5 Healthy Fall Foods
Fall is upon us and has brought with it a wealth of colors and smells, but one of the most important parts of autumn is the produce. The word “harvest” was actually the term originally applied to this season before the 16th century. There are a ton of healthy fruits and vegetables available during fall. Let’s take a look at five fall favorites and some recipes to go with them.
These days, apples are available all year round, but really, autumn is when apples thrive. You’ll see a ton of apple varietals in beautiful colors. Every type of apple has a different taste and texture, from crunchy and tart to sweet and juicy.
Apples are a wonder fruit, rich in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. They are good for the heart and can decrease the risk of diabetes and cancer. Most people like to enjoy them raw, though they are most popularly used in fall to make cider. Mulled cider is easy to make, delicious, and a great alternative to other holiday drinks that are full of calories, like eggnog.
To turn your apple into a warm and healthy dessert, stick it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. The baked apple is a very loose and adaptable snack. Let your kids top it with some cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg, or other toppings of their choice.
Cranberries are low in calories, low in fat, and cholesterol free. They are a fantastic source of vitamin C and fiber and are known to keep the urinary tract healthy. Cranberries also prevent plaque formation on teeth.
While they can be eaten raw, cranberries can be too tart to enjoy alone. Next time you make a salad with mixed greens, throw a handful of cranberries in for that extra bit of sweetness. An apple-cranberry crisp combines the delicious fruit with whole oats for a sweet after-dinner treat.
Eggplant goes with just about any palate or budget, not to mention the health benefits. Eggplant is a great source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and folate. In terms of minerals, eggplant is filled with calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
When prepared properly, eggplant really does go well with everything and often replaces proteins in meaty dishes. Eggplant parmesan pizza is a great way to get kids to try eggplant in a familiar form.
4. Winter squash
Although the name might say otherwise, winter squash actually come into season in the early fall and last into the winter. All forms of squash have a reputation for containing a ton of healthy nutrients, especially fiber, but winter squash tends to be even denser with nutrients. A winter squash, like butternut squash, contains more beta-carotene, potassium, and B vitamins than a summer squash. Beta-carotene plays a key role in fighting heart disease and cancer and is great for eye health.
Winter squash can seem a bit intimidating for the inexperienced cook, but it turns out that squash is actually a highly versatile ingredient. You can substitute squash for potatoes to make a delicious mashed maple squash or bake rich, delightfully sweet squash tea bread. If all else fails, you can toss them into your salad or roast them with a pleasant helping of other fall favorites.
Pumpkins are a type of squash, but deserve a section all their own. A Halloween favorite, pumpkins are for more than just carving. They are incredibly rich in antioxidants and vitamins, namely vitamin A. Pumpkins are extremely low in calories but are an excellent source of leutin, xanthins, and carotenes. When you’re carving those pumpkins, roast the seeds for a tasty, magnesium-rich snack.
The pumpkin pulp is what goes into all sorts of delicious fall recipes. You’re probably familiar with it in the pie form, but pumpkin pie is usually full of added sugar. Instead, opt for some mini pumpkin muffins (use whole wheat flour), which are low in fat but deceptively tasty.
Don’t be afraid to ask your local produce department what other vegetables and fruits are in season, or take a family adventure to your farmer’s market for fresh, in-season goodies.
Photo Credit : Shannon Kringen