Fresh pumpkin pie. Apples straight from the orchard. Home-grown squash. Savory sweet potatoes. Nothing compares to locally grown food from the farm making its way to your table. Why not incorporate a few fall favorites into your diet?
Pack on the Pumpkin
With the arrival of fall comes plump pumpkins ready to be harvested from fields. Think pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and even pumpkin beer. Or get creative in the kitchen and try out pumpkin ravioli or risotto. The sky is the limit with this rich beta-carotene food. Just 1 cup of cooked pumpkin yields more than 200 percent of your RDA of Vitamin A, which is an asset to your vision. Cooked pumpkin is also packed with potassium. Don’t overlook the pumpkin seeds either; these are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid that helps in the production of serotonin. Not to mention pumpkins seeds being good sources of copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and other essential minerals!
Add Apples to Your Diet
With 4 grams of fiber per serving, apples should be a fall staple in your diet. Whether you start the day with the apple, bite into an apple for an afternoon snack, or indulge in homemade apple pie for dessert, this fruit deserves to be a part of your diet. Full of antioxidants, apples come in a variety of textures and flavors that you and your family are sure to love. Try pairing Granny Smith apples with Gorgonzola and maple dressing. Or celebrate the season with a crisp caramel apple. Don’t miss out on the skin either. Packed with flavonoids, apples can be a weapon in better health. Want an extra flavonoid boost? Go for the Pink Lady apples.
Say Yes to Squash
Squash is a fall favorite that people have grown to love. The options are endless for this seasonal vegetable. Try piping hot squash bread fresh from the oven served with butternut squash soup. Or expand your culinary horizons with acorn squash over penne, seasoned with cinnamon and ginger. And squash your risk of gallstones by consuming more squash. According to a recent study, 1 cup of acorn squash has approximately 28 percent of the RDA for magnesium — a mineral that can reduce the risk of gallstones. Squash also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which support metabolism, benefit brain health, as well as reduce inflammation.
Savor the Sweet Potatoes
Tired of the traditional sweet potato casserole? Why not try roasting your sweet potatoes in wedges? You might actually maintain more vitamins this way. And with sweet potatoes, you’ll want to maintain all the vitamins you can. This fat-free food contains B6, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes also have anti-inflammatory benefits and can regulate blood sugar spikes (unlike white potatoes).
So before you pass on your local farmers’ market, think again! Take your food from farm to table by cherishing fall favorites. Incorporate the nutritional benefits of pumpkin, apples, squash and sweet potatoes into your diet.
Credit: Living at the Hill, August 2015 issue