Now that the leaves are falling and the weather is brisk and chilly, you may notice your friends and family coming down with colds and stomach viruses. How can you protect yourself against these seasonal illnesses? Your immunity can be boosted by eating a proper diet of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
In the fall, your local farm stand provides a great variety of these nutrient-dense foods.
Here are five of our favorite fall foods:
Swiss chard’s wavy dark green leaves are best used in cooked and sautéed dishes. The stems come in a variety of colors from pale green to vibrant shades of magenta and yellow. The stems take longer to cook than the leaves, so adding the chopped stems first to your pan then adding the leaves ensures every part of the Swiss chard is cooked, but not overcooked. Try adding Swiss chard to your favorite vegetable soup or rice dish.
Swiss chard contains extensive phytonutrients to provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatories for your body. It also is an excellent source of Vitamin C to keep your body strong against any lingering virus in your home or office. It also has a recommended source of Vitamin K, omega-3 fats, and Vitamin A in addition to containing many minerals including iron and potassium.
Thinking beyond the pie, pumpkin can be enjoyed in savory dishes and pairs well with sausage and earthy herbs like sage. It can also take the heat of hot peppers or chili powder. When you cut open the flesh of the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds to roast for a crunchy snack which is a great source of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.
A 3.5 ounce serving of pumpkin contains over 100% of a person’s daily need for Vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed for maintaining good vision and to help prevent lung and mouth cancers.
This delightfully tart red berry becomes ripe in October which is why they are not available in fresh form year round. But you can still enjoy cranberries all year if you freeze the berries. Spread the berries into a single layer on a baking pan, freeze for 1-2 hours until solid, then slide into a freezer bag.
Cranberries are great for cleaning out your system. The juice is well known for clearing up urinary tract infections since it prevents bacteria from sticking to the bladder and urethra. A four ounce serving of fresh berries has 20% of your fiber for the day which keeps your bowels cleaned out as well.
This vegetable which resembles a miniature cabbage is indeed in the same family as cabbage, the crucifers family. The best way to prepare Brussel sprouts to preserve their flavor and nutrients is lightly steamed and salted and drizzled with olive oil or Balsamic vinegar. Delicious!
They may be small, but they are mighty when it comes to nutrients! One serving contains 195% of your daily Vitamin K which will boost the strength of your bones. That same serving also contains 125% of your Vitamin C for the day.
Although grapes may be in the grocery store all year long, the fall is when they are locally ripe and ready for harvest. They are so easy to pack for lunches and are a favorite of both adults and children with their pleasantly snappy and sweet bite.
Grapes offer your body tremendous levels of protection through their phytonutrients that protect against colon and prostate cancers, coronary heart disease, and degenerative nerve disease. Red grapes contain anthocyanins, a kind of antioxidant polyphenolic, which perform anti-allergic and antimicrobial functions while white grapes contain oligopeptides with antibacterial properties.
As you peruse your local farmer’s market this month, take in the local deep colors of fall with the greens, oranges, purples, and reds. Your body will thank you in return with good health and function all season long.