According to current dietary guidelines for Americans, 80–90 percent of people in the U.S. aren’t meeting their daily recommended fruits and veggies intake. This translates to missed opportunities for key nutrients, like fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium, magnesium, and more.
Here are 10 of my favorite fall foods to add to your shopping list, some ideas for how to use them, and even some tips to make your prepping a bit easier.
10 nutrient-rich fall produce picks to enjoy in season
Kiwi fruit boasts a punch of nutrition, offering over 75 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Kiwis are also high in fiber and vitamin K. Did you know you can eat the skin of a kiwi? The skin provides additional folate, fiber, and antioxidants. While most people tend to think of the traditional green kiwi, there are many varieties and colors available. Kiwi can be a wonderful meat tenderizer and also makes a great addition to smoothies, fruit salads, oatmeal, and even homemade fruit popsicles.
Pears are one of the highest-fiber fruits, offering 5.5 grams of fiber per medium pear, which translates to about 20–25 percent of the daily recommendation, which many Americans are not meeting. Pears are also a source of vitamin K, vitamin C, copper, and folate, as well as several antioxidants. Pears can be a great addition to your morning bowl of oatmeal or yogurt, or make for a sweet or tart addition to baked goods or salads.
There’s nothing like a juicy pomegranate in the fall months, but it can be messy to separate the sweet and tart arils from the rind and white pith of the fruit. To save yourself from de-seeding a pomegranate (but still get the nutrition benefit!), you can purchase just the arils to add to salads, grain bowls, stir-fries, yogurt, oatmeal, and more. POM Wonderful Pomegranate Arils are a good source of fiber, providing 4 grams of fiber per half cup, as well as polyphenol antioxidants, organic compounds primarily found in plants linked to a slew of health benefits. Additionally, pomegranate juice can be a great mixer in fall drinks and a great way to add nutrition and flavor as a dressing, sauce, or syrup. There are 700 mg of polyphenol antioxidants in every 8 ounces of POM Wonderful 100-percent pomegranate juice to help fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to our bodies over time.
Whether you prefer tart, sweet, or in-between, crunchy apples are a staple for fall. These fruits are a great, portable snack option for kids and adults alike, and are an excellent pairing for nuts, seeds, and cheese. Add them to a salad for some crunch, or enjoy them baked in pies, oatmeal, tarts, or crumbles. Apples are high in vitamin C and contain several polyphenols and antioxidants.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes (not to be confused with yams) are notorious for their addition to fall favorites, like sweet potato pie and casserole. Not only do they add a spark of color to a dish, but they are full of vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Add some sweet potato mash to your meatballs, pancakes, or oatmeal, or incorporate diced sweet potatoes into burritos, grain bowls, or any sheet pan meal. To cook your sweet potatoes quicker, pop them in the microwave for 6–8 minutes, rather than baking them.
6. Brussels sprouts
A regular star on the Thanksgiving table, Brussels sprouts pack a punch of nutrition. A ½ cup serving provides over 50 percent of the daily recommendations for vitamins C and K, which help with immunity and heart health, respectively. These cruciferous vegetables have phytochemicals that may help with immune function and reduce inflammation. While they are delicious roasted, Brussels sprouts can also be shaved and added to salads, pizzas, and pasta dishes.
From acorn to zucchini, there are myriad squash types available, each with a distinct flavor profile and different uses. In terms of nutrient-rich fall produce options, substitute your typical bowl of spaghetti with spaghetti squash, or even mix the two. Roasted, caramelized butternut squash is delicious on its own, pureed into a soup, or added as a nutrient-dense topping on salads, oatmeal, savory yogurt bowls, and more.
These earthly vegetables actually have a sweet undertone, and provide several antioxidants and micronutrients like folate, manganese, potassium, and copper. Beets have been associated with heart health, thanks to their dietary nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide regulates several vascular responses, such as blood pressure. The increased uptake of oxygen also makes them a great food for athletes. Add this root vegetable to hummus, smoothies, sandwiches, or salads.
Afraid of the staining that comes with chopping and baking raw red beets? Opt for convenient options for ready-to-eat beets, such as Love Beets Perfectly Pickled Beets, which can be used any way you would use whole beets. Plus, they have 30 percent less sugar and 65 percent less sodium than other canned varieties.
Perhaps the star of fall, pumpkins (which are in the squash family) aren’t just for picking and decorating. Canned pumpkin is a great addition to baked goods, oatmeal, soup, chili and pasta. The interior pumpkin seeds can also be roasted and added to salads and grain bowls for starters. In terms of its nutrition profile, pumpkin is high in fiber, vitamins A and C, copper, and iron, while pumpkin seeds are high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and healthy fats.
Cranberries have an array of plant compounds and antioxidants, as well as fiber, manganese, vitamin E, and vitamin C. They are the richest fruit sources of proanthocyanidins, which are believed to offer a protection against microbial pathogens. Aside from making cranberry sauce, try throwing fresh or frozen cranberries into baked oatmeals, smoothies, salads, and yogurt parfaits.
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