If the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables this summer didn’t get you excited about cooking, autumn is a fabulous time to fall in love with plant-based eating all over again. Cooking now is much more comfortable than it was during the heat of summer, and nothing brightens up a gloomy day like freshly baked muffins or a bowl of hot, creamy soup.
With the approach of cold and flu season and the threat of COVID-19 still hanging over everyone’s head, now is a great time to stock up your pantry with all the ingredients for your favorite fall comfort foods. Here are some must-haves for every plant-based kitchen!
Almost nothing signals the arrival of autumn like freshly baked pumpkin desserts. But pumpkin is good for so much more than the pie on your Thanksgiving table, and it’s incredibly good for you too! Not only is pumpkin low in calories, but it’s also high in beta-carotene, vitamin K, and potassium. Give some popular pumpkin dishes a try next time you’re stuck inside on a cold day:
- Pumpkin pancakes
- Pumpkin parfait
- Creamy pumpkin soup
- Pumpkin pasta
- Pumpkin spice cake
Beans and Lentils
If beans aren’t already a staple in your diet, fall is a great time to add them in. Soups and chilis are the perfect comfort food on a cold day, and beans are a cheap and nutritious source of protein, fiber, and iron (as well as many other vitamins and minerals). You might not be able to attend a chili cookoff if you’re still observing social distancing, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a big pot of chili with homemade cornbread all to yourself. You might also try some of these bean-heavy dishes:
- Vegan cowboy caviar
- Chickpea noodle soup
- Lentil Spaghetti
- Vegan black bean brownies
Many fall recipes use fragrant spices like cinnamon, pumpkin spice, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg, just to name a few. Make sure your pantry is well supplied with all of your favorites. They don’t just add flavor, they’re good for you too! Cinnamon, for example, has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any spice in the grocery store. And ginger is often used to reduce inflammation and treat an upset stomach.
Cashews are a great way to get that creamy texture and rich taste that would normally come from cream or cheese. Cashews are also a good source of protein, vitamins, and heart-healthy fats. You can use cashews for:
- Spinach and artichoke dip
- Creamy soups
- Vegan ranch dressing
- Vegan parmesan “cheese”
You may not usually think of squash as a pantry item, but squash can last for weeks and sometimes months in your pantry. It may not last that long, though, once you’ve tried some delicious and hearty dishes that feature these fabulous vegetables. Consider trying:
- Stuffed acorn squash
- Creamy butternut pasta
- Buddha bowls with roasted squash
- Spaghetti squash with marinara sauce
Let’s face it, sometimes you just need something fast that requires minimal effort. While prepackaged mixes often aren’t quite as tasty or nutritious as the homemade version, they can save you lots of time as well as excess trips to the grocery store. Keep a few boxes of your favorite vegan breads, muffins, and cookies around to help you get through those days when you just don’t have time to cook.
Nothing cures a bad day quite like a warm and hearty meal that’s good for your body and the planet. We love to hear from you. What are your favorite fall comfort foods? Let us know in the comments!