The warm smell and crisp flavor of apples is a sure sign that fall is just around the corner. In the Northern Hemisphere apples are in season from late summer to early winter. In addition to being eaten raw, apples are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes from salads to baked goods. Choose organic apples if possible due to the pesticide content of conventionally grown apples.
Figs can come in a variety of colors, including purple to pink or light brown, but the flesh inside is always a juicy crimson color. Unlike many fruits, figs contain protein and are also rich in calcium and iron. Choose those with firm, smooth skins. Figs are a sweet addition to salads. They can be sliced and used to top desserts, or served warm with cinnamon for a chilly evening treat. Fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and chopped almonds can be eaten daily as a healthy protein rich snack.
Dates are a great source of a variety of minerals, including, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and potassium. They also contain fiber (both soluble and insoluble), amino acids, and even a small amount of essential fat. A high fiber diet may decrease risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, gastrointestinal disorders, weight loss and gain, blood sugar regulation and improved sleep patterns. Date are a wonderful addition to salads, grains and are extremely portable as an on-the-go snack. They add a natural sweetness to baked goods as well.
The fall and winter are the perfect seasons to eats carrots, as their flavors are more robust during these times. The antioxidant compounds, called carotenoids, found in carrots help to protect against cardiovascular disease and may promote sharp vision. While we associate carrots with the color orange, carrots are found with other colors such as, white, yellow, red, or purple. When stored, carrots should stay far from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that may produce ethylene gas. When the produce comes in contact with carrots its flavor may become bitter. You can puree or dice carrots into warm soups, grate them into sauces, or juice them into marinades or beverages.
Pomegranates are known for their anti-aging qualities. The pomegranate fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins B and C, and iron. Pomegranates may also help manage cholesterol levels and supports a healthy cardiovascular and immune system. Pomegranate may even be helpful in relieving certain menopause symptoms. Pomegranates are known for their high antioxidant levels, which help protect against stroke, heart attack, cellular damage, cancer and possibly mood improvement.
The Jerusalem artichoke arrives around November, as a pile of muddy, knobby tubers. The tubers consistency is very much like a potato. Their raw form has a sweet nutty flavor. When sliced they fit perfectly into a salad or slaw. Jerusalem artichokes are high in potassium, so they are great for after workout recovery.
The fall season is the prime time for onions. Onions have become a staple in any kitchen because they add flavor to virtually every recipe you can create. Onions are a very good source of vitamin C, chromium and fiber. They also contain some manganese, molybdenum, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, phosphorus and copper. Keep the flavors of summer alive when you add grilled onions to a shish kabob, flatbread pizza, or turn them into comforting baked onion rings.
Pears are a good source of vitamin C and copper. Both of these nutrients fall into the antioxidant family. Antioxidant nutrients help protect cells from free radical damage. Although not well-documented in research, pears are often recommended by many practitioners as a hypoallergenic fruit that may be less likely to produce a negative response in sensitive individuals, so they could be a great option for those suffering from IBS.
Kale is a hot commodity these days. Kale has shown risk reduction benefits in cancer have recently been extended to include at least five different types of cancer. These types include bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. The flavonoid, kaempferol is known as the powerhouse antioxidant included in kale, followed by, quercitin. New research shows that up to 45 different flavonoids are present in kale. Bake up kale and break it into pieces to make kale chips—a great substitute for potato chips.
The rich orange color of pumpkin comes from their high carotenoids content. Carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin are excellent at neutralizing free radicals that could cause cancer and increase aging, they also may improve eye health. The seeds, are very high in protein, one ounce of seeds provides about seven grams of protein, which is equivalent to one egg. Pumpkin oil is high in phytosterols, which are plant based fatty acids that are known for playing a part in the reduction of cholesterol levels.
When shopping this fall remember to choose fresh, organic if possible, produce in the season. Always strive for the recommended 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
Butternut Squash and Cider Soup
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (about 1 pound)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
- 2/3 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil, being careful not to burn.
- Add squash, chicken stock and apple cider and cook until squash is soft enough to blend.
- Pour into blender container and blend until smooth.
- Add sour cream, salt and pepper and continue to process until well mixed.
- Divide among 4 bowls.
Makes 4 (3/4-cup) servings, each containing approximately: 85 calories; 16 grams carbohydrate;1 grams fat; Trace cholesterol; 3 mg. protein; 321 mg. sodium; 2 grams fiber
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onions
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch allspice
- 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- pinch ground black pepper
- In a large saucepan combine olive oil, onions, celery and garlic.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
- Add nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice and stir for one minute.
- Add pumpkin and water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
- Add apple juice, milk, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
- Heat through, but do not bring to a boil.
- Cool slightly, transfer mixture to a blender container and puree until smooth.
- Pour soup into a saucepan and warm over medium heat before serving.
Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings, each containing approximately: 95 calories; 14 gm. Carbohydrate; 2 gm. Fat; 3 mg. cholesterol; 2 gm. protein; 80 mg. sodium; 2 gm. fiber