September is the bridge between summer and autumn that marks the start of the harvest season offering large crops of fruit & vegetables. A great time to celebrate the best of nature’s bounty and as the kids go back to school, it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment with ingredients.
September is also Organic Month, a campaign founded by The Soil Association to raise awareness of the many benefits that organic products and agriculture have to offer you, your family, and the planet. Eating foods that are in season is a great way to reduce the overall environmental impact of what we eat. For recipe inspiration, visit a Farmers Market and support local producers.
Some seasonal autumn vegetables over the next few months include potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, swedes, celeriac, mushrooms, onions, beetroots, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, beans, courgettes, spinach, leeks, red cabbage, kale, aubergine, sweet corn. Seasonal fruits include apples, plums, pears, and berries. For a yearly calendar of seasonal foods click here.
Brilliant Baked Potato
As the temperature drops and the leaves start to turn, we can't help but want to curl up with a plate of warm goodness. If the cooling weather has you craving comfort foods, nothing hits the spot quite like a baked potato. Crisp and golden on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside, plus they’re the perfect vehicle for all sorts of tasty fillings. Potatoes are packed full of nutrients! According to the book 'Healing Foods' by DK Publishing, potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and B6, fibre, potassium, copper, tryptophan, and manganese. Here is a classic baked potato recipe that is easy to follow and great to get kids in the kitchen.
- Medium-sized baking potato (120 to 170g total)
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
- Wash the potato and dry with a clean tea towel to ensure it’ll be crispy when baked.
- Rub with olive oil and season with sea salt
- Use a fork to pierce it six times, all around the potato.
- Place on a baking tray and bake for 1 hour to 1¼ hours, until the potato is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Transfer to a board and cut open straight away – if you let the potato sit after baking, the interior will steam and the potato can become soggy and heavy.
- Top with your favourite filling. Similar to pizza toppings, there's a world of options out there for baked potatoes from turning them into a breakfast boat to stuffing them with vegetables, meat, or cheeses. Try a colourful mix of grated red cabbage, carrot, apple, red onion, and gherkins with a splash of extra virgin olive oil. For extra crunch try crumble over some feta cheese and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts.
Foraging Wild Foods
If you are a beginner, then the best place to start is with familiar fruits like berries. August, September and early October is the best time to pick blackberries from hedgerows. It is an activity everyone in the family can get behind so arm the kids with baskets and it won't be long until everyone's fingers and lips are dyed purple. These little berries are low in fat and sugar and are a good source of Vitamins C and E, fiber, and folic acid.
Golden rules to be followed when picking blackberries:
- Leave some for the animals
- Always only pick fully ripe fruits
- Never pick berries on private property unless you have permission
- Avoid picking from bushes near busy roads where car fumes can pollute the fruit
- Take care when picking. Wear long sleeves and protective gloves because wild blackberry bushes have tougher branches and thorns than cultivated bushes.
Once you get the blackberries home, place them in a large bowl and cover them with cold water. A gentle way to clean them is to add a teaspoon of salt and let them stand for a couple of hours. Then rinse them thoroughly under cold running water. Finally, pick over the berries to remove any stems and leaves. They are so brilliantly versatile, one can enjoy them in both sweet and savory dishes at any time of the day. Blackberry scones, warm right out of the oven make the perfect Sunday morning breakfast along with a hot cup of tea.
- 225g plain flour, sifted
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 75g salted butter
- 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 90ml whole milk or buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl- or divide the mixture into several bowls.
- Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture looks like flaky breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar.
- Add the blackberries.
- Bit by bit, stir in the egg, then buttermilk or milk until you have a firm dough. Don’t overwork it, just bring it together.
- Put the dough onto a floured work surface. Pat the dough into a circle about 2cm thick and give it one or two passes with a rolling pin but don’t press down too hard.
- Cut out scones using a 5-6cm cutter or a medium-sized upside-down teacup. Press straight downwards.
- Put onto a non-stick baking sheet and brush the tops with buttermilk or milk.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and cooked through.
To keep scones moist it is essential to use cold ingredients when baking so that the dough doesn’t spread in the oven, which results in drier scones. Try to keep a stick of butter in the freezer as refrigerated butter will melt as you mix the dough. Cutting the frozen butter into small pieces will mix more quickly into the dough. For light and fluffy scones, you don’t want to overwork the dough.
Make some extra scones for leftovers or lazy days and pop them in the freezer. Let them cool down then place in a re-sealable bag or airtight container to protect them from freezer burn. Add a sheet of waxed or parchment paper to keep them from sticking to one another. Use them within 3 months. For more tips on storing and preserving to stop food waste, visit the EPA website – Stop Food Waste.
Up your dose of Vitamin C
Autumn encourages us all to slow down a little and enjoy the harvest season. It’s about nurturing oneself and preparing for the colder months ahead. As the temperature falls, our immune system gets weaker, our mood drops, and our hair and skin become drier.
A good dose of vitamin C will help to boost your immune system as we head into autumn and also help to neutralise free radicals in the body. It can surprise some people to learn that Vitamin C doesn't prevent colds and flu, but it can reduce the length and severity of symptoms. The easiest way to incorporate it is by introducing vitamin C-rich foods into your diet. Stock up on fresh citrus fruits and berries for an added boost. Green vegetables and potatoes also contain high levels of this vitamin. We should be getting most of our nutrients from our diet, but sometimes that is not enough and this is when supplementing is needed.
Sea Ór seaweed supplements - Orplex™ Body is formulated using a proprietary blend of scientifically selected seaweeds, VOYA’s exclusive marine complex Orplex™, and specially selected vitamins and minerals. It is the perfect blend for boosting your Vitamin C, calcium ascorbate, intake with 140mg per day, which provides you with 175% of the advised Nutrient Reference Value (NRV). Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is usually safe to take even at high dosages as your body naturally takes what it needs and flushes out any toxins. However, Vitamin C supplements may interact with certain medications. This is especially true of medications for heart disease and cancer. It’s important to discuss your individual nutritional needs with your doctor.
If you are looking to protect your skin from the effects of cold weather, Vitamin C has incredible antioxidant properties. It helps your body repair damaged skin cells, aid healthy regeneration, and prevent premature aging. Furthermore, it improves the appearance of skin aged by the sun, reducing hyperpigmented spots. Sea Ór Seaweed Supplement Hair, Skin & Nails has a combination of ingredients that complete each other to ensure Vitamin C is absorbed by the body to help support normal collagen formation for normal healthy skin.
For more information on the ingredients, check out VOYA’s previous blog ‘DISCOVER SEA ÓR SUPPLEMENTS’.