I encourage my patients to both get their vitamins and minerals from nutrient dense whole foods as well as supplements as necessary insurance that you’re getting enough vital nutrition every day. That’s why making use of the unique fruits and vegetables of Fall is so beneficial to your health.
Let’s look at some of the wonderfully rich fruits and vegetables of Fall which can brighten your spirits with their beautiful color as they boost your health! Here I’ve grouped them by the vitamins and minerals they supply:
Vitamin A: The yellow/orange family of Fall vegetables are loaded with Vitamin A that helps boost your immune system as well as protect your eyesight and keep your skin healthy. These include sweet potatoes, acorn, winter, and butternut squashes, pumpkin, ginger, turnips. These vegetables are very filling, comfort foods that are high in potassium and fiber. They’re also low on the glycemic index which means they won’t spike blood sugars.
Vitamin C: The deep, jewel reds, golds and purples of vegetables and fruits like pomegranate, radishes, beets, eggplant, cranberries, apples, pears are loaded with Vitamin C which also boost your immune system and help fight off viruses, bacteria and molds from falling leaves which are prevalent in damp fall weather.
Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Fiber: The earthy brown-green families of vegetables like mushrooms, kale, spinach, figs, cabbages, potatoes, broccoli, provide the nutrients listed here as well as good amounts of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. One baked potato with skin topped with some sautéed mushrooms provides over 40% of your daily requirement of fiber and potassium!
A Few Favorite Delicious and Healthy Fall Produce Recipes
Now for the tasty part. I enjoy trying new recipes to get the most health benefit out of seasonal fruits and vegetables. I’d like to share a few of those with you here using some of the fruits and vegetables I’ve mentioned above. These are fancy enough to be part of your Thanksgiving holiday feast and/or simple enough to be part of your every day eating enjoyment!
Fall Roast of Vegetables
What You Need: Whole beets, red peppers, mushrooms, squash, carrots, russet potatoes, white onions, several garlic cloves, kale, salt, pepper, olive oil.
Instructions: Heat oven to 400F. Fill a 4” roasting pan with 1” of water. Make a few slices in the beets, onions, and garlic. You can leave carrots, mushrooms, red peppers whole or slice into strips. Let vegetables cook until you can put a fork through the beets, potatoes and squash. Remove the outer skin from the squash, cut and arrange into sections. Spray the vegetables with olive oil cooking spray, or drizzle olive oil from a bottle onto them making sure they’re all covered. Lightly dust with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables back in the oven and turn the heat down to 350. Let the vegetables roast until golden brown. Add the kale when the other vegetables are cooked. Let it soften and remove it from the pan. Trim a serving platter with it and cover. Now cut the red peppers, mushrooms, carrots, into strips. Arrange the roasted vegetables on the platter. Serve hot with olive oil butter or olive oil. Makes a great accompaniment to pork or chicken. Delicious, full of antioxidants Vitamins C, A, E and fiber!
Healthy Apple Crisp
No one can resist apple pie during fall holidays, but this version is a healthier twist. Not quite pie, as there are no fluted pie crusts, but with the unmistakable classic taste of apple pie. In addition, you get the healthy blood sugar balancing benefit from cinnamon!
What You Need: 1/4 cup instant plain or cinnamon flavored oatmeal, 1 cup cinnamon roasted almonds, 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil butter or real butter (no transfat containing margarine please!). 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg or apple pie spice. 4-5 large Granny Smith (green) apples. No sugar added vanilla ice cream or no sugar added frozen dairy whip.
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. First, chop the cinnamon roasted almonds in your blender to a medium crumbly texture, but not powder! Then combine almonds, oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg/apple pie spice, butter. Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray. Next, peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices. Spread the apples out in the pan. Spread the crumb mixture evenly over the apples. For thicker crumb crust, make another batch of the crumbs and spread a 2nd layer over the apples. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until the apples are cooked and the crumb layer is golden brown. Serve with either the frozen dairy whip or the no sugar added vanilla ice cream. A delicious, quick dessert that’s full of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, folic acid and magnesium.
Baked Royal Eggplant
I grew up on eggplant, so I love it. It’s full of potassium and fiber and is a real comfort food in the darker, rainy days of fall. If you’ve just passed eggplant by in the produce department and have wondered what it tastes like, here’s your chance to try something new. See if you don’t love it as well.
What You Need: 1-2 large eggplants (depending on how many servings you want). Salt. 2 beaten eggs (you can substitute 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk if you can’t or don’t want to eat eggs), 1-1-1/2 c corn meal, 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Instructions: Wash the eggplant thoroughly and cut off the stem and cork at each side. Slice into even pieces. Place in a covered frying pan, add several tablespoons of water and steam a few minutes until softened but not mushy. Meanwhile, beat the 2 eggs in a shallow glass baking dish, or use the almond milk in its place. Remove the eggplant from the stove and put the pieces into the egg or almond liquid. Spread the corn meal out onto a flat surface and lay the eggplant pieces on it. Coat each piece of eggplant with the corn meal. Place all the coated eggplant in a 9 x 12 baking pan that you’ve coated the bottom with olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt on top. Bake at 350 until golden brown and slightly crispy, turn once and let underside get slightly crispy. I like to eat mine with sliced tomatoes for extra Vitamin C.
Looking for a unique dessert for Thanksgiving or a weekend football tailgate party ? Try some baked pears spiced up with antioxidant rich pomegranate juice! Full of fiber, no added sugar, Vitamin C and potassium!
What You Need: 4 baking pears, 1 cup pomegranate juice, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 cinnamon stick or 1/4tsp of powdered cinnamon, 4 whole cloves. Several packets of stevia if you desire more sweetness.
Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel pears, remove core, and cut lengthwise.
Arrange pears in ceramic baking dish. In a glass or plastic bowl, combine pomegranate juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, and cloves. Pour the mixture over the pears. Bake for 45 minutes, basting frequently. You should be able to put a fork through pears but they shouldn’t be so mushy they collapse. Remove pears and let cool for a few moments. If desired sweetness, mix a few packets of very-sweet stevia and cinnamon together in a bowl and spoon sprinkle or fingertip pinch/sprinkle over the pears as they cool. Add no sugar vanilla ice cream if you like.
Well, there you have a few simple healthy recipes that make use of the wonderful array of vitamins and minerals of Fall vegetables and fruits. Make it a point to spice up your Fall days by trying at least one new, uniquely Fall vegetable and/or fruit. They’ll add some color to your usual humdrum fare and a whole lot of health benefits as well!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.