October means football, festivals, and fall-like weather are finally in full swing in Mississippi! The leaves and our wardrobes aren’t the only thing changing with the season. Transitioning to shorter (but still busy) fall days can be challenging. Less daylight often moves people indoors more, making spreading cold and flu viruses easier. Use these simple tips to keep your mental and physical health in check.
Prioritze personal time. Getting swept away in tailgates, festivals, trunk or treats, and pumpkin patches is easy—all good things, but it can wear on you mentally and physically. Find time to read a book in a hammock, take a bubble bath, leave work early, walk in the park, play golf, or fish alone. Find an hour a week to be (without the noise).
Protect your immune system. Everyone should want to take precautions within their control to keep a robust and responsive immune system. But beware, no magic pill, powder, or potion will ensure an everlasting healthy defense. Like all barriers, it will weaken over time (as you age) and with low maintenance, and even the best defensives can have weak spots and down days. Your immune system is no different.
But, regardless of your age or health status, there are simple, everyday things you can do to give your immune system a fighting chance. Drinking plenty of water, washing your hands often, eating nutritious foods, getting adequate rest, and getting a flu shot can reduce your risk of illness.
Be intentional with Vitamin D. Most of our Vitamin D comes from the sun, so our intake decreases during the fall/winter. Adequate Vitamin D is essential for a good mood, immune system, and bone health. Before it gets too cold, eat lunch or snacks outdoors, take breaks from work, and walk outside. Be intentional with eating foods high in vitamin D, like fish or fortified milk, cereals, or orange juice. Ask your healthcare provider about checking your vitamin D levels and recommendations for a vitamin D3 supplement or cod liver oil.
Buy in-season food. Fall is the perfect time to rotate out summer fruits and vegetables and fall/winter ones in. Produce purchased in season is more likely to be fresher, consumed closer to harvesting, and higher in nutritional value. Some antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, folate, and carotenes, will rapidly decline when stored. Add beets, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kale, pumpkin, broths, roasted squash, roots, and sautéed dark leafy greens to your grocery list.
Move More. Mississippi finally gets a break from the abusive heat in October, making it the perfect time to get back moving. Just 30 minutes of walking can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. You don’t need fancy equipment or gym memberships, just a commitment to get it in. Break it into three ten-minute bursts of walking and get the same benefits. Some walking is better than no walking any day of the week.
Be kind to yourself. The holidays can cause weight gain, shorter days can cause low mood, and the flu season can cause sickness. Listen to your body and give it what it needs: grace, a nutritious meal, sunlight, and enjoyable movement!
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Source: The Dairy Alliance, Mississippi Dairy Farm Families
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 (15-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 (5-ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
- 1⁄2 cup half-and-half
- 1⁄2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved, plus more for garnishing
- Heat butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery, and sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, paprika, cumin, and thyme and cook a few more minutes.
- Add drained red peppers, tomatoes, and chicken broth. Let simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Using either a hand-held immersion blender or regular blender, puree until smooth. *Be careful adding hot liquid to regular blender. Add Greek yogurt, half-and-half, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until combined and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes
Perfect for fall parties! To make standard-sized cupcakes, just use a traditional muffin tin and adjust the time for baking.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 + 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice pulp-free
- sprinkles (optional garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 24-cup mini muffin tin with paper liners.
Mix flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Mix and set aside.
Combine pumpkin puree, sugar, egg, oil, and juice in a large bowl. Whisk until just blended.
Add flour to the pumpkin mixture and stir with a fork or whisk until moistened.
Use a tablespoon to fill prepared muffin cups about ¾ full.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake.
Remove cupcakes from muffin tin and allow to cool completely on a wire baking rack before decorating.
Best with homemade or store-bought cream cheese frosting!