With fall just around the corner, it’s also time to think of the variety of fall vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and kale. Take advantage of these delicious veggies to reap amazing health benefits and delicious flavors.
What makes vegetables so special? Besides their great taste, they have so many great health benefits. Vegetables add a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your diet. Studies have shown that a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing heart disease as well as some cancers.
The Vegetable Group is one of the major food groups and provides countless benefits to your body. Health professionals recommend adults take in between two and three cups per day depending on their age and activity level. Typically, a cup of vegetables is equal to one cup of cooked vegetables or juice or two cups of raw leafy greens. Another easy way to balance your plate is by using the Choose My Plate method from the USDA. They recommend you fill half your plate every meal with fruits and vegetables, which is easy to remember!
What’s in Season This Fall?
With the thousands of vegetables out there, different types grow each season. Even though fall vegetables can be available all year long, when you buy them in season, you are getting them at peak nutritional value and taste.
- Pumpkin: Pumpkin is the most popular of fall vegetables. It harvests in the fall and has tons of Vitamin A. Instead of pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake, think about trying pumpkin chili or roasted pumpkin.
- Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are available year-round but are seasonal in the fall. They are packed with Vitamins A and B.
- Kale: This cruciferous and dark green vegetable grows best in cooler weather which makes it sweeter. Kale is full of Vitamins A, C and K.
- Winter Squash: Acorn squash, spaghetti squash and butternut squash all fall into this category. They are high in Vitamins A and C and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Slice and bake butternut squash as an alternative to French fries. Try spaghetti squash instead of traditional pasta and bake acorn squash for a delicious and robust taste.
- Broccoli: Even though you can purchase this year-round, broccoli tastes sweeter and less bitter when purchased in season. Broccoli is a Vitamin C Powerhouse! It’s also rich in Vitamins K, A, and the phytonutrient indole. You can eat it raw and pair it with a protein-rich dip or cook with it.
- Carrots: Carrots can be harvested year-round, but they are best in the late summer and early fall. These veggies are full of Vitamin A.
- Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are high in fiber and peak in the fall. Steam or sauté them for a delicious side dish.
- Cabbage: Even though you see this year-round in the store, it peaks in the fall as well. Cabbage can sweeten as you cook it.
- Cauliflower: This veggie is a member of the cabbage family. It can be used as a potato substitute if you want less carbs. Mash it, boil it, or use it as the main ingredient in a low-carb pizza crust.
- Onion: You find onions all year, but they are in peak season during the fall and winter. Onions can be used to flavor almost anything. They are rich in chromium and provide anti-inflammatory agents.
- Spinach: This dark green leafy veggie is full of folate, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and iron. You can use fresh spinach in salads or cook with it, especially in stews and skillet dishes.
- Zucchini: This fall vegetable is full of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and lutein. Sautee zucchini, spiralize it, or put it in homemade bread!
This fall, try to cook more vegetables in season and reap their amazing benefits! From the supermarket to the farmer’s market, don’t be afraid to get adventurous, eat outside your comfort zone and try new vegetables and recipes.