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10 2021 Fall Food Trends That You Absolutely Will Love

As if we needed another reason to get excited about autumn...

Food & Drink

There is no way for me to hide the absolute joy unspeakable that I have about the fact that fall is just a few days away (September 22)! While there are a billion-and-one things that I adore about this time of the year, one of my favorites is preparing warm dishes, on purpose, to contrast the cooler weather that's headed our way.


At this point, it's kinda becoming a tradition for me to share some of the food trends that are big during each year. So why break with tradition, right? If you enjoy cooking (or you're so-so about it but you want to cook more this fall), here are 10 popular things that totally hit the spot when it comes to autumn-focused foods and drinks (by the way, all of the hyperlinks on foods are connected to recipes. Enjoy!).

1. All Things Apple

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It's kinda crazy that we see apples all year-round considering they are in season from late July thru early November yet we'll have to get into the kind of preservatives that are oftentimes put in foods so that we can eat them 12 months out of the year at another time. For now, what I'll say is since the fall is harvest season and apples are being picked in abundance during this time of the year, this is when you should enjoy making as many apple-inspired meals as possible. Apple pie. Apple crisp. Apple butter. Applesauce. Apple waffles. You name it.

2. All Things Pumpkin

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You already know. The signature fruit for fall is definitely the pumpkin. Makes sense too since it's in season from mid-September through November. While the first dish that probably comes to your mind is pumpkin pie, don't sleep on other ones like pumpkin bread, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes and even pumpkin milkshakes!

3. Espresso

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If you've ever wondered what the differences are between a cup of espresso vs. a cup of coffee, the short long of it is they both are brewed differently which results in espresso being a thicker and more concentrated form of whatever coffee bean you're consuming. It's also like taking "a shot" of the bean because while coffee servings are oftentimes eight ounces, espresso is usually just one.

That said, as far as heaping hot brews go, this year, it's espresso that's getting a lot of attention. If you're curious about what some of the current best beans are, Roasty Coffee did an article on the topic. You can check it out here.

4.  Pickling

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Again, since fall is harvest season, I shouldn't be shocked in the least, just how much I've been reading about pickled veggies. Basically, when you choose to pickle a food, you are allowing it to ferment in a brine or vinegar solution (think cucumbers turning into pickles). The health benefits of pickling are pretty cool because it can help you to better digest your food, curb sugar spikes, increase your antibiotic intake, treat muscle cramps and balance your electrolytes. Plus, pickling is so much better for you than canned goods. If you'd like to attempt to do some pickling this fall, it's a lot easier to do than you might think. Click here to watch a video that will walk you through it.

5. Hot Chicken “Junk Food”

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I live in Nashville, so of course, I smiled when I saw that hot chicken was a big fall food trend right now (I mean, Nashville Hot Chicken, right?). Hot chicken burgers. Buffalo chicken pizza. Hot chicken wings. Hot chicken chili. Homemade buffalo chicken sauce. If hot chicken is totally your thing, then this is totally your season to dig all the way in!

6. Sweet Potatoes

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I like sweet potatoes a lot. One, because they taste great and two, because they're considered to be a perfect food (that basically means that they have a ton of nutrients in them). This is another food that goes really well with being a fall food trend because it's harvested between September and early October. Sweet potato fries. Mashed sweet potatoes. Sweet potato cornbread. Sweet potato guacamole. And definitely sweet potato pie. You can't go wrong with putting some of these in your grocery cart. That's for sure.

7. Mocktails

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Whether you realize it or not, whether it was intentional or not, I'm pretty sure that you've had a mocktail before. It's simply a cocktail that doesn't have any alcohol in it and this is another thing that is big this fall season. I mentioned in the intro that I would hyperlink recipes to all of the specific kinds of foods that I mention. Well, for this, I decided to share mocktails that have a fall theme to them. Caramel Apple Pie Mocktail. Sparkling Citrus Pomegranate Mocktail. Non-Alcoholic Sangria. Maple Pear Sparkler. Mocktail Kahlua Coffee Frappuccino. These are just some of the ones that particularly caught my eye.

8. Vegetarian Soups

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Ah. Vegetarian soups. This makes me think about the interesting relationship that I have with tomato soup. For one thing, I absolutely have to crave it. Secondly, I don't really like it unless I can have a homemade grilled cheese sandwich along with it. And boy, if that doesn't say "welcome to fall", I'm not sure what does.

Quinoa Vegetarian Soup with Kale. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup. The Absolute Best Lentil Soup. Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili. Classic Minestrone Soup. Lawd, is there anything better than curling up on your couch when it's cold outside and sipping on a cup of hot homemade soup? I doubt it. I seriously do.

9. Comfort Foods

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Comfort foods are just that — foods that bring us comfort, joy and relaxation. The challenge with consuming them all of the time is many of them are high in sugar and/or carbs. Still, being that comfort foods are another huge fall food trend, try to not totally deprive yourself of things like macaroni and cheese, chicken and waffles, deep dish pizza, lasagna (meat here and veggie here) and whatever it is that your favorite auntie likes to make around the holiday season. The way I see it, comfort foods shouldn't be avoided, just consumed in moderation. Enjoy, sis.

10. Tea

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Raise your hand if you're shocked that tea is a big fall food trend. If anything, I'm thinking that we're all giving a collective "duh". Still, since herbal tea helps to hydrate, boost immunity, improve digestion, prevent chronic diseases and even stimulate brain function, definitely take out a few moments to check out my shout-out to teas via "10 Hot Drinks To Keep You Warm This Fall & Winter" and "10 'Uncommon' Teas You Should Add To Your Stash (& Why)". So, set aside a weekend to finish that book you've been trying to get around to all year-long and don't forget to have a warm cup of tea while you do it. It's one of the best ways to ring in the fall season. No doubt about it.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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