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One of the best ways to maximize both flavor and nutrition is by eating foods that are in season. So go ahead, treat your taste buds and nourish your body by falling in love with these autumn super-foods.
The possibilities of pumpkin are endless…and go way beyond a latte. Use it pureed for soups and treats (mmm, pumpkin cookies!) or scoop it out and bake the seeds (sprinkle with salt for a savory taste; dust with sugar and cinnamon for a sweeter bite).
Not only is pumpkin delicious, but it provides a generous dose of beta-carotene, as do most most other orange foods like carrots and yams. Your body converts the beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is good for the eyes. As for the seeds, they’re a great source of zinc and magnesium (and not to mention protein). Both are important for the immune system, which, let’s face it, can get pretty weak this time of year.
Believe it or not, squash is way more than just a decorative ornament for your coffee table. Butternut squash is particularly high in calcium and potassium, which will help bone and muscle health. Plus, if you’re not a fan of pumpkin, you can boost your vitamin A level with this fall staple as well.
If you’re looking to watch your carb intake but don’t want to abandon pasta completely (seriously, who does?), spaghetti squash is your answer. Slice it lengthwise, scoop out the center, and place it face down in a glass pan filled with one or two inches of water. Bake at 350 for about an hour (or until squash is tender; poke with a fork to check) and let cool. Scrape with a fork, top with some crushed tomatoes, and voilà– low-carb “noodles”!
Apples to Apples
Aside from their crisp, juicy taste, fall’s signature fruit offers a lot in terms of health benefits. First and foremost, a medium apple supplies about four grams of soluble fiber (nearly a quarter of the daily recommended amount) , which slows digestion. This helps maintain blood sugar levels and keepings you feeling fuller longer. Additionally, apples provide a healthy dose of vitamin C (about 14 percent of the daily recommended amount). Yeah, there is truth to, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” after all.
Nuts in general are known for their nutritious superpowers. Since pecans seem to be more prevalent in fall and holiday recipes (pecan pie, anybody?), we thought we’d “crack” down on their benefits in particular.
Pecans are known as a “nutrient-dense” food; that is, they provide a lot of nutrition (more than 19 vitamins and minerals in this case) in a small amount (about a palm-full equals a serving). One of the biggest benefits pecans provide is a hearty dose of healthy fats. Monounsaturated fats supply vitamin E, which is important in forming and protecting red blood cells– the oxygen carrying kind. Pecans are packed with protein, so if you’re not a big meat-eater, these are a suitable substitute. So go nuts and sprinkle some pecans over fruit and Greek yogurt or pop them plain as a mid- day snack.
Fall is in no way lacking incredibly delicious and nutritious foods. Get creative and try a new fruit or veggie this season.
Photo by Tyler Hankins