By Carol Witte, RDN, Director of Nutrition Services and Senior Centers
Michigan is amazing with its four seasons and the variety of foods and activities available for each one! Fall is one of my favorites. Even though the sun sets sooner and the nights get cooler, I truly enjoy fall for its cooler evenings and healthy fall produce! It is the time of year to use local foods to stock up for delicious meals throughout the winter. The markets are filled with a variety of fall fruits and vegetables.
Healthy Fall Vegetables
You always know it is fall when you see all the pumpkin varieties at the farmers markets and grocery stores. And they are not just for Halloween decorations, they are very nutritious—packed with nutrients that can help boost your immunity as the flu season rolls around. Between the pulp and the seeds you get a variety of nutrients including vitamins A, E, B, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and fiber.
The varieties are amazing and delicious and are a great source of vitamin A, potassium and fiber. You can cook a whole squash before removing the seeds in a microwave or oven. Leftovers can be mashed and frozen into smaller portions. Add some herbs and spices to add to the flavor.
Beets, Parsnips & Rutabaga
Beets are one of my favorite vegetables. They are edible from their leafy greens down to
the bulbous root. The leaves are similar to spinach and are delicious sautéed. Parsnips are cousins to carrots. They have the same root shape but with white flesh. Both parsnips and rutabaga are tasty in potato dishes or in stews.
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins
A and C as well as fiber. They are easy to prepare by baking or microwaving and are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Try them mashed for breakfast with a little cinnamon for a delicious treat.
Kale & Cabbage
Kale is full of nutrients. It tastes sweeter after a frost and can survive a snowstorm. Both kale and cabbage are delicious sautéed and cooked in soup, but are also excellent raw in salads.
Healthy Fall Fruits
Pears are unique in that they do not ripen on the tree; they will ripen at room temperature after they’re picked. Try pears on the grill and poached. They are also great added into soups or smoothies or even as a delicious appetizer with cheese. Pears are a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
Cranberries & Pomegranates
Many individuals wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy these treats but that is too long to wait for their wealth of nutritional benefits. Like grapes, cranberries contain resveratrol, a phytochemical that has been found to protect our hearts from oxidative damage and support healthy blood pressure. Pomegranates taste wonderful in salads and desserts.
Last but not least are apples. Well known by all, they are delicious and a great fall fruit that can be eaten as a snack, or added to many foods including salads, soups and side dishes.
It is simple to fall into a healthy lifestyle by filling your plate with colorful produce and remembering to plan an activity like a walk on a cool fall day.