Feeling Depressed? Enjoy Autumn Without Bingeing

Autumn is such a lovely time of year filled with changing weather, changing colours, and this week—Halloween—which of course involves loads of candy and sweet treats.

I write in my book, You Can Be Thin, about the problem of associating unhealthy foods with celebratory or positive times of year like holidays, as it makes us feel like not having those foods is a negative thing. Thus, when we try to give up sweets or pastries or cakes, we can start feeling depressed and like we can’t celebrate anything. Food companies help this trend, by naming foods with these positive associations in mind—think “Celebrations” sweets, “Sunny Delight” drinks, and “Dairy Milk Bliss Chocolate.”

However, just because much of this season’s foods, most notably Halloween candy, are sugar and nothing else, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the flavours of Autumn. There are so many real, nutritious ingredients that come into season this time of year that are delicious and can be prepared in a healthy and nutritious way without gluten, dairy, added sugar or refined starches. Pumpkin is one of my favourites, and you can use either fresh pumpkin or canned puree for the same effect. If you use a fresh pumpkin, save the seeds for the second recipe! No need to be feeling depressed with these recipes to brighten up the season.

Dairy free pumpkin soup:
(adapted from BBC Food)

Ingredients:

1 x 4kg/8lb 13oz pumpkin
125g/4oz butter
2 medium onions, peeled, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.7 litres/3 pints chicken stock (vegetarians may substitute vegetable stock)

1. Cut the top off the pumpkin and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and fibres from the middle and discard.
2. Using a sharp knife and a spoon, carefully hollow out the pumpkin, removing the flesh and setting aside. (Don’t cut right up to the inside of the skin or pierce it, as you can use this to serve it. Leave 2cm/1in of flesh all around the inside.)
3. Roughly chop the scooped-out pumpkin flesh.
4. Pour olive oil in a large pan with a lid over a low heat and add the onions. Cook the onions gently for 10-15 minutes, until they are softened and golden-brown.
5. Add the pumpkin flesh, the cinnamon and nutmeg, and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Increase the heat to medium and cover with the lid. Cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the base from burning, until the pumpkin is cooked through.
6. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the soup to a food processor in batches and blend until smooth.
7. Return the soup to the pan and bring to a low simmer and cook for a further half an hour.
8. Forty-five minutes before eating, preheat the oven to 170C/335F/Gas 3.
9. Pour the soup into the hollow pumpkin shell, add any seasoning if necessary.
10. Place the reserved pumpkin ‘lid’ onto the pumpkin and place onto a large baking tray. Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, to bring the soup up to temperature.
11. To serve, carefully remove from the oven and serve the soup in the pumpkin at the table. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Warm Roasted Pumpkin seeds
Ingredients
2-3 cups pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

Instructions
1. Mix all dry ingredients
2. Add in olive oil and pumpkin seeds and mix well
3. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 250 degrees F oven for 75 minutes, turning once.

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