Healthy Fall Harvest Foods

Healthy Fall Harvest Foods

We live in a plentiful time and place where can purchase virtually any fruit or vegetable at any time of year because they are shipped in from all over the world. However, it is this abundance that has led to a grand disconnection from our food.

Local and seasonal eating helps regulate our internal rhythm, connects us to both nature and our community as well as nourishes us on many levels. An apple that has traveled thousands of miles to reach you will not be nearly as nutrient-rich or tasty as an apple grown within a few hundred miles of where you live. Plus, doesn’t waiting for these foods to come into season, make them that much more enticing?

Fall is my favorite time of year. The leaves change, the air gets crisp and brand new produce abounds, giving us the opportunity to connect deeper with life and nature, weaving ourselves in as part of the grand design.

Fall foods are not only delicious but also incredibly calming and grounding. Our bodies need different nutrients at different times of the year, which is why seasonal eating is such a useful tool to provide a graceful transition into winter. Head out to your local farmer’s market in search of these foods below, so you can heat up the kitchen on cool nights in a delicious, nutrient-dense way.

Acorn squash and butternut squash: Unlike summer squash, winter squash has a fine texture and a sweeter flavor. They are sturdier and can be stored for months. They contain omega-3 fatty acids and are an excellent source of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant and one we need more of as natural daylight diminishes. They are high in fiber and help to balance blood glucose levels. Any winter squash tastes good sprinkled with salt, pepper, grape seed oil and a dash of cinnamon.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes

Parsnips: This fall veggie resembles a carrot but is white in color. It has a bit of a nutty flavor and is a great substitute for white potatoes. Roast them in the oven, boil them to make “mock mashed potatoes” or puree them into soups. They are rich in potassium and a great source of fiber.

Pomegranates: This superfood of fall is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Potassium keeps your heart healthy and can help lower blood pressure. Try pomegranate juice if you can't find fresh ones. Add the seeds to any fall salad.

Pumpkin: Perhaps the signature vegetable of the fall season, pumpkins can be used for much more than jack-o-lanterns. Packing more than 20% of your daily recommendation for fiber and a great source of b vitamins, add fresh or unsweetened canned pumpkin to soups, pies, cakes, waffles or pudding.

Sweet potatoes and yams: More nutritionally dense than their white potato counterparts, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods. They are high in the antioxidant beta-carotene and help the body to secrete pancreatic enzymes, not to mention great anti-inflammatory benefits. Slice them thin and roast them in the oven with fresh rosemary and sage.

Brussel sprouts: A great food to increase flexibility because of the sulfur compounds they contain. Brussel sprouts get a bad wrap, but made properly, they taste wonderful – mild and slightly bitter, they are good roasted with garlic and olive oil or great to combine as part of a fall salad with nuts and balsamic vinegar. Good source of iron, vitamin K and folate, which eases menstrual cramps, helps boost mood and prevents birth defects.

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