Nutrition News to Help You Be Well and Live Well
Ah, October–the scent of falling leaves and pumpkin spice in the air! Pumpkins and pumpkin-spice-everything may be the darlings of the season, but there is so much more autumn produce to enjoy! Other types of winter squash such as butternut and acorn, are much easier to cook fresh at home than pumpkin. Besides squash, other types of produce to enjoy in the fall include sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, arugula, apples, pears, grapes, pomegranates, and cranberries. This month, we will explore the nutrition benefits of a few of these options and ways to prepare and enjoy them. Happy Fall!
In good health,
Sally Stegemann MS, RD, LD
Fall for Autumn Produce
By Sally Stegemann, MS, RD, LD
Cooler temperatures in fall can make us long for warm hearty meals, and so we trade salads, grilled chicken and watermelon for chili, stews and pumpkin flavored everything. But don’t forget the fresh produce! Fresh fruits and vegetables abound during the summer, but there are heartier vegetables and fruits that are ready to move onto the scene as colder temperatures arrive. Pumpkins tend to dominate the season, but don’t miss out on some of the other stars of autumn listed below:
Winter squash: Butternut and acorn squash are readily available this time of year at grocery stores and farmer’s markets. These starchy squash are rich in beta carotene and other carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin (which can help protect the eyes from macular degeneration). They are also a great source of fiber and potassium. Butternut squash is delicious roasted, in soups, and mashed or pureed. Acorn squash can be fixed the same ways, or can easily be cooked whole in the microwave such as in this simple recipe. With apples, butter and cinnamon, it is almost like a dessert!
Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes (sometimes also called yams, but they are actually two different vegetables) have a nutrition profile similar to winter squash. They are an excellent source of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential to a healthy immune system (it aids in the production of white blood cells) and is also needed for healthy skin and endothelial tissue, which lines your blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. Sweet potatoes are delicious simply baked, or cut up and cooked in soups and stews. Check out the recipe at the end of the newsletter for a super sweet potato chili to try.
Brussels sprouts: These mini cabbages are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and a good source of folate and vitamin B6. They are also rich in antioxidants and fiber. Like other cruciferous vegetables, brussels sprouts have been shown in clinical studies to help manage blood sugar levels and to potentially help prevent diabetes. Enjoy them roasted, sauteed or steamed. Try these delicious roasted brussels sprouts with garlic.
Apples: It is said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. And indeed, there may be some truth to this statement! Apples are rich in a plant chemical known as quercetin, which has been shown to offer numerous health benefits. Quercetin is found mainly in the skin or just beneath the skin of the apple, so eat apples with the peel on. The flesh of the apple is a rich source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber which benefits digestive health and also serves as a type of “food” for the good bacteria in the intestine which is important for overall health. We are learning more and more about the importance of the microbiome (the “flora and fauna”) within our intestinal tracts. The downside to apples is the amount of pesticide residues tends to be higher than on some other fruits. If you are concerned about pesticides, you can try buying organic, or try this method: place a teaspoon of baking soda in 2 cups of water and soak apples in the solution for 10-15 minutes. Then rinse and dry the apples thoroughly before storing in the refrigerator. For more information on apples visit Here.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
1 Tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups water
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons lime juice
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
● Step 1
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
● Step 2
Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
● Optional topping ideas: sour cream, diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips. If you prefer meat in your chili, try adding ½ pound of lean ground beef or turkey. Simply cook the ground meat before adding in the vegetables to saute in Step 1. Recipe source: Eating Well