Fall is a time of harvest and bounty. As the leaves change color overhead and the weather cools down outside, grocery store shelves and farmer’s market stands start to fill up with some of the most amazing fruits and vegetables available.
Whether you’re looking to load up your shopping cart or thinking about growing and harvesting a garden of your very own, here are eight nutritious and delicious fall superfoods, perfect for hearty autumn meals:
Apples hit their peak season in late summer, and then positively thrive during the fall months. They come in sweet and tart varieties, and are delicious whether you eat them raw, or bake them up in pies, muffins, and other autumn treats. Beyond their tasty appeal, apples are also full of nutrients, including disease-fighting antioxidants and flavonoids, as well as a healthful amount of dietary fiber.
2.) Pumpkin and Squash
Pumpkins and fall go together like music and lyrics. During September, October, and November, it’s easy to spot pumpkins decorating doorsteps and windowsills all over the neighborhood. At the same time, coffee shops and stores seem to switch out half their inventory for “pumpkin spice”-flavored goods.
While we can’t vouch for “pumpkin spice” seasoning, studies show that pumpkin itself can be a great addition to your autumn diet. They taste absolutely delicious when slow-roasted and tossed on your favorite salad, for instance. Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, as well as vitamins A and C, which can all help give a big boost to your skin, eyes, and immune system. Pumpkin seeds are also full of healthy nutrients, including zinc.
And, to switch up your routine, don’t be afraid to dive into fall squashes, which are close relatives of pumpkins. Butternut and acorn squash, for example, are loaded with inflammation-lowering antioxidants, B vitamins, and fibers that can help regulate your cholesterol levels.
3.) Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts make for a hearty and filling side dish, especially when roasted with your favorite healthy oil and seasonings. These “mini-cabbages” begin to peak in September, and make for a reliable standby in the chilly days of October and November.
Even better, besides the variety of flavor they offer, brussels sprouts are remarkably healthy. A serving of these veggies provides an ample amount of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, and folate. Folate helps your body with any number of processes, from strengthening your bones to giving your energy levels a boost. Plus, brussels sprouts have long been lauded for their unique cancer-fighting properties.
4.) Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a favorite side dish for Thanksgiving meals and other fall feasts, and they make for great casseroles and soups.
In addition to their lovely orange color and uniquely sweet and savory flavor, sweet potatoes are dense with healthful nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. Sweet potatoes are also a natural way to curb inflammation, regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and even aid in weight loss.
One thing to keep in mind? Think about the way you’re cooking your sweet potatoes. Roasting or baking them seems to allow these veggies to retain more of their nutritious goodness than if you boil or steam them.
5.) Turnips and Parsnips
When autumn weather settles in, think about the “-ips”—turnips and parsnips, that is. These two root vegetables are close relatives, and are harvested during the fall and winter months.
Parsnips are a great source of potassium and fiber. Turnips, meanwhile, are healthful from tip to tail. The root vegetable part of the turnip is a great source of vitamin C, as well as cancer-preventing phytonutrients. The green, leafy part of the turnip is nutritionally dense, as well, offering up plenty of vitamins A, C, and K, plus tons of folate and calcium.
You can get the health benefits of pomegranates one of two ways. Pomegranate juice is tangy and sweet, and can be drunk on its own or used as an ingredient in marinades and salad dressings. Or, you could snack on pomegranate seeds, which are great on their own, or make for an easy way to add flair to a salad or main course.
However you get your servings of pomegranates, you can really enjoy the sweet and tart flavor, knowing that you’re getting an ample serving of antioxidants, potassium, protein, and folate. In various studies, pomegranate has been shown to help reduce joint pain, lower blood pressure, cut down inflammation, and even help ward off pancreatic and breast cancer.
Cauliflower is a vegetable with a unique and delicious flavor, which can be used in any number of ways. You can puree cauliflower and use it as the basis for a soup, or serve it up as a replacement for mashed potatoes. Many people love to roast it whole and serve as is. Pieces of sauteed or grilled cauliflower, meanwhile, make a great addition to omelets and salads, while “riced” cauliflower makes for a healthier alternative to traditional steamed rice. You can even use cauliflower to whip up a pizza crust.
However you serve it up, this cruciferous vegetable is a healthy autumnal marvel, boasting high levels of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber. Cauliflower is also full of unique plant compounds that may help to prevent cancer and lower cholesterol.
Long adored as one of the darlings of the superfood red carpet, kale may be losing its celebrity status. After all, the health benefits of this leafy green have been well-touted by this point. For many health conscious diners, it may even seem borderline passé for us to mention it.
But while it may not be the most inspiring choice, kale really is one of the jewels of the autumn harvest. Kale is chock-full of anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting antioxidants; vitamins A, C, and K; and plenty of fiber and magnesium, to help aid digestion.
As for making it delicious? One trick may be to treat your kale with lemon or lime juice before you eat it. As you let this juice settle, it breaks down some of the toughness of the leafy green, making for an easier, more delicious bite.
What’s in Your Autumn Cornucopia?
And now, the Enrollment Specialists would like to hear from you. How are you filling up your baskets, pantries, and cupboards this season? What foods do you stock up on to stay healthy and fit for the season of hayrides, harvests, and Halloween? Let us know over on Facebook, where we love to keep the health and wellness discussion going, all year long.
And don’t forget, when it comes to any questions about your health or life insurance options, we won’t leave you in the weeds. While we love to talk about health and nutrition, our passion is serving up the perfect custom health and life insurance plans for our clients.
Led by our owner and principal consultant, health and life insurance superhero Matt Peebles, the Enrollment Specialists believe there is a perfect plan for everyone—and we’d like to help you find yours. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line today to get the conversation started.