Summer’s bounty may be over, but the harvest season has its own healthy and delicious fall produce. This is the perfect time to focus on eating healthy by incorporating fresh fall foods into your meal plan.
Apples are the perfect grab-and-go snack and are in season now. They are packed with nutrition and are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Apple consumption has also been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, likely due to the antioxidants in apples. Add some sliced apples to a salad or to your morning oatmeal for some extra flavor. Pair with cheese or peanut butter for an easy afternoon snack. Stewed apples are also a great addition to chicken or pork. Be sure to look for fresh apples at the farmer’s market or visit an apple orchard for a fun family outing.
Butternut squash is a type of winter squash that is grown in the summer and harvested in the fall. It is chock full of nutrients, such as vitamin A, potassium and fiber. A diet high in vegetables like butternut squash has been associated with lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of developing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Butternut squash is easy to prepare, and its sweet, nutty flavor is a great addition to rice or pasta dishes. It can also be pureed and made into a homemade soup.
Oatmeal is the perfect way to start your day on a cold fall morning. Oats are heart-healthy and are loaded with soluble fiber, which helps to keep you full until lunchtime. Oats help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, oats can help you to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To add additional nutrients, top your oatmeal with dried fruit or nuts.
Several varieties of nuts are harvested in the fall, including almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Nuts are a fantastic source of healthy unsaturated fats, which have been shown to help to lower LDL cholesterol. Nuts are a convenient snack food and are packed with protein and fiber. They are high in calories, however, so stick to a 1.5 ounce portion size, which is equivalent to a small handful or nuts or two tablespoons of nut spread. Keep in mind that you could cancel out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they are covered in chocolate, sugar, or salt. Add some sliced almonds and fresh fruit to yogurt, top your salad with pecans, or sprinkle chopped walnuts into your breakfast cereal.
Your family will love incorporating delicious, healthy fall foods into their meals. Try the homemade butternut squash soup below to warm up on a cool autumn evening.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:
Yield: 2/3 cup
4 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large shallots, peeled and halved
1 (1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons (1-inch) slices fresh chives
Cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a roasting pan or jelly-roll pan; toss well. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool 10 minutes.
3. Place half of squash mixture and half of broth in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture and broth. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with chives and pepper, if desired.
Recipe Source: Cooking Light