Eating seasonally is a delicious option for many reasons. Not only are you getting produce at the peak of its flavor, you are also getting it at the peak of its nutrition. While it can be sad to see the summer tomatoes, berries and corn disappear from the market, fall brings its own delicious bounty to the table and each seasonal ingredient is packed with nutrients that do your body good. Food is medicine. Food nourishes. That’s why we eat, right? Fall and winter produce offerings often match the colors of the season and those colors boast a variety of good-for-you nutrients. Here is a breakdown of ingredients the season has to offer and why you should be eating it.
Winter squash comes in a number of varieties, including acorn, butternut, delicata, hubbard and kabocha. These yellow and orange starchy vegetables are a great source of beta-carotene which we know is good for our eyes, vitamin C which supports our immune system as we enter cold season and fiber which promotes good digestive health among many other things. Don’t skip roasting the seeds which are full of heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They can be enjoyed as a snack or on top of a salad.
Greens are a staple in the fall and winter and the cooler weather brings out a sweeter, less bitter taste in many of them. Some varieties include kale, chard, radicchio, spinach, lettuce, arugula and broccoli rabe. Each type of green contains a different variety of nutrients so make it a point to try the whole spectrum. In general, greens are one of the most nutrient dense veggies in your produce aisle. Greens have been shown to aid in the prevention of some cancers, have cholesterol lowering abilities and generally detoxify our bodies.
Brussels sprouts have experienced a boost in popularity in recent years as more home cooks are discovering that the vegetables they hated as a child can be delicious. Brussels sprouts are nutrient powerhouses, containing more than 100 percent of the daily values of vitamins K and C. They are full of antioxidants and can help to lower cholesterol.
Beets are another polarizing vegetable with many people claiming either undying love or hatred for the humble roots. For their eye-catching gold and red colors and their superior nutritional content, beets are worth a try. Beets contain phytochemicals called betalins which act as powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying agents that help beets act as cancer and heart disease preventers.
Fall also brings the return of apple season with many varieties available, ranging from sweet to tart and soft to crunchy. Eating whole apples may help lower cholesterol and prevent spikes in blood sugar. They can also help you feel full and satisfied, making them an excellent choice for dessert or a snack. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?
What is your favorite fall/winter seasonal ingredient?
Recipes to Try:
Beet and Apple Salad (above)