We love this time of the year! The weather is cooling down, and we’re starting to see the colors of autumn all around us. While corn on the cob and fresh watermelons will soon be a thing of the past, the fall harvest brings a whole new assortment of excellent heart-healthy fruits and vegetables. The produce markets will soon be bursting with squash, beets, pumpkins, apples, pears, broccoli and Brussel sprouts just waiting for us to find healthy ways to include them in our meal plans.
Each season brings a new set of colorful fruits and vegetables that are loaded with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs.
Fall produce is at its peak flavor right now, so try incorporating one or all of our top picks into your menu this month.
Everyone has heard the phrase “An apple a day helps keep the doctor away,” but there is nothing better than biting into a crisp fall apple. The sweet, crunchy taste is at its best in the autumn. When choosing apples pick ones that are firm and free of blemishes or bruises. Apples emit ethylene, which speeds up ripening, so always store them in a cool place away from bananas or citrus.
This favorite purple root vegetable may be available all year-round, but they are best in the fall. You can find many varieties that produce white and even a golden yellow roots, but the reddish-purple color is our favorite. Look for firm, smooth bulbs with crisp green tops. For the best flavor don’t wash the beets until you are ready to use them. And don’t throw the beet greens away use them in a salad to capture all their health
- Brussels Sprouts
For such a tiny vegetable, Brussels sprouts are full of nutrients. Just one cup provides more vitamin C and vitamin K than most other vegetables. They have a mild somewhat bitter taste and are best roasted. Look for small firm heads that are bright green and have no blemishes. Avoid those that are light and airy.
Even though onions can be found all year long, most onions are harvested in late summer and into early fall. A staple in most dishes, onion adds the finishing touch to most savory dishes. Onions have a juicy flesh, covered with a papery skin and come in a broad range of sizes, shapes, and flavors. When buying onions, be sure to look for firm onions that are free of cuts and blemishes.
Pears are the most overlooked sweet fruit of fall. Like their cousin the apple, pears can work great in any dish apples would typically be used. They come in a variety of flavors from tart to sweet. Pears are a healthy source of soluble fiber, which helps your body maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
A member of the squash family, pumpkins are rich in history and health Unlike summer squash, winter squash is finely textured and slightly sweet. Because of its thick skin, pumpkin can be stored for months, although you probably won’t wait that long to eat it. The nutty flavor goes best with other fall flavorings like cinnamon and ginger. A low-calorie food, pumpkins are full of dietary fiber and brimming with vitamin A
- Sweet Potatoes
These nutrient-rich potatoes are excellent in both sweet and savory dishes and have the best flavor during fall. Like squash, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene.
- Winter Squash
From acorn to butternut nothing screams fall like squash. They are a fall favorite for roasting, mashing and pureeing. Winter squash is one of the best plant-based sources of Omega-3s and beta carotene, making them the perfect veggie to consume during cold and flu season.
Your local produce market will carry a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, but buying seasonal produce will provide you the best value and best tasting options for getting your 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Edna Cox Rice, Founder of Carolina Nutrition Consultants, is a well-known Nutrition and Fitness Expert in Lexington, SC. Edna shares reliable and practical advice on how to incorporate healthier food and smarter lifestyle choices for a healthier YOU.
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