Fall is finally here, and I cannot be more excited. A trip to my local farmers market showed me that as the temperature continues to drop, new seasonal produce is taking the place of the last late summer harvest. From pumpkins to brussel sprouts, we all know that fall’s bountiful harvest is delicious, but did you know eating produce that is in season is more nutritious as well? Here’s your shopping cheat sheet to pick fruits and veggies that are both packed with nutrients and options your whole family will love.
- Apples: Apples are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C. Try sautéing them with cinnamon for an amazing pancake topper or adding them to muffins or bread for added sweetness without any refined sugar.
- Beets: Beets are a good source of iron, vitamin C, and a nutrient called betaine that is essential for cardiovascular health and protection against liver disease. I was hesitant to try beets, but recently picked some up from my farmers market, and boy, are they delicious! Try roasting them in the oven until fork-tender for a sweet side dish or shredding them raw into a salad. Kids, especially little girls, will LOVE the bright pink color.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is available year round, but is especially flavorful and nutritious this time of year. As an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, and folate (which is especially important for expecting mothers in preventing fetal neural tube defects), broccoli really packs a nutritional punch. If your kids turn their nose up at anything green, try topping steamed broccoli with some melted cheese (in moderation) or throwing it into a stir-fry.
- Winter Squash: Despite their name, winter squashes are in season throughout the fall and winter, and they come in a variety shapes, textures, and colors. Their flesh has a distinctive orange color, which signifies that they’re high in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. Squash are also great sources of potassium, iron, and fiber. Acorn squash is my favorite winter squash. I love to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast them in a 3500 oven for 45 minutes. When the flesh is fork-tender, fill the center with a teaspoon of butter, a teaspoon of brown sugar, and two tablespoons of crushed pineapple. Return to the oven to heat up the extra “goodies”. Serve with a spoon to scoop out the flesh and mix it with the toppings. Even kids will love these, and it’s sure to become a new, healthy family favorite.
These are only a few examples of the nutritious and delicious offerings the fall harvest holds. Be adventurous and try something new; you might be surprised by what you like. Kids still not hopping on the fruit and vegetable train? Bring them to the farmers market with you! Have them pick something out and let them help pick a recipe and prepare it. They’ll be excited to try their new fruit and veggie choices because they helped to make it!