It definitely feels like the seasons have changed here, in the blink of an eye it seems that summer has switched to autumn. Although I remain hopeful we’ll be blessed with a surge of sunshine, a late September Indian summer, I am making the most of the autumnal evenings now, in the kitchen, with some more comforting dinners. Move over salads and sunshine food, something a bit more substantial is called for now, if anything just to stop me turning the heating on!
If you find the changes in the season can lead to changes in your mood and mental wellbeing then you’re definitely not alone. It’s no wonder that it has such a profound change on our mood when really our lifestyle is changing dramatically too. Less hours of daylight and spending less time outside mean less absorption of vitamins. Our routines have to make a shift too and the colder weather can leave us feeling unmotivated and unwilling to commit to as many social activities. Not only this our diet changes as we start to crave stodgier foods.
It’s really common to feel some symptoms of depression at this time, theres even a specific disorder, SAD , which you may be suffering from. If so it’s best to seek professional help however for the majority of us who just tend to feel a little blue or unsettled during this period there are some things you can do to help boost your mood and make the transition easier to cope with.
- Embrace the change in temperature and treat yourself to a new jumper, cardigan or coat. You don’t need to break the bank Primark is great for warm weather clothing without the hefty price tag or you could even upcycle last years coat by pinning on a fluffy collar or adding some customisation.
- Create a new routine that you enjoy, take a long bath after work or suggest a board game or hand of cards after dinner. Getting cosy can be just as fun as soaking up the sun.
- If you’re someone who really likes having that sun kissed look (like myself) then invest in a good fake tan, pamper yourself once a week and you’ll feel better for it.
- When the evenings really draw in light a fire and some candles, creating an intimate atmosphere can really help to boost your mood.
- Make a list of all the things you’re looking forward to, it might be Haloween, Bonfire night and Christmas shopping or perhaps you’ve got a holiday or trip coming up. If your budget allows plan a night away, perhaps visit a friend in another town or arrange some friends to visit you.
- Remember that summer will be back again next year, the cold weather wont last forever so embrace it when you can.
- Get in the kitchen, colder weather is perfect for baking and it’s a really good way to practice some mindfulness too. Theres loads of great baking recipes to try on the blog.
- Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy, batch cook some soups and stews to keep your freezer stocked. Invest in a thermos flask and you can take healthy lunches to work as well.
This recipe is a great example of the above, it’s a mash up between two of my favourite autumn dishes; sausages, roasted veg and onion gravy and French onion soup, and why not eh? The two dishes seem to marry very well. I always keep a bag or two of these chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables in the freezer, they are so versatile and really save me when I’ve had a busy day and I don’t want to spend ages standing and chopping veg for dinner.
It’s packed full of a rainbow of veg so definitely good mood food and it’s really tasty too. The cheesy garlic croutons are a great way to use up stale bread! You could serve with mash if you like more carbs with your meals, it would soak up all that lovely caramelised onion gravy or try extra greens like sautéed kale or runner beans, they would work really well too.
Sticky Sausage & Veg Traybake with Caramelised Onion Gravy & Cheesy Croutons.
Ready in an hour and 15 mins
750g bag frozen chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables (I use Tesco)
few sprigs fresh rosemary and thyme, leaves pulled off the woody stalks and finely chopped
1 tbsp garlic puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, very thinly sliced, I used a Mandolin
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp branston pickle
1 rich beef stock pot, made up to 700ml with boiling water
30g bisto or beef gravy granules
8 good quality lean pork sausages (I use Porky lights or M&S Skinny sausages)
8 thin slices stale baguette (or buy a small roll and slice this, about 60g in total)
75g mozzarella, grated or diced
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8. Tip the veg into a large roasting tray or ovenproof serving dish. Season with salt and pepper and half the rosemary and thyme. Drizzle on the Worcestershire sauce, half the garlic and stir and then cook for 40 mins, stirring half way. Brush the baguette slices with a little of the remaining garlic and set aside.
Meanwhile put the onions, most of the rest of the herbs (just reserve a few for the top) and some black pepper in a heavy bottomed pan and add a splash or water or vegetable stock. Sweat gently and slowly on a low heat until really soft, this will take about 20 mins. Stir often and keep adding more veg stock or water to stop them sticking. Once soft add the sugar, pickle and remaining garlic and increase the heat then cook until golden and caramelised. Add the stock and bisto and bring up to the boil, simmer until thickened – about 5 mins, stirring often, you can bubble for longer if you like your gravy really thick. Set aside.
When the veg have roasted remove and tip in the onion gravy, stirring to coat evenly, then nestle in the sausages. Roast for 25 mins more. Remove and add the bread slices then top them with the two cheeses and the reserved thyme and rosemary plus some black pepper. Roast for 15 mins more until the cheese has melted and everything is bubbling. Allow to stand for 10 mins then serve. Great as it is or try with mash, sweet potato mash, or greens on the side.