What season has the best food? They all have their benefits. I certainly love summertime for the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. If I had to pick, I’d say that fall has the best selection. For me, fall is more than a never-ending pumpkin spice joke. Even though the season is full of fattening desserts and decadent entrees, make no mistake — some of the healthiest foods around are ripe for the picking this season.
Part of promoting your health is sticking to a healthy diet. That doesn’t mean dieting, but it does mean making intentional and informed choices about what we eat.
These are some of my favorite healthy fall foods.
7 Healthy Foods You’ll Love This Fall
1) Acorn Squash
You can also include spaghetti squash here. The beauty in acorn squash particularly is that it doesn’t take much to make it delicious. Roast it with butter and seasoning — sweet or savory — and you have a good-sized serving out of one squash. You can easily feed two people on a stuffed squash or eat it as a delectable side.
But what’s so good about acorn squash? It’s full of healthy vitamins and minerals. Acorn squash carries folate, niacin, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B-6 and, most notably, vitamin C. Half a cup of cooked squash will give you 20 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C. We’re also looking at 13 percent daily recommended potassium and 11 percent daily recommended magnesium.
Acorn squash is also rich in fiber and antioxidants. The key? Bake, roast, or saute your squash. Cooking it in water will remove a lot of the essential nutrients.
2) Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts might be one of the most divisive vegetables. You either love them or hate them. I happen to love them. Not only do they taste great when properly prepared, but they are chock full of health benefits. We’re looking at high levels of vitamin C and A, folic acid and fiber. How much vitamin C? A single serving has more vitamin C power than a whole orange and only about 60 calories.
If you don’t like sprouts, it’s likely because you’ve had them overcooked. When overcooked, they take on a ghastly, rotten egg-like flavor. Roasted, sauteed, or baked and you’ll have a slightly sweet, nutty treat that is well-complemented with garlic and spices.
Who doesn’t love a grapefruit for breakfast? While we often associate citrus fruits with spring and summer, the peak season for grapefruit is actually the fall. Grapefruit makes for an excellent breakfast. Its high water content (82 percent) means that you’ll start your day well-hydrated. The grapefruit’s “pith” (the white fiber between each section of fruit) is also incredibly high in fiber. Fiber helps reduce blood sugar, cholesterol, and can help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
While the grapefruit can be a little abrasive for some with its sharp and almost bitter flavor, it has a great many health benefits.
If there a vegetable more on-trend than cauliflower right now? With the low-carb and Keto craze, cauliflower has come onto the scene in new, tasty iterations like cauliflower rice and mashed cauliflower. You can ever get cauliflower “tater tots”!
But is it only good because it’s low-carb? Hardly. We’re looking at extra vitamin C, omega-3s and potassium. We usually think that healthy vegetables are dark and colorful, but cauliflower is the exception. Though white, it is among the best vegetables for healthy, mindful eating.
While we usually throw mushrooms into the same category as vegetables, they are actually fungi. There’s a wide variety of mushrooms to choose from like white button, shitake, and portabella. You might be familiar with portabella mushrooms as burger substitutes and a healthier iteration on chicken parmesan.
While mushrooms are low-calorie, low-fat, and low-carb, you’ll find a bit of protein here. Mushrooms really shine in their micronutrient content. Copper, potassium, vitamin B3 and B5, iron, and phosphorus are all represented.
There’s no vegetable more iconic for fall than the mighty pumpkin. Sadly, most of us relegate this culinary treat to porch decoration and Jack ‘O Lanterns. Pumpkin is a squash in the same family as cucumbers and melons. Low in calories and high in vitamin K, vitamin C, beta-carotene (a great antioxidant), and fiber, pumpkin makes for a healthy fall dish.
But what’s the best way to cook and serve pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a popular addition to pancakes, muffins, and custards. You can also add a pumpkin puree to a serving of greek yogurt. The seeds of the pumpkin are also beneficial. Roast and salt them for a crunchy fall snack.
7) Sweet Potatoes
I love sweet potatoes. With more nutritional value and flavor versatility than a white potato, you can do just about anything with these root vegetables. One medium potato is going to give you over 400 percent of your daily vitamin A. You’ll also benefit from the fiber and potassium. Sweet potatoes have more natural sugar (carbs) than the average potato, but the nutritional punch hits harder and the calories are less.
It’s believed that sweet potatoes can help lower blood pressure and reduce some cancer risks. They are also low on the glycemic index, making them an ideal pick for diabetics and pre-diabetics. Studies have shown that sweet potatoes may actually lower blood sugar as well as insulin resistance.
While desserts and caloric treats abound in the fall, there is a smorgasbord of delectable and healthy produce. Incorporate these great fruits and vegetables into your diet for a taste of fall.
What’s your favorite fall food or recipe? Let me know in the comments.