I’m a big foodie and especially love this time of year as fall brings about a ton of healthful, delicious food favorites.

When I think fall, I think pumpkin! Of course ’tis the season for pumpkin picking, but not a requirement since a quick trip to the supermarket can get you everything you need!  Roasted pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg is delicious. Pumpkin can be swapped for butternut squash and sweet potato in most recipes.

I also love canned pumpkin. Although available year-round, it great to highlight it in everyday fall recipes. You can’t beat its health benefits and versatility and it has such a nice flavor without over-powering other foods. It’s off the charts for vitamin A and it also has fiber, iron and is naturally low in sugar. My favorite way to use pumpkin is in smoothies, but it’s also really great to use in baked goods, soups and as a yogurt or oatmeal topper.

Pumpkin seeds are great snack. Besides tasting great, 1/4 cup of these seeds provides a significant amount of protein, iron and magnesium. I always incorporate them into homemade energy bites, but they’re also great to throw on oatmeal, yogurt or to put in snack-size bags for a portable nutritious snack on-the-go.

Sweet potatoes are another fall-favorite go-to! The sweet taste is always pleasing and it too, is packed with nutrients, like vitamin A, fiber, potassium and the antioxidant beta-carotene. Guess what? It also has calcium too and skies the limit with its uses! Try making baked sweet potato fries, roasting for use in salads or, my favorite way, use in chili! Whether it’s added to vegetarian or meat chili, it takes this fall favorite dish to a new heights with both taste and texture.

Fall is also the start of Brussels sprouts season! This delicious vegetable contains fiber, folate, tons of vitamin C and has the versatility of being used in either savory or sweet recipes. An added benefit is its categorization as a cruciferous vegetable, so it may have anticancer properties. It’s perfect roasted with a drop of extra virgin olive oil and just pinch of salt and pepper. Here’s a tip – I blanch for 3 minutes before roasting to soften just enough for the Brussels Sprouts to not be too tough to chew.

Once the fall weather starts to get crisp and the lighting shifts to a nice fall glow, one of the best go-to drink treats is hot spiced apple cider! The aroma it imparts is just delightful. Use pasteurized apple cider and mull with some fall spice favorites like cinnamon sticks, ginger, cardamon, star anise, allspice, cloves and orange rind. If using the whole spice, you can either strain out to drink or leave in for aesthetic appeal and just avoid swallowing when sipping! Spices are a great way to enhance food and beverages flavor and it’s also an excellent source of antioxidants – yup, a win-win here!

Fall is a fabulous time to incorporate these delicious and nutritious foods and ideas for everyday meals and treats. They impart enormous health benefits and offer plenty of options whether you want to go sweet or savory. Oh, I have one more hack for you, sometimes I’ll but foods already cut up  (like sweet potato and Brussels sprouts) for quick, easy use when in a time crunch!

What are some of your Fall favorite foods?

Wendy Kaplan, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in oncology and weight management in Long Island and in the New York City area. Wendy is the Nutrition Program Director for Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Foundation, a 501c3. Connect with Wendy on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter and read more of her blog posts and download recipes at Food4HealthRD.com

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