At a time when most things in Charlotte are unpredictable due to COVID-19 and Phase 3 of North Carolina’s safer-at-home order, one aspect of life we can all find comfort in is food. It’s officially fall, which means it’s perfectly acceptable to get comfortable and cozy up next to healthy fall recipes that could contribute to your overall happiness and wellness.
The start of fall can kick off with these healthy fall dishes that are not only tasteful but will help support your immune system during the upcoming colder months. From curry sweet potato bisque to roasted vegetables and sausage medley and a homemade bone broth, Charlotte food and nutrition experts have you covered.
Personal chef Adjoa Courtney, also known as Chef Joya, looks forward to colder weather because she loves to prepare a variety of soups and stews. Her curry sweet potato bisque is a favorite recipe. It’s packed with immune supporting ingredients like sweet potato, ginger, garlic, turmeric and red bell pepper.
“Comfort food is always a great thing,” she said. “I cook from a place of comfort. I cook from a place of love. When you can cook and still have those flavors and it can still be super healthy and good for you, it’s very important.”
Many of Chef Joya’s plant-based recipes are inspired by family and her childhood.
If you’re in the mood for a healthy fall meal on-the-go, Matt Dengler, a registered and licensed dietitian, suggested adding pumpkin or sweet potato to shakes or smoothies. The orange color indicates beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps support the immune system.
“Adding canned pumpkin is a really great way to add fiber to a smoothie with vanilla protein powder, a banana and almond milk,” he said. “It would be a great fall dish that’s high in protein and fruits and veggies.”
Dengler, who owns RxRD Nutrition LLC, suggested pizza as a good way to sneak in healthy vegetables and proteins. He and his wife frequent Charlotte restaurants such as Farley’s for the garden pizza or Bisonte Pizza for the veggie lovers pizza. When they’re home, they create their own pies and load them with spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms and some protein on top.
“Life is way too short not to enjoy some fun foods,” he said. “If you’re going to do it yourself, you can make it a little bit more healthier than buying it from the store.”
Dylan Lowry, a registered and licensed dietitian with Nutrition Healthworks, said fall is the time to start incorporating in-season vegetables to help support the immune system. Eating about three cups of vegetables and two fruits a day should be the goal. During the colder months, he usually eats fruit with each meal.
“Variety is also a big factor,” Lowry said. “If you’re eating three bananas a day every day, that’s not going to give you a variety of nutrition, vitamins and minerals to help the immune system.”
Salads are a good way to get an immune boost and incorporate different fruits and vegetables. If you’re at home, you can add greens, strawberries for vitamin C, cheese for vitamin D and calcium, bell peppers and a lean protein. If you want to order in, try the harvest bowl from Chopt.
Samantha Eaton, a certified nutritional health coach and eating psychology coach, loves the “soup/stew Sunday” tradition that comes with this time of year. She and her husband look forward to cooking soup or stew on Sundays. One of her favorites is a roasted vegetables and sausage medley.
“It’s really easy to make,” she said. “It’s loaded with all of those traditional, delicious fall flavors that you think of when you think of fall.”
Eaton’s homemade bone broth is an added immune supporting bonus to any soup.
“I love making my own bone broth,” she said. “It’s super easy to do. It has all kinds of amazing health benefits in it. It has amino acids, and those help reduce inflammation, arthritis, joint pain and have natural collagen.”
Chef Michael Bowling likes variety in life and in the food he serves. Healthy eating is all about vegetables and having variety in what you eat to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it can get, said the owner of The Hot Box Next Level Kitchen.
The hot box grain bowl has gained popularity with its mix of healthy ingredients, like grains, cucumbers, tomatoes and mushrooms. During the colder months, Bowling incorporates more variety in recipes.
“We use a lot more broccoli and cauliflower as we get more into the fall,” he said. “We use a lot of red bell peppers, roasted and raw. Raw, red bell peppers have twice the amount of citrus as an orange. They also boost your metabolism when you eat them raw.”
Healthy fall recipes you can make at home from Charlotte-based publications and blogs
Where: Bucket List Tummy
What to make: Tropical Banana Chia Pudding
Benefits: Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 and copper, which work as an antioxidant. Chia seeds contain calcium.
Where: Peanut Blossom
What to make: Homemade Dried Apple Chips
Benefits: Cinnamon has antioxidants. Apples have fiber and vitamin C.
Where: Unpretentious Palate
What to make: Mushroom barley soup
Benefits: Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants. Barley is rich in calcium and iron.
Where: Shuangy’s Kitchen Sink
What to make: Thai Pumpkin Curry
Benefits: Pumpkin has vitamin C and is rich in fiber.
Healthy fall favorites you can order from Charlotte restaurants
Where: Birch Fine Tea
What to order: Apple Ginger Rooibos
Benefits: Ginger, a natural remedy, has healing qualities. Apple and rooibos offer anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
What to order: Faroe Island Atlantic Salmon
Benefits: Salmon is rich in Vitamin A.
Where: Leah and Louise
What to order: Mama Earth
Benefits: Tomatoes have Vitamin C. Okra is full of antioxidants.
Where: Nourish Vegan Meals
What to order: Cathy’s Thai Chili
Benefits: Black beans offer calcium, fiber and zinc. Sweet potatoes can help support your intake of vitamin A.
Where: Passage to India
What to order: Dal Fry
Benefits: Lentils have zinc, which can help heal wounds. Onions have Vitamin C.
Where: Pho @ Noda
What to order: F2 Gà Xào Xả Ớt
Benefits: Lemongrass promotes antiviral activity.