The fields and forests are abundant with these fascinating and enchanting delights - and now is the perfect time to go foraging! But BEWARE! You need an expert with you, because eating even one tiny toxic mushroom can kill you. This is literally deadly serious. Or you can take the safer route... if you are not interested in a mushroom hunt then pick (up) some mushrooms from your local organic food store.
And, at The Hopsack we are fanatical about them. Edible mushrooms a varied in their, tastes, textures and smells. If you are a mushroom fan, you will understand the absolute pleasure of a hot bowl of wild mushroom soup on a mild autumnal day, leaves falling the smells of nature all around...sorry… I’m already getting carried away and we haven’t even yet looked at the nutritional benefits.
They are not usually noted as high up there on the superfood list, but they are packed full of nutrients. They contain fibre, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, zinc and antioxidants (including selenium and glutathione) and the all-important beta-glucans for immune support. Some have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, others have psychoactive properties (not to be included in your soup!)
It is interesting to note that mushrooms pre-date all plants and animals on this planet.
Roast or stuffed, used in hummus, cake, tagine, soup, pesto, risotto… the list goes on!
This exceptional food hasn’t long been available on our doorstep - but oh how we have grown to love both it and its cousin - butternut squash.
Most households joining in the Halloween festivities will have a pumpkin in their home this month. While it is fun carving out your lantern, why throw away the flesh? It's World Food Day on 16th October, its theme is ‘zero food waste'!
Nutritional value - well, what doesn't it have? It is a source of fibre, beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese, thiamin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus!
Not to mention the seeds - tryptophan, zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper, protein, and many anti-oxidants.
Pumpkin will keep your immune system, skin, eyes, digestive system, bones and cardiovascular system in top shape - a shield on the inside, preparing you for the winter months ahead!
Before we were seduced by the fashionable and charming pumpkin, turnips were the original vegetable of choice, for our Halloween jack-o'-lanterns. They were not so pleasing to the eye or as cute as the American version, these devilish carvings were actually quite terrifying!
Turnips are perhaps not at the forefront of our minds when we imagine autumn and Halloween now. But, at this time of year, this seemingly humdrum vegetable is sweet and delicious. The perfect pie topping when mashed with butter and seasoned. It's so flavoursome, yet so underrated.
The leaves alone, which many discard, have a similar nutrient content to kale! Loaded with vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium. Turnip leaves (or greens) are also high in lutein which is good for our vision.
The actual turnip itself contains high levels of manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, as well as vitamins like vitamin C, E, K, and some B vitamins too!
Turnip gratin anyone?
This humble, everyday fruit (a member of the rose family!) is steeped in myth, legend and history. Thousands of years ago, our Brehon laws penalised the cutting down of an apple tree by taking six cows from the culprit; even removing a branch would result in a fine. In The Bible, of course, the apple played the lead role in mankind's expulsion from the Garden of Eden and Newton's discovery of the theory of gravity. A shiny gift from teacher's pet, a target for bowmen, rhyming slang for stairs...
...and there's some truth in the old doctor-dodging saying - because their nutrients include flavonol antioxidants, anthocyanins (if the apples are red) and several dozen more healthy phytochemical nutrients. They are a source of both fibre (including the soluble fibre pectin) and vitamin C. An apple's nutrients are particularly dense in its porous skin, so choosing organic is especially important if you want to get their full benefit.
So, if you are lucky enough to have an apple tree in the garden or an organic food store nearby, you can indulge in some apple marmalade, jam, curd, pie, sauce, or simply spread some peanut or almond butter on a slice of sweet apple goodness!
Mother nature, the colours, the smells, the setting sun and the abundant foods you deliver in autumn are the finale to a wonderful year of produce, and we give you a thunderous standing ovation!