There’s nothing like going to the farmer’s market on the weekend to put you in the healthy-eating frame of mind. All summer long, there are piles and piles of fresh produce grown within miles of your home, guaranteeing freshness and flavor for your plate and sustainability for the local farms. Today, on a gorgeous Indian Summer fall day, I found myself skipping a little faster down the sidewalk to get to the weekend fresh market because I know that like the summer fare, the fall harvest can be just as delicious, vibrant and filled with nutrition.
Here are four of my personal favorites that I know, once you hear about their nutritional resume, you’ll become fans too (if you aren’t already).
Savor the fruit’s smooth skin and get your flavonoid “fill”. A flavonoid found in an apple’s skin, called Quercetin, is a powerful antioxidant that is known to stave off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and breast and colon cancers. Keep in mind that red-skinned apples have more nutrient bang for their buck and remember opt for the whole apple versus the fruit because whole apples are packed with a lot more fiber and a lot fewer calories than their liquid counterparts, according to the Harvard School for Public Health. If you’re feeling adventurous, plan an apple picking excursion and really get into the act. It’s one of the easiest fruits to harvest and you can even eat them right off the tree, ripe and fresh. When picking apples, keep in mind that the color is not really how you tell when an apple is ripe. Just know that apples should be crisp and firm when they’re ready to eat. A good way to know which apples are ripe is to ask the farmer. She will know because it is calculated from the number of days since the trees flowered, and apple farmers track that date carefully, if they’re a good apple grower! To find a host of helpful apple tips, visit PickYourOwn.org.
Nothing says fall like pumpkins! Every year, I take my sons to the pumpkin patch to pick out our future Jack-o-Lantern and every year, we always get the biggest one of the bunch. Historically, I’m the one who is assigned to slimy “insides” and seed removal and quite frankly, I’m not in the mood to do it again this year. Instead, we’re going to take a different approach. I found this really cool video that will rid me of sticky, gunky fingers forever. Join me in the march to (etch our pumpkins this year. The benefits of etching is the aforementioned lack of stickiness and the pumpkins will last much longer-about 2-3 weeks! In addition to tasty roasted seeds, pumpkins serve up a full serving of Vitamin A, in the form of betacarotene-supporting your vision, immune function and skin. Like bananas, pumpkins offer a healthy dose of potassium and they also act as an anti-inflammatory. I have a really great black bean pumpkin soup in my new book, Real Moms Love to Eat, and if you’d like a free copy of it, just email me, and I’ll email it to you-in honor of healthy fall eating.
Tall and handsome, this fall-harvested green is brimming with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients-warding off a host of cancers and heart diseases and stroke. The Vitamin K found in Kale tops the charts when it comes to other greens and the calcium in this green machine is easy to absorb in the body, supporting healthy bones, teeth and hormones. Try this next time you want to add some nutrient-dense kale to your daily intake: Make a smoothie with apple juice, a frozen banana, 1 large leaf of kale, ripped in strips, a scoop of vanilla protein powder and ¼ cup of ice. Blend together and enjoy. To get used to the green taste, you may want to add a teaspoon or two of agave nectar or honey. Silky hair, strong nails and a healthy heart is yours for the sipping.
Not your grandma’s canned, red gross root-food from the 70’s-no way. Super powermom-strong, antioxidant-rich beets are here to stay and are one of the most sought after “it” foods of the year. This humble folic acid-filled crimson beauty boasts health benefits like high fiber, iron, potassium and Vitamin C-heading off heart disease and colon cancer. I appreciate that beets help lessen headaches and toothaches and really kick it in for my skin and menstrual problems. To learn more of the many benefits of beets, visit the Hub pages. To ramp up your day, try whipping up this delicious and easy salad, which takes very little time to prepare and is a great meatless main course: combine beets (roasted or steamed), crumbled goat cheese, candied walnuts and baby greens. For a main dish salad, simply add diced chicken. I also have a Roasted Red Beet soup in my book. If you contact me, I’ll send you that recipe, too!