Fall is right around the corner – and with it comes everything pumpkin spice, tons of candy around Halloween, and extreme overeating on Thanksgiving. You don’t have to be part of America’s yearly tradition of eating way too much sugar in Autumn. In fact, this is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the naturally sweet and delicious bounty with which we are surrounded here in Portland.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, every season corresponds with a part of your body. For example, in autumn we focus on your lungs and large intestine. The lung is yin, and the large intestine is yang, together they create a yin-yang pair.
Your daily habits and your diet have a great influence on your organs and your overall health. That’s why we recommend eating seasonally as much as possible during these months. Many of the foods that are available and fresh are also excellent sources of nutritional support.
Naturally Sweetened – No Sugar Added
There are plenty of seasonal foods available in the fall which are naturally sweet. So, if you’re craving some something sweet, here are two delicious options for you to try!
Sweet Potato Pudding
There seem to be about a million and one recipes for these potatoes – though most seem to be a substitute for regular potatoes. With so many savory recipes out there, it’s always good to find a balance with sweet recipes, too.
One way to bring out the sweetness in a sweet potato is to bake it with the skin on. This is pretty simple. Here’s a quick and easy recipe:
Whole sweet potato, washed
Olive oil or other non-stick oil
Optional: Your favorite sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 325. Coat your baking sheet with the non-stick oil. Place the whole sweet potato on the sheet and put it in the oven. It’s going to need about an hour to bake (depending on its size). Turn the potato about halfway through the baking process.
You can tell when the sweet potato is done by pushing a fork through it. If the fork can easily move through the entire potato, it’s done.
Slice open the potato and scoop out the inside of the sweet potato. Be sure to scrape along the skin – you’ll find some lovely, caramelized sweet potato there. Put it all in a bowl and mix in about four dashes of cinnamon. Mix in a ¼ cup of coconut milk and, if you’re really craving sweetness, add a little of your favorite sweetener into the mix.
You now have mashed sweet potatoes that are actually sweet! You can either eat it straight out of the bowl (there’s no shame in that!) or put it in smaller serving cups and serve it as a pudding.
Apple or Pear Crumble
The traditional crumble has a ton of sugar in it. However, with naturally sweet apples and/or pears, you don’t need to include cups and cups of sugar. Here is a simple recipe you can use to enjoy your favorite fruit in a crumble:
Six baking apples or pears, peeled, cored, and cubed*
6 dates or ¼ cup raisins
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp water
1 cup old-fashioned oats
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
4 tbsp chilled, unsalted butter or coconut oil
*Note: I’ve found Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Golden Delicious apples to be the best for baking – if you’d like to avoid the tartness of a Granny Smith. Anjou or Bartletts are great baking pears.
Mix the oats, flour, honey, and butter in a bowl until the topping comes together in clumps. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375. While oven is preheating, mix apples/pears, dates/raisins, cinnamon, vanilla, and water and place in a saucepan. Heat on stovetop over medium heat until the fruit has softened and begins to break apart if you prod it with a spoon. You may need to add a little more water during the process. If so, just add it a tablespoon at a time.
Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized oven-proof baking dish and sprinkle topping over it.
Bake everything until topping is brown and crisp. This should take about 30 mins, depending on your baking dish. Be sure to check it at about 20 minutes.
Once the top is crisp, your crumble is ready to serve!
While I’m not going to provide recipes to substitute every dessert or sugary treat out there, consider using these other seasonal foods to sweeten up your table: corn, carrots, persimmons, berries that are still in season, melons, squash, zucchini/zucchini blossoms, quinces, dates, and oranges.