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Fall foods to warm the soul

Afrofood Akara , Bean Fritters, Nigerian Bean Fritters, African Akara

Afrofood Akara , Bean Fritters, Nigerian Bean Fritters, African Akara

As cooler temperatures begin to settle in, appetites turn to heartier foods and dishes that will warm the soul. Fall fruits and vegetables are or will soon be at their peak, providing intense flavors and vibrant colors to deserving dinner plates. For those who had the foresight to plant fall gardens, we commend you. For the majority of us who didn’t, thank goodness for our abundance of farmers markets and produce stands that will be brimming with fall’s bounty.

This year’s bumper crop may consist of fall fruits such as grapes, pears and apples. While apples are a staple in supermarkets year round, they’re at their natural peak during the fall. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself near an apple orchard or roadside stand, pick up a bag. Apples are a delicious and nutritious on their own, in school lunch boxes or baked in a tart or pie. Bobbing for apples also makes for a fun fall activity.

Fall is one of the best seasons for fresh vegetables. Look for delicious favorites such as cauliflower, broccoli, celery, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, eggplant and kale just to name. In recent years, we’ve heard and read much about kale, the superfood that’s high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Kale is at its sweetest during the cooler months and can be prepared in a variety of ways – either raw in a salad, sautéed , roasted or steamed as a side dish or even blended into a smoothie.

Black-eyed peas are another hearty and healthy addition to any fall dinner plate. Thought to have originated in Northern Africa and brought to the New World by Spanish explorers or African slaves, these versatile peas are very popular in the southern United States. Home cooks can add an African twist to a fall meal by serving akara – a Nigerian dish made from peeled black-eyed peas, deep fried into a fritter and served with salsa for an extra kick. A popular accompaniment to akara is akamu, a Nigerian Pap. Made with fermented corn paste and served hot and garnished with a mint leaf and some fresh fruit, akamu is a sweet ending to a hearty fall meal.

There’s much to enjoy during the transition of summer to winter. Fall offers not only a bounty of delicious food options, it also welcomes much-anticipated cooler temperatures and colorful, picturesque scenery for all to enjoy.