Many delicious vegetables and fruits ripen and grow during the fall season. As the weather cools, you can enjoy hearty leafy greens, sweet root vegetables, and crunchy cruciferous plants. Keep reading to learn how to prepare five healthy fall foods!
The autumn harvest is rich with colorful vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber and antioxidants.
Make nutritionally balanced meals with these healthy fall foods by following the healthy plate model: fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter of your plate with lean protein, and the final quarter with carbohydrates.
The more variety you add to your dishes, the better! Your tastebuds will love it, and meeting your vitamin and mineral requirements will be easier.
What’s in season during the fall?
Fruits and vegetables are the most flavorful during their prime growing season. For example, cherries and tomatoes taste their best in summer, but hearty potatoes and root vegetables are richer in flavor in the fall. In North America, the fall months are abundant with these tasty foods:
- Brussels sprouts
Some of these foods grow well into December and even January in milder climates.
Building a balanced meal
It’s normal for your appetite to fluctuate between seasons. In fact, many people find themselves hungrier as temperatures start to drop. This is likely an evolutionary side effect to help you bulk up to survive winter.
If you notice you feel hungrier, you should eat. Ignoring your appetite cues can strain your relationship with eating and possibly increase the risk of overeating later.
You can build a nutritionally balanced meal by following the USDA healthy plate model. This easy-to-use tool ensures you get enough energy, nutrients, and vitamins to stay healthy and feel satisfied after eating.
To follow the healthy plate model, fill half your plate with non starchy vegetables that can be fresh or cooked. Cover one-quarter of your plate with a lean source of protein (it can be animal or plant-based), and fill the final quarter with high-fiber carbohydrates.
Examples of balanced meals using fall crops are:
- Shredded Brussels sprouts and kale salad with almonds, feta cheese, fresh pear, shallots, and a piece of baked salmon.
- Baked chicken thigh with acorn squash and a side of cucumber tomato salad.
- Chili with beans, extra lean ground beef, carrots, onion, parsnips, celery, tomatoes, and garlic.
- Egg omelet with leeks, arugula, goat cheese, and shredded pumpkin.
These meals are the tip of the iceberg. Check out the produce at your local grocery store to learn what's available, then start adding them to your meals.
5 healthy fall vegetables to try
If you want to eat more vegetables, but don’t know where to start, try these five healthy fall vegetables.
- Beets. Beetroot is earthy and sweet, and the flavors are enhanced through roasting in the oven. You can enjoy them hot or let them cool and add them to a salad. Beets can also be peeled and cooked into soups and stews. All beets offer great fiber and have potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and healthy nitrates.
- Cauliflower. You can buy orange, purple, or, most commonly, white cauliflower. Raw, the cruciferous vegetable has a mild vegetable flavor with a touch of astringency that hits the back of the tongue. Once cooked, however, it becomes a silky and creamy vegetable with a very mild taste. Cauliflower has fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and a small amount of calcium and iron. Add cauliflower to your salads, stir-fries, or soups.
- Pumpkin. Did you know that all types of pumpkins are edible? Roast pumpkin in the oven or add it to savory curry dishes. Americans also love to bake with pumpkin because it lends a natural sweetness to the dish. Pumpkins are a good source of fiber and have vitamin C and other antioxidants your body needs to stay healthy.
- Parsnip. A parsnip looks like a pale white or blonde carrot. The root vegetable has a much sweeter taste that is enhanced through baking. You can bake parsnip fries at home (similar to sweet potato fries) or add them to soups to enhance the flavor. Parsnips offer fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium.
- Leeks. Leeks are part of the onion family and can taste sharp. To soften the flavor, slice them thinly (or use a mandolin) and add them to creamy egg or chicken salads. You can pan-fry them with garlic or braise them with miso paste for a savory appetizer. Leeks offer vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium, and a small amount of iron.
In the fall, you gain access to delicious foods that are very healthy and easy to prepare. Many of these root vegetables can be roasted, baked, grilled, or boiled; some can even be served raw. Keep experimenting with new recipes until you find one that sticks.
- Nutrients. Relationship between Seasonal Changes in Food Intake and Energy Metabolism.
- International Journal of Eating Disorders. The effect of deprivation on food cravings and eating g behaviour in restrained and unrestrained eaters.
- USDA. My Plate Model.