Change Of Season, Change Of Diet

Wow, page views for my Harvest-Inspired Autumn Recipes have been off the charts this week. It makes me happy to know that they're being shared with folks on Twitter and Facebook too. Enjoy!

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Autumn marches on. The days have become shorter (sigh), leaves are turning gold and red, and the air is noticeably chillier. No sign of frost yet, thank goodness. My beloved backyard garden continues to keep me well fed with fresh seasonal produce.

This week the garden gnomes gifted me with another variety of squash. That  big guy up top is a kabocha (kuh-boh-cha), also known as Japanese pumpkin. I had never eaten kabocha prior to last year, but, oh my, it was love at first bite. Its intense yellow-orange flesh is surprisingly sweet and slightly nutty, a perfect addition to round out a hearty stew.

It's around this time of year when I begin adding cooked foods into my diet. During the hot humid days of summer, I have no desire to consume anything heavy or cooked. I walk out the back door and juice my garden each morning, enjoy large meal-sized salads of just-picked veggies, or mono-meals of ripe, juicy melon.

But, taking cues from my own body, when the temperatures start to plummet and days shorten, cooked grains, legumes and veggies beckon. That's really how I prefer to eat: fresh, local, in season, and listening to the innate wisdom of my body.

With my kabocha as inspiration, I incorporated garden-fresh heirloom tomatoes, some local organic sweet corn I had in the freezer, and black-eyed peas into an Indian-flavor stew. In addition to their high protein content, black-eyed peas are an excellent source of potassium and iron — a great choice if you are vegan!

Curried Kabocha Stew
1 1/2 C black eyed peas
2 Tbsp cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
1 kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 bay leaf
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 C corn kernels
1 1/4 C vegetable broth

1. Place the black-eyed peas into a large bowl or stockpot and submerge in cold water. Allow to soak overnight. The next day, up to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars that cause gas will have dissolved into the soaking water. No toots!

2. After thoroughly rinsing and draining, add the black-eyed peas to a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until peas are soft when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside. (NOTE: if you like your beans mushy – I do not – you'll need to cook them longer.)

4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and soften the onion and garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the curry powder and turmeric.

5. Add the kabocha, bell pepper and bay leaf. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

6. Stir in the tomatoes, corn kernels, black-eyed peas, and vegetable broth. Cover and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.

Serve warm with a favorite salad. Enjoy!

Do you find that your diet changes with the seasons? How do you prefer to eat when the weather is cooler?

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