Hi! I’m Janani, a law graduate by education and a kid's food blogger by passion. I started @everyday_eats_with_tara on Instagram as a hobby, which soon became my full-time work. My debut cookbook titled The Organic Baby Food Cookbook was released this July and I have been fortunate to get featured in Vogue India. There’s my daughter Tara, my husband Ram and myself in our little family.
We unanimously love this time of the year and all the cosiness it brings. Autumn is such a blissful season. The crisp leaves, chill breeze, joyous sight of kids giggling while putting up Halloween decorations, enjoying hot cocoa with toasted marshmallows in the evenings and the smell of fresh seasonal produce that fills the soul. The list goes on.
The best of seasonal vegetables
Autumnal harvest of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables is invigorating and something I look forward to! My almost five-year-old girl is a big foodie and loves to eat dishes which have a medley of vegetables that hero in the markets at this time of the year. Here are best of seasonal vegetables and fruits along with a few ideas to incorporate them in your diet to nourish the kids and adults in your family.
With vivid, purplish red skins, these contain more antioxidants than regular onions. My little girl enjoys onions in almost all dishes, particularly in pilau rice and curries. To get the most out of fresh red onions this season, thinly slice and caramelise them on a low heat with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a jam. It stays good for at least a month when refrigerated. Use it as a dip in your next autumn party platter or upgrade burgers and avocado and cheese toasties by slathering a teaspoon of this intensely flavoured sticky confiture.
Grate it and add to pasta. Roast it and coat with spices like paprika, dried oregano and garlic powder. Cut into boats, slather pasta sauce, cheese and bake. Pop it in curries, soups and stews. Courgette appeals to the whole family as it’s diet friendly for the adults and impressively absorbs flavours, thereby making it a green veggie that easily appeals to kids too.
Potatoes are one of the most consumed vegetables and are at the peak of their glory in autumn as they provide warmth and comfort, are packed with complex carbohydrates, and taste scrumptious, especially when used in spiced stews, roasts, gratins, fritters, mash etc. The options are endless. It’s important to boost immunity of children when the cold hits this season so pair potatoes with turmeric, a spice that not only boosts digestion and but also helps fight cold.
Pumpkin and squash
With its striking bright orange colour and a stringy and sticky interior, this is a superfood that boosts immunity. It pairs well with warm spices like ginger, cinnamon, chilli, and nutmeg. It can be used in sweet dishes like cakes, scones, breads etc, as well as savoury dishes like salads, pasta, curries, and rice. Several thousand tonnes of pumpkins are wasted every year, but these beauties can be saved by baking them in the oven and freezing the pulp for use in lattes and bakes. Did you know that adding a dash of pumpkin purée adds zing and salubriousness to ordinary mac and cheese?
Beets are rich in folate, which is essential for child’s development. It is a superfood and the rich red colour adds vibrance in hummus, salads, pasta, dips, tarts, fritters, soups etc. Beets may take a while to cook so an easy and quick way to sneak it in kids’ diet is to grate it before adding to the dish to keep the cooking time significantly shorter.
Also known as eggplant, this is technically a fruit but often used as a vegetable in almost all cuisines. It pairs wondrously well with spices like cumin, coriander, chilli etc. We love to include it in curries, dips, pies or simply pan fried with a splash of oil and brushed with spices like turmeric, sumac and paprika. My daughter has it with a side of yogurt to dip in. Remember to add fresh herbs like coriander, parsley, mint etc to elevate the flavours.
With ruffled texture, bright green layers and earthy flavours, this vegetable is a favourite in our family. My little girl loves cabbage sautéed in oil with peas, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, and ground coriander - aka cabbage sabzi (Indian version of dry curry).
Unquestionably healthy and versatile, this superfood is loved for many reasons: the creaminess that it adds to pasta sauces, how it’s a healthier alternative to rice and grains, the contentment it gives when baked with cheese and herbs. We love it in curries, flatbreads, and rice. When smeared with tahini, cumin, turmeric, paprika, just a splash of olive oil, and roasted in the oven until golden, it’s moreish and heart-warming.
The humble vegetable that I’ve been eating plenty of since I was a kid because it’s good for eyesight. How I thought if I eat a lot of carrots, my spectacles will magically disappear. Whether it’s in sweet treats like cakes and porridge, or in savoury dishes like pies, rice, dhal, khichdi (a one pot amalgamation of rice, lentils, spices, and vegetables), carrot is a vegetable that we consume every day. Did you know that the lush green carrot tops can be used to make pesto? Simply blend it with choice of nut or olive oil, Parmesan, and a clove of garlic and stir with freshly cooked pasta. Yum!
Packed with iron and great for eyesight, this is one of the vegetables that may be hard for kids to like. The key to getting kids eating beans is by adding plenty of flavour. Sauté with spices like turmeric and chilli and sprinkle freshly grated coconut for a delicious dry curry that’s famous in Sri Lanka and the south of India. Add it to pilau rice spiced with cardamom, clove, bay leaf, star anise, fennel seeds and plenty of autumnal veggies like onion, carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower. Sliced runners are great to sneak in curries and salads too.
Quintessential to this season are fruits like apples, pears, pomegranates, figs etc that are succulent and luscious at this time of the year. My grandma who was an ardent lover of fruits often told us that we should never miss the bounty of fruits that autumn brings, or there’s no meaning to life.
Figs are one of the most versatile fruits that go well in sweet and savoury dishes. Add it into pizzas and tarts along with goat's cheese or go team sweet with cakes, milkshakes, or simply roast figs with honey and pine nuts to savour the dense flavours. Not to forget the variety of health benefits that figs carry.
Slightly crisp and gloriously juicy, pears are a classic autumnal fruit. To get the most from pears this season, include them in sweet dishes like crumbles, cakes and puddings or savoury dishes like hearty salad and tarts. Grill or serve as is in kid’s snack box. Sometimes simple is the best and easiest way to eat them.
Although apples are available throughout the year, some of the best varieties of apples freshly picked this season are Jazz, Braeburn, Pink Lady and Gala. Spruce up apples by slicing them thinly and add a generous garnish of nut butter, desiccated coconut, or chocolate chips if you crave a cheeky treat and serve to kids as apple nachos. It's as easy as ABC and fun to eat. Sweet and crisp apples can be used to make applesauce, sweet or spiced with a dash of cinnamon and star anise. It’s an excellent egg replacer in bakes.
Rich in vitamin C, plums are a great snack for kids. Serving them with cheese keeps kids nourished and fuelled for longer. Plums can be included in crumbles, cakes, cupcakes, cobbler etc to please every member of the family. Plum chutney that is prepared by reducing fresh plums with cardamom, ginger and star anise makes an excellent side in family sharing platters of cheese, crusty bread, and other accompaniments.
Pomegranate is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. The easiest way to get maximum benefits from this fruit is by juicing the arils. Savoury dishes like salads, curries, and grilled veggies can be studded with these ruby red jewels for crunch, flavour and of course a tantalising effect.
Here’s a family favourite recipe to kick-start this cosy season with joie de vivre.
Seasonal veggie curry
A hearty curry to enjoy together with your family. It’s rich in taste and mildly spiced, so it's perfect for babies too.
Serves: 2 adults and 2 children
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Suggested sides: Rice, chapati/naan, quinoa, crusty bread
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds, optional
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 star anise
- A small piece of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cups of mixed autumn veggies (I used all the veggies listed above)
- 1/4 cup chopped cashews (skip in case of allergies). Substitute: mixed seeds like pumpkin and sunflower
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the whole spices, ginger, garlic, and onions until the onions are soft and translucent.
2. Add all the veggies and cashews along with 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook until soft. This takes about 12-15 minutes.
3. Add the spice powders and salt and mix well until thoroughly combined.
4. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.
Make the most of the season's offerings
This season, try to include as many seasonal veggies and fruits in your diet as possible. They are beneficial to our health as well as the environment, and, when possible, shop local.
Eat together and eat with gratitude.
All Images by @everyday_eats_with_tara
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