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Great Seasonal Food For September
Seasonal food and meals for September

If you want recipe ideas for some great seasonal food in September, our Food Information Executive, Laurence Beeken takes a look at what fresh local food is in season now and gives you some low calorie autumn meal options…

Great Seasonal Food For September

By WLR's Food Information Executive, Laurence Beeken

September heralds the end of the summer and start of the autumn, but do the seasonal food dishes and meals really have to be a case of soups, stews and pies? 

Certainly there are still a lot of berries and other fruits of the earlier season around, and apples and pears are putting in an appearance, which should make your fruit basket cheaper, especially if purchased locally.

Tender vegetables such as courgettes, beans and tomatoes are still available for your seasonal meals, but are less reliable if an early frost threatens, so if you have access to these then get them frozen or preserved for future recipes.

Blackberries

The fruit of the bramble, blackberries (which comprise of a number of fruits clustered around a central core) are familiar to us from childhood. Who hasn’t enjoyed blackberry picking at some point and popping that just plucked fruit into your mouth? 

Naturally low in calories, blackberries are a rich source of antioxidants and Vitamin C, which helps to boost the immune system and may fight off the onset of seasonal infections and colds.

Salicylates, a group of pain killers that include the active substance in aspirin, are also present which may explain their use in many complimentary medicines.

The seeds are a useful source of dietary fibre, and blackberries can help to lower cholesterol, plus are a great way to eat a rainbow!

Use blackberries in pies, crumbles and puddings or sit with a bowl in the evenings for a great low fat dessert. 

Blackberries can be preserved into jelly or jam for eating through the coming weeks, or why not try a spot of wine making where you can control the amount of sugar and therefore calories in the end result!  Vanilla Ice Cream makes the perfect serving companion.

Preparation

Blackberries are ready to eat when they become dark and plump.  Avoid those which are mouldy or shrivelled, and use them as quickly as possible as they only keep for a short time. Try not to wash them as this tends to spoil both texture and flavour, although if you must, do it just before using and drain them well.

Storage

Arrange clean berries in a single layer on a plate lined with kitchen towel (to prevent crushing), and store them in the fridge.  About an hour before eating, remove them from the fridge to come back up to room temperature. Eat within a couple of days of buying or picking.

Blackberries freeze well so it's a great idea to get a couple of bags in the freezer to use through the winter. Simply spread unwashed berries in a single layer on a tray and freeze until solid before transferring to air-tight bags or containers.

Nutrition Information (Blackberries, Fresh, Raw, Average, per 100g).
Calories (kcal) 29.5
Protein (g) 0.8
Carbohydrate (g) 6.0
Sugars (g) 6.0
Fat (g) 0.3
Saturates (g) 0.0
Sodium (g) 0.002
Fibre (g) 1.55
Fruit and Veg (servings) 1.3
Blackberry Recipes:

Sweetcorn

The late summer and early autumn season sees tender sweetcorn arrive in the shops (of the homegrown variety, not the tasteless imported or glass forced cobs). 

Sweet and crunchy, sweetcorn has a lot to offer health-wise and can be great fun to eat, especially for the kids.   

While frozen and tinned options are still tasteful, and extend the season to include the rest of the year, you have to have freshly picked cobs to have the true taste experience as increasing time from picking turns the sugars to tasteless starch.

Sweetcorn provides useful amounts of antioxidants which can help to reduce the onset of heart disease and cancer, as well as vitamins A, B3 (supports metabolism, the nervous and digestive systems) and C. It also contains folic acid and fibre.

When buying, look for cobs with a snug fitting, fresh green husk, and fine, silky threads (which are usually shriveled on the top). If buying from a market, try to shop earlier in the day and avoid buying sweetcorn that has been sitting in warm sun as the rate at which the sugars are turned to starch increases with temperature.

You can also buy baby sweetcorn, picked before it's fully grown. It is quite bland however, and used mainly for its crisp texture in stir frys and other vegetable dishes.

Storage

Keep sweetcorn cool and eat as soon as possible after picking - on the same day as purchase where possible. If keeping for more than a day, parboil the corn for a minute in boiling water (this will help slow down the conversion of sugars) before refrigerating or freezing.

Preparation

To boil, strip the husk and silk and trim the stems.  Strip off any of the silky threads still clinging to the cob. Cut off the ends of the cob, then wash.

Cook in unsalted boiling water (salt will toughen the kernels) until the sweetcorn pierces with a fork tip (anything from 3 to 10 minutes or more, depending on the condition of the corn). Serve the cob whole, or in chunks, but if you're doing the latter, it's best to slice them up after they're cooked, as the central core will be easier to cut.

To barbecue, soak the whole corn, with husks, in water for 10 minutes before cooking in the embers or over a moderate heat for 15 minutes or more, until toasted. Alternatively, soak the corn and remove the husk before brushing with a little oil and grilling.

To remove kernels from a corn cob, trim one end to produce a flat surface, stand the corn vertically on the flat end and cut down the length of the cob at the base of the kernels. Turn the cob and repeat until all kernels have been stripped. This is much easier to do after cooking and try to keep the blade as close to the core as you can, so that the kernels stay whole.

Nutrition Information (Corn, Cobs, Boiled, Weighed with Cob, Average, per 100g).
Calories (kcal) 38.9
Protein (g) 1.5
Carbohydrate (g) 6.8
Sugars (g) 0.8
Fat (g) 0.8
Saturates (g) 0.1
Sodium (g) 0.006
Fibre (g) 0.8
Fruit and Veg (servings) 0.79
Sweetcorn Recipes:

Beetroot

Beetroot is in season from around May to October in the UK, and many gardeners regard it as a winter vegetable as it's a root crop. However, it tends to be at its seasonal best in September.

Both the root and the leaves can be eaten, and many of the prepacked salads available from the supermarket now include baby beet leaves.

Nutritionally, raw beetroot is a great source of vitamin C, as well as iron and is currently considered to be one of the super foods that we should be eating more of. Recent research has linked beetroot juice to a reduction in the risk of heart disease plus it can help with exercise endurance.

Beetroot is a great source of folate along with potassium, manganese and fibre. Red varieties are also rich in anthocyanins, which may reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. The leaves contain beta-carotene, calcium and iron.
As well as being credited as a laxative and fever cure, other health claims include:

  • An aphrodisiac
  • A mood enhancer
  • A wound healer
  • A source of slow release energy
Storage

Remove greens from beetroot and store in plastic bags in the fridge for up to a week.

Preparation

When selecting beetroot, go for the smaller ones, as larger beets may be woody and lack sweetness.  Look for beetroot with smooth, unwrinkled skin and a firm, hard feel.  Buy beetroot bunches with the green tops still attached.

Always twist off the leaves, leaving a little of the stalks on the root as otherwise the root will ‘bleed’.  Remove the narrow root from the bottom of the beet to about 1cm from the base.
When cooking, you can:

  • Wrap in foil and bake at Gas Mark 4/180°C/350°F, for 45 to 90 minutes, depending on size. When they're easily pierced with a knife, they're done.
  • Shred the leaves into a salad or cook as spinach
  • Grated baby beets raw, into salads
  • Boil or steam with the skin on (to maximise nutrition, flavour and colour).  Wash thoroughly then boil or steam them for 15-20 minutes (cut in half if they’re larger than a golf-ball size). Let them cool, then slide the skins off.
Nutrition Information (Beetroot, Raw, Average, per 100g).
Calories (kcal) 32.0
Protein (g) 1.55
Carbohydrate (g) 6.0
Sugars (g) 5.52
Fat (g) 0.1
Saturates (g) 0.0
Sodium (g) 0.066
Fibre (g) 1.85
Fruit and Veg (servings) 1.3
Beetroot Recipes:

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