- February 8, 2023
Fall is known for many great things. From Halloween and hay rides to Thanksgiving dinners with all of the trimmings. But did you know that the seasonal produce that we have come to associate with fall is packed with nutrients and is some of the healthiest food we can get regardless of the season? As
Fall is known for many great things. From Halloween and hay rides to Thanksgiving dinners with all of the trimmings. But did you know that the seasonal produce that we have come to associate with fall is packed with nutrients and is some of the healthiest food we can get regardless of the season? As I have mentioned in previous articles, research has shown that a diet rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates has been shown to reduce inflammation and the incidence of disease. So, adding these nutritious food to your diet is a big step toward better health.
Apples – Everyone loves apples, and the recipes are almost endless. There are literally thousands of varieties, and they are high in flavonoids which have been shown to keep the brain healthy. For an added benefit, leave the skin on for extra fiber and polyphenols, which are linked to lower rates of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and Vitamin C, which, as most people know, is a powerful antioxidant. Apples are great on their own but can also be added to almost any recipe. They pair very well with meats such as pork and are great on salads as well.
Cranberries – No other food is connected more with the holidays than cranberries (no, not the jelly that comes in a can). While their bright red coloring and tartness are a great addition to poultry and pork dishes, they are also packed full of fiber, Vitamin C, and compounds called Anthocyanins. According to research, anthocyanins help reduce oxidative stress from things such as smoke and exposure to harmful UV rays. This stress produces free radicals, which have been linked to many diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Winter squash – The term winter squash includes any squash harvested in the fall. This includes spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash. Any of these are great to eat throughout the fall and winter as they store very well and are packed with nutrients such as Vitamin A, beta-carotene, magnesium, and potassium. Vitamin A is beneficial for eye health and general immunity and helps maintain the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Try them roasted, mashed, or in soups for a great addition to any meal.
Pumpkins – When we think of October and Halloween, we think of pumpkins, and no Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is complete without a slice of pumpkin pie. There is so much more to this squash (yes, a pumpkin is also a winter squash), however. Like their cousins, pumpkins are packed with Vitamins C and A. Not just for decoration or spiced lattes, try pumpkins in pancakes, muffins, and even pizza!
Brussel sprouts – Brussel sprouts are very underrated in the taste department, as they are delicious if properly prepared and look like baby cabbages. They are a type of cruciferous vegetable like broccoli and cauliflower, which contain glucosinolates. Research has shown that these metabolites have cancer-preventative properties and may prevent the growth of cancer cells. Try roasting them with honey or with onions and a touch of olive.
Sweet potatoes – Like the other foods mentioned on this list, sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They will keep for long periods of time and can be eaten throughout the fall and winter seasons. The options for cooking sweet potatoes are endless. They are great roasted, mashed, or baked. They can also be easily be sliced and air fried for a great and healthy side to any meal.
The concept of farm-to-table food is not new though the movement has mostly gained traction in recent years. North Central Pa is no exception to this movement and is blessed to have many great farm markets where people can buy fresh produce. By purchasing directly from local farmers, we are able to get foods that are seasonal and picked at their peak. This allows us to keep our pantries stocked with food that is not only delicious but also healthy and nutritious. So, add some of these fall favorites to your menu, and remember to shop local, shop often, and shop seasonally.