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The Best of Fall Produce

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Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s a time of transition with the kids returning to school, the temperature starting to cool, and the leaves turning beautiful shades of red and orange. It’s also the time when our eating habits change. Gone is the desire for fresh summer salads and iced beverages, and our palettes turn to warmer, more savory foods. Fall produce is perfect for those kinds of dishes and roasting vegetables on a sheet pan is my favorite way to prepare them. Here are some of my favorites to inspire you to eat seasonally.

This is the one vegetable that I am never without because they are one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Did you know one medium carrot has more potassium than a medium banana? They are also an excellent source of vitamin A. Additionally, carrots produce a natural pesticide, falcarinol, that helps vegetables ward off fungal diseases while growing. In addition, studies suggest that when eaten, falcarinol can protect against cancer. Carrots are delicious raw when paired with a dip or in a salad to add crunch. They can be roasted, steamed, grated for a slaw or added to soups and stews.

This root vegetable has a sweet, nutty taste and looks like a whitened carrot. Parsnips are a good source of vitamin A, potassium and high in fiber. They are delicious roasted or sautéed, or you can chop them and add them to soups or stews. Additionally, you can make a parsnip mash. First, boil or steam parsnips until tender, then mash with a little milk and butter for a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes.

Winter Squash
The different varieties of winter squash such as butternut, acorn, delicata, Hubbard, spaghetti and pumpkin have similar characteristics: they all have a hard-outer and fully formed seeds. All squash tends to be high in fiber, manganese, copper and vitamin A, C, and B6. Winter squash are a good source of folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium. It’s delicious when roasted, tossed in a salad, mashed, stirred into pasta, or puréed into soups and stews. Squash can also be used in pie fillings or sweet breads or served as a side dish. Additionally, the seeds of pumpkin are edible when roasted.

These beautiful root veggies are an excellent source of iron, vitamin B and C, beta-carotene, folic acid, and fiber. Both the root and the leaves are edible, and larger beets should be peeled before eating. If you cook them whole, peel after they are cooked (under cold water) and the skins will slip right off. Beets can be steamed with butter, sliced on top of salads, or try sautéing grated beets in a little olive oil with a dash of lemon juice and dill, until tender but still crunchy.

Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, cabbage, bok choy, kale, arugula, brussels sprouts, and collard greens among others. These vegetables are low-calorie and provide a good source of fiber, vitamins C, E and K, and contain carotenoids beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin as well as folate. Roasting cruciferous vegetables in the oven at 400 degrees, coated lightly with olive oil, grapeseed oil or avocado oil, will bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetables and reduce their bitter flavor. Try them alone, roasted together, or in soups, stews, and casseroles.

Turnips belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, but I think they deserve a spot of their own here because they are an underappreciated vegetable. Turnips are a good source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. Plus, they are incredibly versatile. When turnips are eaten raw, sliced for dips, or grated for salads and slaw, they are crisp and have a mild, spicy flavor. When cooked, the flavor turns sweet and nutty. Turnips can be boiled or steamed and added to mashed potatoes for more nutrition. They can also be roasted alone or with potatoes and carrots to bring out their natural sweetness. In addition, turnip greens are edible and are an excellent source of phytonutrients. Toss into a salad or try a sauté with olive oil and garlic.

Sweet Potatoes
Rich in manganese, and vitamin A, C, and B6, sweet potatoes can be used interchangeably with yams and white potatoes. These tubers can be baked, sautéed, boiled and mashed, or stuffed and added to your favorite stuffing recipe. They can also be added to soups and stews or included in muffin or bread recipes after they’ve been mashed.

For more inspiration on how to add fall produce to your diet, contact our dietitians at nutrition@waverlyoaks.com.

Content submitted by Janyce Gately MS, RD, LDN, CHC