October: Gourd-geous & Fancy Free!
The tilt of the earth’s axis heralds in the harvest season. No matter where you live in the northern hemisphere, Autumn is in full motion. Perhaps you live in a place where the leaves are in their glory; country roads are full of leaf peepers. Maybe, like me, you live in the tropics and the Fall comes in a more subtle fashion: the hue of the sky, the drop in humidity, the car freighters bringing cars from the north. We belong to Green Cay Farms, a CSA (community supported agriculture cooperative) and after enduring a harsh summer, the inaugural boxes of fresh fall vegetables are bountiful.
Tubers and gourds are favorite Autumnal foods of mine. They are very versatile; they come in different sizes, colors, and textures. Carrots, radishes, parsnips, and the like can be eaten raw, steamed, or roasted. Gourds, with their myriad of unusual shapes can be showcased on stoops or window sills, but better yet, eaten; baked with olive oil and herbes d’ Provence, nutmeg and butter, coarse salt and pepper, they make delicious seasonal treats… you could say they are gourd-geous!
I recently purchased an immersion blender and really love using it for creating smooth concoctions that can be made into soups, dressings, or “sneaky” additions to baked goods or sauces. Pumpkins, gourds and carrots are especially pleasing accoutrements to waffle recipes, thickening up gingery salad dressings, or adding into your favorite cookie, cake, muffin, or quick bread.
Pumpkin seeds are fabulous snacks and are fun to make with a group. Make a Sunday morning or Friday night of seeding pumpkins together. After washing them, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Melt a few tablespoons of butter (or your chosen “fat”) and dip seeds into butter, drain (sieve or paper towel), and then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. From here, you decide how to prepare your pepitas, sweet or savory. Get as creative as you like. Sprinkle with cocoa, caraway seeds, or curry. Add salt. Place into the oven for 45 minutes and voila!
Best of all, almost every part of the country can harvest these gourd-geous gourds and tubers so you can support your local agriculture. Buying local agriculture has so many benefits, not to mention keeping agricultural gene strains healthy and strong. Look for gourds that are native to your region. The history that accompanies buying native or heirloom varieties is fascinating and can be made into a fun hobby, including finding species, collecting seeds, going to county fairs, and mingling with farmers and other locavores.
There is truly no better way of describing the fall than a cornucopia. Take advantage of your local gourd and tuber harvests! Get your friends and family involved! Go pumpkin-picking or to local green markets that are now brimming with bright and unusual vegetables. Explore the lay of the land by getting your hands on some fresh produce. While you do so, you will be strengthening your community, benefiting the environment, and creating outdoor memories of gathering, harvesting, preparing, and enjoying the fruits of Autumn.
What are your favorite fall dishes? Which recipes are you breaking out? Are there memories that you associate with these fall plates? Tell us about them at www.trampolineblogs.com, @FitTrampoline or Facebook www.facebook.com/FitnessTrampoline.
Looking forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, happy gourd hunting, pumpkin seed roasting and Jack-o-Lantern carving!
Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Professional Fitness Instructor, ACE, AFFA, TRX, Indo Board, PIA Pilates, GROOVE Method
Dance and Creative Movement Productions
Writer and Social Media Correspondent
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