ALIVE & FIT MAGAZINE Vol.12 Issue 46 Fall 2018: Healthy belly fall foods

Summer has come and gone but it’s not a reason to ignore the breathtaking beauty found in the arrival of autumn.

Shifting seasons is more than saying so long to summertime fun but rather about embracing chilly mornings, changing leaves and cuddling under the blankets.

Easing into autumn is easy with the ongoing practice of Earthing. Earthing is the physical connection between the electrical frequencies of us and the earth’s. Think of it as truly being one on one with nature. As the temperature plunges, hibernation becomes increasingly appealing. Experiencing holistic harmony with nature becomes challenging as cold weather brings us indoors. Unfortunately, leaving nature links us to man-made elements such as laminate, carpet, plastic and cement. It can immediately impact our well-being. Ironically, even living mindfully through meditation or yoga may be upon a rubber mat. Choosing to be connected to the earth is always an attainable goal. Start by switching summertime sand for autumn leaf raking and bagging. Lose the sandals and gloves. Breathe in the beauty of nature at every opportunity.

Whether you hike, bike or ride a horse, take time to explore the outdoors. Spend time with little loved ones. Escape social media for an afternoon by bringing back crafts. Nothing is more lovely than watching children gather leaves, flowers and rocks to press and paint.

Take a country drive to a local farm, orchard or market. Ontario offers an abundance of seasonal local produce.

As a Holistic Nutritionist, I’m astounded every autumn as the number of people pass up the local produce. As the weather cools, it’s time to indulge in more hearty root vegetables. Embrace the concept of “Farm to table”. Feed your body nutrient-dense foods while supporting your local farmer.

Pumpkin is so much more than a jack-o-lantern and Thanksgiving pie filling favorite. It contains a multitude of vitamins, minerals and 14 different phyto-nutrients. Like the eye enhancing carrot, pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, precursor to Vitamin A. Luetin supports eye health while quercetin fights inflammation throughout the body. Pumpkin helps lower cholesterol while also promoting healthy bowel function through soluble and insoluble fiber. Autumn- inspired healthy meals are easy. Pumpkin with a dash of Ceylon cinnamon is roasted root vegetable heaven or smoothie satisfaction. Cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, think kale, broccoli, and cabbage, contains sulphorophanes which may help reduce the risk of some cancers. Cauliflower, a once underrated vegetable has gained popularity and not due to its Vitamin C, folate and potassium. It’s all the rage with paleo and keto- diet lovers. It’s both an amazing low calorie and carbohydrate stand-in for rice, mashed potatoes and pizza crust.

Beets have a bounty of health benefits, containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals. High iron content helps anemia, stimulates red blood cells and helps supply oxygen to the cells. I love the potassium content for high blood pressure sufferers while silica is great for hair, skin and nails. Beets are also high in fiber and part of a simple test that may unlock the mystery of your digestion system. After a serving of steamed or raw beets, keep an eye out for pink surrounding your bowel movement. This will pinpoint your personal transit time. Ideally, your digestion system is efficient, appearing anytime between eighteen and twenty-four hours. If not, fiber and water should be increased. Juicing beets is a great liver detox but high in sugar. Don’t forget fiber slows the absorption of sugar. The trick is to grate raw beet into a salad or simply spiralize. Beets also have an added holistic nutrient-dense bonus. Please don’t skip on steaming their lush green chlorophyll tops for a sensational side dish.

Cabbage, another cruciferous vegetable may lower the risk of prostate, lung and colon cancer. High folic acid is a blessing for pregnant women. Cabbage is a beauty boost for skin and hair, helps ward off Alzheimer’s Disease and even helps heal ulcers. Cabbage is a versatile vegetable from steamed, to simple soup, coleslaw to fermented. Gut health is all the rage. Healthy belly bacteria is showing to be the key in unlocking positive overall health. Sauerkraut is one powerful natural probiotic.

Vegetables are the cornerstone of health but meal planning needs a little love from fabulous fruit. Autumn is all about appreciating the low-calorie nnutrien-dense apple. Quercetin, a potent flavonoid, is linked to lowering blood pressure and aiding in reducing the severity of asthma attacks. Powerful antioxidants are ever abundant, helping to protect the body from free-radical damage. Apples are a great source of Vitamin C and fiber on-the-go making them perfect for healthy snacking. High fibre promotes fullness and helps regulate cholesterol. Spending the day in an orchard picking apples is a great “Earthing” opportunity. Apple crisp, pie, jam or roasted, green, red or yellow apples easily compliment autumn vegetable menu planning.

Every good recipe involves the addition of spices. Garlic is a timeless herbal remedy used around the world. Garlic produces a chemical called allicin. Garlic is one magical multipurpose herb used internally and externally. As a flavor booster it’s unparalleled. Garlic is a blood thinner, immune booster, parasite killer and used to lower blood pressure, glucose and even cholesterol. Roasted, it’s a stand alone side dish, but also a flavor enhancer for vegetables, breads and marinades. Don’t get me started on humus!

Embrace autumn by flavoring fall dishes with home grown summer spices. Drying herbs, infusing oils or vinegars is a gourmet way to save a little sunshine for wintertime favorites. Another simple way to bring garden goodness to cold weather days is adding chopped herbs to water and freezing in ice-cube trays for fare with a flair.

Rosemary is a versatile herb for cooking with a distinct woodsy-citrus fragrance. It’s a potent antibacterial and antioxidant while being anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antiseptic. For centuries, its array of essential oils have been a popular hair growth remedy. Rosemary is rich in many minerals and vitamins, but most notable is manganese. Rosemary is best known as a memory booster, making it the perfect essential oil for a work desk diffuser.

Basil is more than a tomato topper. Of course it’s high antioxidant content, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are highly beneficial, as this natural adaptogen is a serious stress buster. Perfect on pizza or pesto, yes, but basil’s essential oil may help manage depression and diabetes while supporting liver function.

Parsley is not just a garnish and garden breath mint. Parsley is packed full of immune intensifying vitamin C and loads of bone health helping vitamin K. Flavonoids fight free radical damage, but parsley is a dandy diuretic helping treat edema, kidney and gallbladder stones. Juicing parsley helps eliminate water and heavy metals without depleting the body of potassium. Don’t discard this tiny sprig, it’s been cultivated by man for more than 2000 years.

Living holistically is about balance and seeking peace by acknowledging mind, body and spirit as one. As you settle into the notion of chilly nights, stay connected to living mindfully. Hibernation can be positive, empowering and the perfect time to remain in an attitude of gratitude. As the last leaf falls, just before the ground freezes, plant upcoming springtime bliss. I urge you to close your eyes, mix a rainbow of daffodil and tulip bulbs and plant without a plan. “April showers bring may flowers!”.


Mercedes Kay Gold is Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer living in Toronto. She has been published in various publications. When not in the gym, she can be found blogging all things holistic and spending time with her sons.