. of the nut butter and hemp/nuts, enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin with Chilli Tahini Drizzle

 Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients
½ medium pumpkin, cut into chunks
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Chilli Tahini Drizzle
1/3 cup tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed
1-2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 pinch chilli flakes or chilli powder
salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper, add pumpkin to the tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 45min until tender and golden. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, mix together the drizzle ingredients, adjust spiciness to suit and add extra orange juice until a runny but still thickish consistency is formed.

Put pumpkin on a serving plate, drizzle with tahini dressing and finish with a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

Tip: if you don’t like chilli, omit and replace with cumin, sprinkle pumpkin with chopped nuts and seeds.