With autumn upon us, there are plenty of seasonal vegetables and fruit to savor.

What better time to begin following more of a plant-based meal plan? Eating plant-based means shifting food choices to more plant foods such as vegetables, beans, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, nuts, fruits and whole grains. It is not necessarily switching to a vegetarian or vegan meal plan. Meals are created focused on plants without forgoing animal products.

Shifting to eating more plant foods has no metric— more matters, regardless of how much “more” more is. Autumn is an excellent season to begin the shift. Maybe it’s enacting eating one meat-free meal a week such as Meatless Mondays where you opt to cook a portabella burger and baked sweet potato fries at home in lieu of frequenting your favorite local burger joint; Switching to more plant-based snacks like local apples paired with homemade roasted pumpkin seeds; Or aiming for one meatless meal a day like a hearty stew made with local winter squash, beans and leafy greens. Choose whatever makes most sense for you.

One tasty, creative way to incorporate more locally-grown produce into meals is building bowls with colorful seasonal vegetables, whole grains and protein foods. Don’t overthink it. Simply let the colors, flavors and textures of the season be your guide.

Autumn Comfort Bowl
Serves: 2

What You Need:

  • 1 sweet potato, washed and chopped into 1-inch squares with skin on
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dried lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup uncooked wheat berries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup unsalted vegetable stock
  • ½ tablespoon heart-healthy buttery spread
  • 1 ½ cup chopped green cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin spice pecans*
  • 2 tablespoons grated apple with peal on
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt, for garnish

* Toast pecans ahead of time in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Dust with pumpkin pie spice blend to liking.
How to Make It:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place sweet potato on an aluminum foil lined sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and ground pepper.
  3. Bake in oven for 25 to 40 minutes, tossing once through process. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare remaining ingredients.
  5. Place lentils, water, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cover with tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until lentils are done.
  6. Add wheat berries and stock to another small sauce pan and cook according to package instructions.
  7. Preheat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add buttery spread and bring to a gentle boil. Mix in cabbage and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Fill two large bowls with sweet potatoes, lentils, wheat berries and cabbage side by side, giving each their own section. Sprinkle with pecans and grated apple. Drizzle with yogurt and enjoy.

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