This time of year, there is an abundance of fall foods to enjoy that are as healthy as they are delicious. They even fall into fall colors – reds, oranges, golds and deep greens. As temperatures drop and we start to crave heartier foods, remember that fall and winter foods can be both hearty and healthy. When looking to step up the taste and nutrition of your fall and winter meals, go for color. Brighten your plate with colorful food options as these are often the foods with the most nutrients and vitamins.
Here’s a look at a variety of colored foods to enjoy this time of year and their benefits.
Smart Options: pomegranate seeds, cranberries, tomato sauces, beets, red beans and lentils
These foods contain heart-healthy flavonoids, which are anti-oxidants and reduce inflammation, fighting heart disease and keeping artery walls healthy. They also contain vitamins A and C, which boost the immune system and promote healing and are good for eyes, skin, and hair.
Orange and Golden Foods
Smart Options: oranges, butternut squash, acorn squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, golden raisins
These foods contain vitamin C needed for good eye health, wound healing, strong bones and a stronger immune system.
Smart Options: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, green bell peppers, coleslaw and cabbage
These foods are rich in minerals, phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins, including vitamins A, B’s and C. These are important nutrients for overall health and well-being as well as disease prevention.
Spices of the season
Smart Options: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and cumin
These spices all have powerful anti-oxidant properties and fight inflammation in joints and arteries. Cinnamon also helps manage blood sugar levels. Add these enticing flavors to cooked apples, teas, beef sauces, poultry, salmon, sweet potatoes, and foods suggested below.
So get creative! Enjoy these foods and flavors in new inspiring ways. Some suggestions:
- Pomegranate seeds sprinkled on salads and yogurt
- Dried cranberries in oatmeal and salads
- Roasted or pickled beets as snacks or in salads or as sides
- Tomato sauces in stews or spaghetti or chili or soups
- Red beans with rice or in chili, lentil soup or cold lentil salad
- Butternut squash soup, mashed butternut squash or roasted butternut strips or rings
- Baked, mashed or roasted sweet potatoes – a great option for both breakfast or a snack
- Stuffed bell peppers or cabbage rolls
- Coleslaw with diced apples, cranberries and walnuts
- Cinnamon added to oatmeal, yogurt, stews, roasts, spaghetti sauce, butternut or acorn squash
- Ginger added to stir-fries, broccoli, butternut squash, cranberry sauce, apples, salmon, chicken
- Cumin added to stews, meat sauces, chili and beans
To inspire your fall and winter cooking, here are a few recipes to get you started.
Butternut Squash Soup by Georgia Kostas, MPH, RD, LD
Yields 6 servings
1 large butternut squash
½ large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, sliced
1 pear or apple, peeled and sliced (1 cup)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups (2- 15oz cans) chicken broth
½ cup orange juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ tsp cumin
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon all-spice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
2 Tablespoons sherry or white wine
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
- Scrub butternut squash. With fork, poke several “vents” for steam to escape when cooking. Place in microwave, on paper towels. Cook on High for 10 minutes. Remove. Let sit 5 minutes, wrapped in a kitchen towel. Scoop out the flesh to add to the soup pot.
- While squash is cooking: sauté onion, garlic, carrots, pear in oil in a large soup pot for about 5 minutes, till softened.
- To soup pot, add broth and juice; heat to boil. Then add scooped butternut squash, wine, seasonings.
- Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add cilantro. Blenderize to create a smooth creamy texture.
Stove-top Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Walnuts
1 lb Brussels sprouts, washed, outer leaves trimmed, cut in half
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, sliced
2 tsp sugar
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add and stir Brussels sprouts in oil 5 min; add broth a little at a time, as needed, to prevent sticking; cook till sprouts are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add remaining three ingredients, stir, and cook 5 minutes more.
For more ideas on how to feel satisfied and not overeat, as well as how to enjoya healthy diet and succeed with weight loss, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.
This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.