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Choose seasonal foods for the best flavor, freshness, and nutritional value. In-season foods are higher in vitamins and minerals.

There are many delicious and healthy fall foods available to provide health benefits.

It’s hard to miss the pumpkins and apples which are probably the most popular fall foods. Pumpkins contain beta carotene. Beta carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the body. Canned pumpkin is good but you can also buy pumpkins and bake them. Choose the smaller ones as the bigger ones are stringy and have less flavor. Slice the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and roast them face down on a baking sheet until they are soft. Let cool to handle, then scoop out the flesh. You can even freeze it for later use. The flesh can be pureed for pies or added to waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, muffins, or dips.

There are a variety of apples to choose from. Try to keep the skin on which provides increased nutrients such as antioxidants, Vitamin C, and fiber. The skin also contains pectin, a prebiotic which may help improve GI health. Eat a variety of apples since each kind has a slightly different nutrient profile.

Winter squash includes acorn and butternut squash. These squash contain beta-carotene, Vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Peel, scoop out the seeds, and cut into cubes to be roasted, grilled, steamed, or baked. As another side option, once they are cooked you can mash them. Spaghetti squash is another winter vegetable that contains fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, and Vitamin B6. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake until soft. Cool to handle and scrape out the inside with a fork. This can be a vegetable alternative to spaghetti.

Pears are another fall fruit that contains Vitamin C and fiber. They are great for slicing into salads, cooking or adding to sparkling water.

Leeks are a flavorful, milder alternative to onions. They contain flavonoids, antioxidants that may have anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used in the same way onions are used.

Broccoli and Brussel sprouts are rich in several vitamins and minerals. Either can be steamed or roasted as a side dish or added to casseroles.

Sweet potatoes contain a lot of nutrients, including fiber, Vitamin A and C. As a colorful side dish, they can be baked, roasted, or mashed. They can also be peeled, sliced, and made into sweet potato fries.

Parsnips are a root vegetable with some nuttiness and sweetness. They contain Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and fiber. Serve them mashed, roasted, baked, sautéed, grilled, or added to soups, stews, or casseroles.

Enjoy a wide variety of fall foods to promote optimum health. It’s always fun experimenting with a new fall food!

Author: Shelley Sebring, RD, LDN

Title: Registered Dietitian


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