10 Healthy Fall Foods
Sara Suchy | Oct 5th 2012
It’s hard to say goodbye to the fresh flavors of summer, but autumn ushers in a wealth of healthy and flavorful seasonal foods as well. Check out our favorite fall fruits and vegetables.
One look at the seasonal specials in coffee shops between September and November and you’ll see how much pumpkin is synonymous with autumn. Pumpkin also is packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and folate, making it a great source of nutrition as the weather becomes chilly. You can buy pumpkin canned or be really adventurous and roast it yourself.
Squash come in all shapes, sizes and varieties (Pumpkin is a squash, by the way.) and, depending on the type, can be an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Choose a squash that feels heavy for its size. The skin should be thick and hard without blemishes. Squash is amazing alone or added to salads, soups or pilafs. Try making Melted Golden Squash or Butternut Squash Soup.
They are not much to look at, but rutabagas are excellent sources of vitamins A and C and a great addition to hearty fall and winter stews. Look for a rutabaga with smooth, thick skin that is yellow to tan in color. It should feel heavy for its size. Rutabagas are easily stored in a cool, dry place for up to a month. To cook, rinse and peel the skin with a paring knife, then cut into cubes and boil or roast.
Ah, the sweet potato! These sweet autumn gems are wonderful sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, fiber, copper and potassium. And they can be used in a number of delicious ways, both in sweet and savory dishes. Look for sweet potatoes that are firm, with tapered ends. Avoid potatoes with blemishes or any signs of decay. To get really adventurous, try Sweet Potato Soufflé.
Beets are an underrated root vegetable. They are actually very versatile in sweet or savory dishes and an excellent source of folate, plus a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Small to medium-sized beets with smooth roots taste the best. Prepare them by scrubbing off excess dirt, but do not peel. Raw or roasted beets can be added to any number of dishes and beets can take the spotlight in vegetarian entrees.
Apple-picking is not only a classic fall activity, but the fruits of your labor are packed with nutrients. Excellent by themselves or in sweet or savory dishes, apples are a great source of fiber and vitamin C. There are several types of apples. For example, Gala apples are good for making applesauce, Jonathan apples are good for baking and cooking, and Honey Crisps are delicious just by themselves.
A splash of citrus during an otherwise heavy-flavored season is a welcome relief in many autumn dishes. And these great mini-oranges are easy to have on the go or as excellent additions to meals. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber and folate. Look for clementines that are heavy for their size.
Cranberries are a great source of vitamin C and fiber, but we don’t suggest eating them raw unless you’re prepared for a mouthful of sour. Look for cranberries that are shiny and not shriveled. They should have a brown or deep red color and will bounce if dropped on a hard surface. Try your hand with cranberries in Cranberry Nut Muffins or Wild Rice with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts.
Like most of the fruit on this list, pears are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Pear varietals will vary slightly in color, but all pears should give a little when you squeeze them. Store at room temperature so they can ripen. Once they’re ripe, put them in the refrigerator where they will keep for a few more days. Pears are great accompaniments to salads and are very good roasted or poached.
Pomegranate juice has enjoyed a rise in popularity the last several years, but pomegranate seeds are also an excellent fall fruit to get to know. They are a wonderful source of vitamin C and iron. Select a pomegranate that is heavy for its size and very plump. The top should be slightly soft when pressed and the skin should shine. Only the seeds and juice of the pomegranate are edible.