While trying to stay cool amid lingering summer heat waves and humidity, we can’t help but look forward to fall. Brisk weather, holiday fun and crave-able seasonal treats are part of what make the season great. However, these comfort foods can often lean more toward heavy ingredients and heavy sugar rather than nutritional, whole foods. We chatted with Dr. Aimee Wrubel, natural medicine and holistic wellness expert at Vitamix, about some of her favourite seasonal classics that don’t sacrifice flavour or a healthy lifestyle. —Noa Nichol
Please tell us a bit about yourself to start!
My name is Dr. Aimee Wrubel. I am a physician and holistic wellness expert with degrees in both Naturopathic and Chiropractic Medicine. Additionally, I‘m a fifth-generation member of the Barnard family that founded Vitamix over 100 years ago and continues the brand’s legacy of promoting whole food nutrition. I also serve on the board of the Vitamix Foundation, our non-profit organization.
Today, we’re talking about “transitioning” back to fall comfort foods, which can often lean more toward heavy ingredients and heavy sugar rather than nutritional, whole foods. Can you think of some popular examples of such treats?
Fall is definitely a time when people start drifting back toward heavier meals—particularly those with additional fats and sugars. Even vegetable-based dishes that seem healthy—like mashed potatoes or pumpkin treats—can easily be loaded with additional ingredients and calories that weigh us down. Desserts and sweet drinks featuring autumn ingredients (pumpkin spice, anyone?) are always trending in the fall as well.
OK, now that we’ve identified some fall favourite foods, what are your top tips to enjoy these classics without sacrificing flavour or a healthy lifestyle? Top swaps? How can we use our Vitamix to satisfy our autumn cravings in a healthy way?
One of my biggest recommendations is to use herbs and spices to highlight your meals rather than adding extra fat and sugar. Try rosemary and sage for serious fall vibes, as well as homemade versions of pumpkin spice blends. The mix usually includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and clove. Store-bought blends exist too, just make sure they don’t have any added sugar or processed ingredients. Another tip is to make food fresh at home, where you can control what goes into it. Making homemade nut butters in the Vitamix is simple, and the powerful machine makes quick work of the tough nuts! This recipe highlights pecans as a flavour—perfect for dipping veggie sticks on a fall day. Apple picking is one of my favorite seasonal activities. But of course, what to do with so many apples once you get them home? I love to make applesauce in the Vitamix, because I can make it quickly from raw apples with the skin on. It also freezes easily so I can make big batches—which is especially useful as baby food! I personally don’t add any sweetener because the apples are sweet on their own. If you prefer a sweeter applesauce, just add a few dates while blending for some whole-food sweetness. Fall is the time for pumpkin—which goes great in both savory and sweet treats. Cinnamon highlights the natural sweetness in pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and autumn squashes. Try out some of my favorite fall recipes, below!
Do you have a favourite recipe you’ll be whipping up regularly once fall is in full swing?
Fall is the perfect time to snuggle up with something warm. I love cooking soup in my Vitamix as the weather gets cool. It’s a great time of year to load up on yummy vegetables. Sweet Potato Soup and Thyme for Tomato Soup are some personal favorites of mine, and the Vitamix cooks them up in just a few minutes. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our Pumpkin Pie Smoothie which is a fan favorite and a must-try healthy breakfast or even dessert this season. This delicious whole food drink tastes like autumn in a glass. If you’re looking for nutritious-yet-decadent dinner ideas, try the Mushroom Spring Onion and Sun Dried Tomato Galette or Harissa and Maple Glazed Carrots. Don’t forget the Pumpkin Brownies for dessert. These healthful versions of classic recipes will please your palate while still allowing you to stick to a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to get carried away with hearty dishes this time of year. By sticking to recipes that are made from whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your food, and have a healthy, happy autumn.