Fall: A Seasonal Food Pairing

By Linda Williamson

Fall is easily my favorite season.

I relish the transitions to  colder nights, dewy mornings, the promise of snow in our now ochre mountains  and leaves changing roles from green canopy to golden blanket.

Fall sees a colorful change in our food supply as well. The vibrant greens of tender lettuces become earthy and dark with kales and collards. Bright red peppers and tomatoes step aside for the dense orange of pumpkin, kabocha  and acorn squashes. Brown foods appear as something other than those coated in flour and dipped in hot oil for a crunchy fried thing: I’m talking about turnips, rutabagas, parsnips and sweet potatoes roasted on a sheet pan; braised pot roasts with onion, potatoes, golden beets and whole cloves of garlic; creamy celeriac soup and hearty beef butternut stew, savory and sweet at once; and kohlrabi or cabbage turned to sour, salty krauts that bring a living vibrancy to meals of stored foods picked and put away well before. Fall signifies a shift from the raw, cooling foods of summer to the warm, building foods of winter — a trend that  corresponds with our natural phases as outdoor athletes  shifting between performance and training  or sometimes rest  periods as winter draws near.

Whichever phase you’re embracing this fall, I offer three nutritious tips to  pair with this changing season.

The first is staying hydrated.  We’re not inclined to drink as much water when it’s cold as when it’s hot. Dehydration can lead to tight muscles, poor thermoregulation (especially for us ladies)  and constipation — none are pleasant when you’re trying to crush outside in the cold!  Warm beverages like herbal teas, bone broth, hot lemon water with honey or Skratch Labs' Hot Apple Cider keep us hydrated while warming our bodies from the inside out. Some offer the side benefit of fluid nutrition in the form of electrolytes and other minerals, carbohydrates  or digestion stimulating acid. A steaming hot beverage will up the odds that you stay  hydrated in the cold. I highly recommend investing in an insulated beverage container, or maybe three.

As the temperature drops  it takes more energy for our bodies to do pretty much everything: keep us warm, build muscle, even digest food. My second tip for seasonal eating this fall is to think “pre-digested”, especially when eating during play. Cooking and fermenting are both simple processes that make foods more digestible and bioavailable (albeit losing a few nutrients to heat and time). Try topping your favorite soup with a zesty sauerkraut to get the benefits of both in a packable format that you can take to the crag or into the mountains.

Finally, to provide enduring energy and keep  us satiated on the go, fat reigns supreme. Fat is that slow-burning fuel that produces energy long after we’ve consumed it, keeping our blood sugar steady as we push our bodies long and far. Fat also stimulates satiety by causing the release of a cool little hormone called cholecystokinin. In other words, fat = fullness. Winter meals are typically fattier than those we eat in summer. This makes sense because of  increased energy needs for maintaining bodily processes and our penchant for comforting and filling foods during the colder months.

A favorite recipe that ticks each of these boxes (and travels well into the backcountry or  the tailgate) is my homemade Miso Seaweed Soup. It’s hydrating, warm and fermented, with a touch of healthy fats. Plus, it packs an umami-electrolyte-punch that satisfies regardless of how hungry, tired, or thirsty I feel. Try it out — I hope it keeps you nourished this fall and during many cold weather adventures to come.

Miso Seaweed Soup


12-16 ounces bone broth or water

2 tbsp seaweed (I like wakame, arame, or dulse)

2 tsp ground mushroom (like shiitake, lion’s mane or reishi)

1 tbsp miso (Dandelion Leek is a favorite)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, ghee, goat ghee, coconut oil, or other fat of your choice

pinch of sea salt

optional avocado + protein


Boil water or heat bone broth to a simmer. Transfer fluid to an insulated container or pour directly into your bowl. Add the seaweed, ground mushroom, miso and sea salt, stirring to combine and re-hydrate. Top with oil / fat of your choice and enjoy.

For more substance or to make a meal of it, add a half avocado and a soft boiled egg, a can of mussels, or pre-cooked chicken, fish, or tempeh.


Linda Williamson is a climber, trail runner, all around mountain enthusiast, and full-time foodie. She is the face behind The Nourishing Nomad, a Functional Nutrition practice specializing in digestive wellness, traditional foods preparation, and real food for the outdoor adventurer.

Photo credit (L to R): Cat Coe, Linda Williamson, Drew Smith

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