Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. It’s been hard to miss its arrival in the past month or so. I’ve heard all sorts of chatter in person and online about the exciting Pumpkin Spice Latte returning to Starbucks. Is it just me – or is pumpkin the next trendy food?
I’ve even had full conversations with my husband about how so many women are drawn to the idea of “pumpkin everything!” It’s become a pretty good joke in our house – and of course, has nothing to do with the fact that I bought a six-pack of organic canned pumpkin from Costco last week.
So why are we (both men and women) drawn to these root vegetables this time of year? What is it about them that makes us crave them – and make them so great for our bodies?
Root vegetables of any kind provide a grounding and rooting energy that so many of us are looking for once the seasons start to change. As we turn inward with the cooler air, these foods help to increase our stability, stamina and endurance physically and mentally.
From a nutritional standpoint, root vegetables are a rich source of complex carbohydrates – meaning that you get a slow and steady release of sugars into the body.
Refined simple sugar foods can cause your blood sugar levels to spike then drop, leaving you feeling terrible, hungry and exhausted soon after. Complex carbohydrates actually help to regulate your blood sugar levels, allowing you to stay energized, focused and keep your moods and cravings in check.
While I can’t provide a biological reasoning that women are drawn to “Pumpkin everything!!!” – I can see why it’s so coveted this time of year (even by me). You are probably craving that pumpkin spice latte right now, aren’t you?
Well instead of hopping in the car to grab that coffee drink, why don’t you try one of my favorite Pumpkin Pie Smoothies instead? Better yet, get the benefits of these other two grounding recipes for lunch or dinner too!
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- 1 ½ cups coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- ½ frozen banana
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tbsp ground flax or chia seeds
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp maple syrup
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until creamy and smooth. Optionally, add ice for an even frostier fall treat.
Squash Kale & Quinoa Soup
- 1 medium onion
- 1/2 bunch curly kale
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 4 cups chopped butternut squash (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove fresh garlic)
- 4 cups chicken broth (you can also use vegetable broth)
- 2 cups water
- Salt and pepper
- Roughly chop the onion. Finely chop the kale.
- Add the butternut squash, onion, quinoa, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, chicken broth, water, and a pinch each of salt and pepper to a soup pot over medium high heat.
- Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked. Set a timer and go about doing other things.
- Optionally for a more smooth texture, use an immersion blender or work in batches pouring the soup into a stand blender to break up some of the larger pieces of onion and squash. I didn’t blend too much as I wanted a little bit of texture left. You can also leave it in its more chunky consistency.
- Add the chopped kale to the soup, give it a stir, and it’s done. The kale will continue cooking in the hot soup. Serve immediately or portion out for later meals.
Stuffed Acorn Squash & Quinoa Pilaf
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 cup dry quinoa (pre-soaked 3 hours)
- 1 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 apple
- 1 onion
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- Salt and pepper
For the Squash:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds.
- Place the halves in a baking dish with sides, cut side up.
- Add 2 cups water to the base of the baking dish.
- Cover the dish with foil.
- Roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil, then cook for an additional 30-45 minutes until the squash is fork-tender.
For the Quinoa Pilaf:
- Start prepping this with about 30-35 minutes left on the squash.
- Core and chop the apple. Chop the celery and onion.
- In a medium skillet with sides over medium high heat, preheat the olive oil.
- Add the chopped celery, apple, and onion and cook about 5 to 10 minutes, until all ingredients have softened.
- Next add the poultry seasoning, chopped walnuts, a pinch each of salt and pepper, quinoa, and stock. Stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the lid and stir to combine.
- Serve in hollowed roasted acorn squash halves.
To enjoying fall!