Five Fall Foods That Will Boost Your Health (And Meal Ideas, Too)

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[social_buttons] When the summer heat breaks and the first cool days arrive, I feel melancholy, because it means the end of our local farmers market is nigh and the variety of summer produce will soon be gone.  While I savor the rest of our ripening tomatoes, my thoughts turn to fall’s produce, with its rich red and orange hues, mirroring the turning leaves.  Fall produce reminds me of rich, hearty dishes that fill you up during the harvest season.  Here are five fall fruits and vegetables (and meal ideas) that are great sources of nutrition and the basis of many delicious dishes.

1. Butternut Squash

It’s a good source of fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin C, and potassium, and  it’s incredibly filling.  Butternut squash is versatile: it can be baked or roasted as a simple side dish, or used in hearty stews,  but it’s sweet flavor makes it a natural choice for filled pastas.  One of my favorite neighborhood restaurants has a butternut squash agnolotti with brown butter and sage that is tear-inducingly good, and I can’t wait until it’s on the menu.

Meal idea: try Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.

2. Pomegranates

I love eating these just as they are–little pearls (called arils) of deep-red juiciness.  They’re great for your health, too (as most brightly-colored fruits and veggies are) and are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and anti-oxidants.  A great treat in a smoothie or juice drink, or can be used as a topping for dessert. 

Meal idea: Try Cheryl Tallman’s Jewels in the Snow.

3. Sweet potatoes

These babies are a nutritional powerhouse, providing enormous amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, fiber, potassium, and manganese.  You can mash them like regular potatoes, or make awesomely salty-sweet potato fries.

Meal idea: try Green Diva’s Sweet Potato Hash or Shepherd’s Pie.

4. Swiss chard

This leafy green has over-the-top amounts of Vitamin K, and is a great source of Vitamin A, fiber, folic acid, iron, and potassium.  I use it as I would cooked spinach–in soups, pastas, as a cooked green sauteed with garlic.  Don’t eat it raw, though.  It’s not very tasty that way. 

Meal idea: Lovin’ Fresh’s Sauteed Greens Over Spelt.

5. Pumpkin

This fall icon is more than just a centerpiece or the basis for a pie.  It is a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, fiber, riboflavin, potassium, and copper.  You can find them locally grown almost everywhere–look for small “sugar pumpkins”.  There’s also a bonus that comes with pumpkins–their seeds, which can be roasted and eaten.  These seeds, called pepitas, are a good source of protein, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. 

Meal idea:  Try Lisa Kivrist’s Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

Readers: What are you looking forward to eating this fall?

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