Healthy Ways to Embrace Seasonal Change
Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
Gallery: Healthy Ways to Embrace Seasonal Change [2 Images] Click any image to expand.
Danielle is the owner of FilledPlate.com, an online platform geared towards busy professionals to help them achieve success by filling their plates with nutrient-dense meals and consistent activity. Coming from the corporate world, she understands the role of nutrition in fueling everyday life and is a true believer in the power of whole foods to treat and prevent disease. She is a certified personal trainer and studying to be a Nutritional Therapy Consultant.
By Danielle TysonMore so than other seasons, fall brings us a renewed sense of change and reminds us that transition is a necessary and valuable part of the circle of life. For some, however, this change can be abrupt and unwelcome. Colder nights and mornings are a precursor to the long winter ahead, and the shortened hours of daylight can take a toll on our overall mood. Luckily, there are some healthy, natural ways to prepare our bodies for this transformative season!Load up on Vitamin D. When it’s dark in the morning and evening as we are commuting to and from work, we often spend the brighter times of the day inside. Our bodies start to miss out on the benefits of Vitamin D that we soaked up all summer long. Vitamin D has been proven to be essential for bone health, our immune system (fighting against those nasty colds), and depression. It is recommended to get your Vitamin D intake from natural sources via the sun (in small doses) and fatty fishes, for example. If you choose to supplement, be sure to get a Vitamin D3 (not D2) supplement. Whole Foods Market in Wexford carries many high-quality D3 varieties.
Stay active. Between swimming, biking, hiking and chasing after kids in the yard, our activity levels may tend to be more elevated in the summer. Though the seasons may be changing, our bodies still require us to be active. Increased activity can help combat sickness, increase good moods and keeps us energized when the skies become gray. Fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the crisp air and beautiful scenery.
Being active does not have to mean lifting 100 pounds at the gym or joining a cross-fit studio, though those are also great! It can be as easy as taking daily walks or hikes, raking the leaves, picking your own pumpkins off the vine instead of buying them at the store, or preparing your garden for winter. Pittsburgh is home to some great parks (North Park being one of them) which offer a free and family-friendly environment where you can be active. Want a little more intensity? Why not register the family for a 5K like the North Pittsburgh race in Zelienople benefitting THON On October 15? More information can be found on their Facebook page.
Eat locally and seasonally. It’s time to say goodbye to the ripe melons, fresh berries and endless amounts of summer squashes and welcome the rich colors and flavors of fall. Eating locally grown and in-season fruits and vegetables is not only good for your body (as you will be eating foods at their most nutrient-dense times), but it also benefits the environment and those around you who depend on your business to keep their farms going. For fall, think deep greens, bright oranges and yellows and vibrant reds. Butternut, acorn and spaghetti squashes are wonderfully healthy substitutes for traditional grains or starches in your favorite dishes. Apples are literally falling from the trees, so grab a few and try them sliced in salads, peeled in the slow cooker with cinnamon for homemade applesauce, or sautéed alongside roasted chicken for dinner. Get inspired by visiting Brenckle’s Organic Farm & Greenhouse in Zelienople or any local farm markets!
Below is an easy fall recipe to make ahead and pack in lunches for the week, or take it to your next Halloween party or Steelers’ tailgate.
Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed and seeded (tip: Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell them pre-peeled, seeded and cubed).
- 1 can of chick peas
- ½ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 2 TBSP Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1-2 TBSP sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh black ground pepper
- 1 TBSP raw honey
- 1 ½ TBSP of Tahini (Sesame paste) optional
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Spread butternut squash cubes and garlic on a cookie sheet and coat with ¼ cup of EVOO and sprinkle with ½ of the salt and pumpkin pie spice. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Once cooled, add butternut squash and garlic to a food processor with chick peas, tahini, remaining olive oil, pumpkin pie spice, honey and salt and pepper.
- Mix on low until smooth. You may need to add more EVOO to get to the consistency that you want.
- Serve with apples, carrots, plantain chips or your favorite crackers or pita bread and enjoy!