Ah, the Fall! My favorite time of year!
The air gets a slight crisp chill, the trees become a myriad of colors as sunset falls over them. We bring out the cozy sweaters and trade our flip flops for boots. Embracing the calm before the storm, enjoying the warmth of the fall flavors. Planning for the holidays while sipping a warm and creamy caramel pear cider!
Yes, I mean PEAR, not Pumpkin. I am one of the alternative coffee shop connoisseurs that does not appreciate the PSL. Nothing against pumpkin at all, I love it in many other recipes. Just not drinks, and since it is a little over-done for Fall recipes in general, I tend to not do many pumpkin themed dishes.
Pumpkin desserts however are still a staple! See this great recipe from my Uncle John from last Fall’s post – Pumpkin Pie Modified. I am also always up for one of those cream cheese filled pumpkin muffins but those are usually out of stock by Halloween and I have yet to perfect that recipe at home.
Pumpkin is just one of the many great winter squashes out there. Keep it in your regular Fall menu planning as it is high in antioxidants, immune boosting vitamins, potassium, fiber and more.
Awesome Autumn Options that are NOT Pumpkin
We all know about the Great Pumpkin, but there are some lesser known but healthy and scrumptious Fall flavors to add to the rotation.
Carrots are an all season veggie that gets sweeter in the Fall. This makes them great to use in savory as well as sweet dishes and it is easy to grow your own even in the winter months. Carrots are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, as well as improving skin and eye health and detoxifying our systems.
Ginger has been used in medicinal as well as culinary circles for centuries. Originally used in India, it’s not surprising it is one of the ingredients to a traditional chai. Ginger improves cognitive function and blood circulation, aids in digestion and detoxification, reduces inflammation and nausea, and energizes your body. It also happens to be chock full of B vitamins and other important minerals.
Cinnamon use dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt when it was a rare and valuable gift. Thankfully today, it is common to find in stores so we can all enjoy it. When ranked against other common spices, Cinnamon was found to have more antioxidant activity than even garlic and oregano. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and boosts heart health. Cinnamon also fights infections and can be used as a preservative.
The unappreciated cousin of the Apple, Pears are the “other” Fall fruit, ripening when the air turns crisp. Full of vitamins and potassium, high in fiber and with a low glycemic index, the pear is a powerful fruit. Versatile enough to eat fresh as is, hot or cold, savory or sweet.
Butternut Squash gives you all the healthy benefits of pumpkin, and it’s thick skin helps it last further into the winter for easy storage. This squash is full of disease fighting antioxidants and boosts the immune system. This winter wonder also helps support healthy digestion and circulation.
Beets are a great way to add depth of flavor with few calories. Another of the root veggie family, beets are rich in vitamins and minerals in high concentration. This superfood helps boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and fight free radicals like many foods on this list. Beets also can help improve athletic performance and brain function and prevent cancers.
Try These Recipes for your New Fall Favorites!
So now that you have a few other options for your Fall Flavors repertoire, here are a few great recipes I have tried and are even mini-chef approved! Since we are all pretty busy this time of year, these can be sides or main dishes and made ahead for easy left overs.
GINGER ROASTED BEETS, SWEET POTATOES AND PEARS
- 3 medium-large beets, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
- One sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 large sweet potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes (peel or keep skin on, either works)
- 2 green Anjou pears (ripe but still firm)
- 1-2 tsp fresh thyme
- Salt to taste
- 1-2 tbsp Avocado oil or olive oil
- 1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, combine beets, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and about 1 tbsp avocado oil. Toss so veggies are well coated in oil. Spread beet mixture evenly on baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.
- While beets are baking, combine sweet potatoes, pears, thyme, salt, and remaining oil in bowl.
- Add the sweet potatoes and pears to the baking sheet and mix to combine.
- Place mixture back into the oven and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes. Toss mixture halfway through baking.
- Add more salt to taste after cooking, and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy warm or cold – it tastes delicious either way!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH CARROT AND GINGER SOUP
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces (1 ¼ cups) onion – diced (about 1 large onion)
- 9 ounces (2 cups) carrots – peeled and diced (about 4 medium carrots)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger – minced
- 46 ounces (9 cups) butternut squash – peeled, seeded and diced (about 3 medium squash, 5 ½ pounds whole)
- 10 cups liquid vegetable broth
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- In a pot, sautée the onion in olive oil on low flame until clear.
- Toss in carrots and sautée 10 minutes.
- Add ginger and sautée two minutes.
- Add butternut squash and vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium low heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Puree with a blender until smooth and serve.
And for breakfast or dessert…
CHAI INFUSED PEAR SCONES WITH VANILLA DRIZZLE
From the Desertivore.com
For the Chai Infused Cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream (235 ml)
- 2 chai tea bags
For the Scones:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (310 g)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ginger or 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1/8 tsp finely ground black pepper
- 6 tbsp butter, cubed and very cold (85 g)
- 3/4 cup chai cream (180 ml)
- 1 large egg
- 1 medium pear, chopped into small pieces
Vanilla Bean Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar (200 g)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream (60-80ml)
Chai Infused Cream
In a 1 qt saucepan, add 1 cup of heavy cream. Snip open the 2 teabags and pour the contents into the cream. Bring to a simmer on low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, not allowing the cream to boil. Turn off the heat and allow the chai to steep and cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C) and cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Strain the chai cream into a liquid measuring cup, discarding the tea leaves and large bits of spice. You should have around 3/4 of a cup – if you have less, fill the cup to 3/4 with more heavy cream. Whisk the egg into the cream. Chop the pear and set it aside.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and black pepper to a large food processor. Mix on high until they are well combined. Then add the cubed butter and pulse until it becomes pea-sized, about 5-8 pulses. If you are not using a food processor, use a pastry blender to chop the butter into the flour.
- Move the flour and butter mixture to a large mixing bowl and shape a well in the center. Into this well, pour the cream and egg mixture and add the chopped pear. Stir these into the flour until it forms a large mass, being careful not to overwork.
- On a floured rolling surface, shape the dough into a flattened disc with an 8 inch (20.5 cm) diameter. Use a bench knife to make 4 cuts across the disc, forming 8 scones.
- Transfer the scones to the baking sheet and bake at 400° F (200° C) until the edges begin to brown, about 15-17 minutes. Allow them to cool for about 30 minutes before glazing.
Vanilla Bean Glaze
Whisk the scraped vanilla seeds into the cream. Sift the cup of powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the cream gradually to avoid lumps. Drizzle or spoon the glaze over the scones. You can store the scones for up to 3 days at room temperature, or up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.