Fall is in full swing and it brings with it a host of family holidays, the changing of the trees, comfy sweaters, and in-season fall foods. While we have a tendency to relate the season to Halloween candies and Thanksgiving feasts, fall brings a host of healthful foods along as well.
Fall foods are most known for their bright orange, red, and yellow colors. These colors are not just beautiful they also help tell us what nutrients lie within them. Fruits and Veggies that contain hues of orange and red provide beta-carotene which converts to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision, skin, immune system health, cell growth and division, and bone growth. These foods also contain a long list of other nutrients and phytochemicals that are important for any well balanced diet like: Vitamin C, fiber, and mood boosting amino acids.
Here is a list of my top 5.
1. Pumpkin- This fall food is packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and fiber. Pumpkin is a very nutrient dense food while keeping the calories minimal. A 1 cup serving of pureed pumpkin is only 49 calories while providing 3 grams of fiber, 245% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A and 19% of daily Vitamin C. Pumpkin also brings a lot of moisture to the table so it makes it a great option to use in place of oils in baking recipes. I will be sharing one of my favorite pumpkin recipes in the coming week, it is my #1 pick after all! Keep in mind that all of those popular pumpkin drinks are made from artificial flavoring and do not contain any real pumpkin, so while they are tasty, they don't provide any of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin. When it comes to pumpkin, we really do need to keep it real to receive the benefits.
2. Butternut Squash- This squash is the poster child for winter squash varieties. If you are new to squash I recommend trying this variety first. Its sweet flavor is easily enjoyed. At only 82 calories for a 1 cup serving its low in calories while providing 457% of daily Vitamin A and 52% of daily Vitamin C requirements. This squash is readily used in a variety of recipes but if your looking for a recipe that is high in fiber, protein, and a southwestern flare try these Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchiladas.
3. Apples- This is my go-to fruit for fall. Apples come in a wide variety of taste profiles from very sweet to tart that will suite anyones' preferences. The key is you want to make sure you are consuming the peel to get all the nutrients and phytochemicals they provide. Apples provide 4 grams of fiber per serving which is 16% of your daily goal.
4. Sweet Potatoes-These veggies are known for being a pivotal casserole in our Thanksgiving feasts, but they are so much more. Sweet potatoes are tasty replacements for traditional french fries, and can be used mashed, boiled, roasted or oven fried. They are packed with Vitamin A and are a good source of iron.
5. Cauliflower- This fall vegetable is extremely versatile. While it doesn't contain red or orange hues, it is an excellent compliment. A 1 cup serving brings 77% of your daily Vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber. Cauliflower can be eaten raw, steamed, mashed, or roasted. This veggie can be used as a pizza crust replacement, transformed into the texture of rice with a couple of quick pulses of a food processor,or even the base of a cream based sauce like Alfredo (like my Creamy Cauliflower Shrimp Alfredo).