Pumpkins, butternut squash, gingerbread – sounds like autumn to me!
Since I published my first weekly food diary, you guys haven’t stopped requesting another one. So, here it is!
I’ve taken a slightly different approach and focused on just one day, with each meal broken down into recipes. Of course I had to add an autumnal twist – it is my favourite season, after all!
If you’re craving nourishing, delicious recipes that are perfect for chilly weather, look no further. I’ve veganized some of my favourite comfort foods (hello, spaghetti bolognese?!) and included tons of seasonal produce to create meals that taste best when eaten in front of a crackling fire – or a heater, if you’re me.
Got your cosy sweater on? Let’s go!
Breakfast: Pumpkin Spiced Overnight Oats
The colder months bring dark, chilly mornings, and I’m often guilty of skipping breakfast prep in favour of snuggling under the duvet for just five more minutes. However, my rumbling stomach isn’t quite so pleased with that idea once 9am rolls around!
I’ve recently gotten into the habit of preparing my breakfast the night before – it’s so convenient to grab a cute mason jar from the fridge before I leave for work. This time, I decided to give my usual overnight oats a little autumnal spin with some pumpkin puree and seasonal spices. The result? A creamy, sweet pudding that will totally get you in the mood for falling leaves and cosy sweaters. Plus, it’s insanely good for you!
- One cup of oats
- Two heaped tablespoons of pumpkin puree
- One teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
- One tablespoon of maple syrup
- Two cups of vegan milk
- Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake to mix well.
- Refrigerate overnight and give it another stir before topping with anything you like (banana, maple syrup and walnuts are my favourite!)
Mmm, pumpkin. Is it still Halloween?
Lunch: Spicy Butternut Squash Soup
There’s nothing better than a huge bowl of warming, nourishing soup on a chilly day. And when you add a little spice in there? Heaven.
I love making soup for lunch, as you can cook up a huge batch and eat your way through it all week. In the spirit of autumn, I decided on butternut squash with a dash of red curry paste to give it a little unexpected flavour. I have to say, it was a fantastic decision.
- One butternut squash, cut into small chunks
- One can of coconut milk
- Two tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
- Two cups of vegetable stock
- One handful of coriander, loosely chopped
- Two cloves of garlic, diced
- A pinch of grated fresh ginger
- Juice of half a lime
- One small white onion, diced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Dash of coconut cream
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and onion. Cook for a couple of minutes on low heat, stirring often, and then stir in the ginger and curry paste. Cook for another few minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock and butternut squash, stirring to combine everything together. Leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Once everything has completely cooled, transfer into a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and warm through on medium heat. Mix in the coconut milk along with the lime juice, salt and pepper.
- Remove the soup from heat and pour into a bowl. Swirl a little coconut cream through and garnish with a generous serving of coriander.
Don’t be put off by the slightly lengthy time it takes to make this – simply cook up a batch on a Sunday night and decant into Tupperware containers, ready to grab and go. Less time in the kitchen means more time for woodland walks and conker collecting!
Snack: Trail Mix
For the longest time, I thought trail mix was strictly limited to nuts and raisins. I couldn’t imagine a more boring snack! Eventually I branched out and discovered how varied and delicious it can be, and I’m so glad I kept an open mind.
The best trail mix usually includes an item from each of the following six groups: nuts, seeds, fruit, savoury, treats and spices. This gives you a good mix of nutrients and flavours, and will keep you full until your next meal. I recommend portioning it out into small cups or containers, as it’s so easy to just keep munching away until it’s all gone!
The best part? You can switch up the ingredients on a whim and create any theme you like. Can you guess what I was going for?
- Pumpkin seeds
- Apple chips
- Spiced chickpeas
- Granola (maple syrup-flavoured works best!)
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Simply pop everything into a large mason jar and give it a good shake to combine.
This tastes best with a warm mug of herbal tea (I’m loving Taylors of Harrogate’s Rose Lemonade!) a cosy blanket, and a good book. Happy snacking!
Dinner: Lentil Bolognese
Somehow, pasta has developed a bad reputation – I’ve heard people say that it makes you gain weight, that it’s unhealthy, that it’s ‘empty carbs’. Well sure, maybe it’s not that great for you if you drown it in cheese sauce! But seriously, pasta contains a great amount of selenium and manganese, and if you opt for whole-wheat then you’re also packing in a good chunk of fibre! Plus it provides a perfect base for nutritious toppings such as this warm, flavourful lentil bolognese.
It’s time to fall in love with pasta all over again!
- Two 380g boxes of pre-cooked lentils, rinsed (I use Sainsbury’s SO Organic)
- Three large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
- One stick of celery, chopped
- One medium-sized white onion, diced
- Three garlic cloves, finely minced
- Two 400g cans of tinned tomatoes
- 200g of tomato puree
- ½ a teaspoon of baking soda
- Two large tablespoons of dried mixed herbs
- One cup of frozen peas
- 250g of dried tagliatelle (half a packet)
- Drizzle a little olive oil into a large saucepan with deep sides and add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook for ten minutes on a low-medium heat, stirring often.
- Add the tomato paste and tomato sauce and leave to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
- Throw in the lentils, tinned tomatoes, mixed herbs, frozen peas and baking soda, along with a little water. Mix well and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. I recommend keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t dry out, and adding more water if needed (mine usually needs it!)
- Once the bolognese is gently boiling away, it’s time to cook the tagliatelle. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and pop in the pasta. Cook according to the package instructions – I find 11-12 minutes to be perfect.
- Strain the pasta and divide into two bowls, scooping a generous amount of lentil bolognese on top.
I have three requirements for my meals during autumn – they need to be warm, nourishing and comforting. This lentil bolognese ticks all the boxes!
Dessert: Warm Gingerbread Smoothie
Doesn’t that name just sound amazing? If you’ve never tried a warm smoothie, your mind is about to be blown. This dessert combines all the flavours of autumn into one delicious package – and it tastes so decadent and indulgent, you won’t believe how healthy it is!
This recipe is by the wonderful Amanda from Running With Spoons, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been craving it since April. I know a smoothie for dessert sounds kinda lame, but this is so much more than just a drink. I used soy milk as I find it to be the creamiest, but feel free to use your favourite plant-based milk instead.
Now, get blending!
- One cup of soy milk
- One tablespoon of peanut butter
- Two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses
- 1/3 of a cup of oats
- ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ a teaspoon of ground ginger
- ½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- Add all ingredients to a blender and combine until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and simmer for a few minutes until warmed through. Stir frequently to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Pour into a mug or heat-safe glass and top with a little extra molasses and cinnamon (or anything you like!)
So good, right? It’s like a warm hug from the inside – the perfect end to a windy, wonderful autumn day!
I hope I’ve proved that you don’t have to miss out on your favourite meals when you switch to a vegan diet – you can still enjoy the same comfort foods and seasonal dishes, just without the animal products! And honestly? These actually taste better than their meaty counterparts.
Enjoy this beautiful season – remember to jump in huge piles of leaves, bundle up in oversized scarves and eat ALL the pumpkins. Happy November, and happy cooking!