By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Each season brings wonderful new produce to be enjoyed for so many wonderful healthy benefits. Fall is a bountiful season for many healthy fruits and veggies that are also tasty and fun to add to recipes – both raw and cooked.
It’s important to buy seasonal produce because it’s fresher, richer in nutrients and often less expensive than produce that has been shipped from other parts of the country or even the world. Here are six of my favorite fall fruits and vegetables, plus recipe and cooking ideas.
Cauliflower is an all-time favorite of mine, and a vegetable that I always keep on hand in my fridge. Cauliflower is a versatile veggie and good for you as well. It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetable family that contains a sulfur-containing sulphoraphane that may help to slow tumor growth. Cauliflower also contains indole-3-carbinol that’s anti-inflammatory along with other nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium and b vitamins. Try: Fennel Seed and Roasted Cauliflower recipe.
Brussels sprouts are another member of the cruciferous vegetable family and also great for you (and tasty!). Like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing nutrients that can help to promote detoxification by the liver. Brussels sprouts also contain indole-3-carbinol that is anti-inflammatory and may help to prevent certain diseases like cancer and heart disease. Try: Pear-Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Garlic is another seasonal fall vegetable. I find that many people avoid it due to its strong odor, but it’s actually the strong odor that makes it so healthy for you. Garlic contains a nutrient called allicin that’s anti-cancer and helps to boost the immune system. Garlic is a source of manganese, which is a key part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase. Garlic also contains other key nutrients like copper and thyroid-healthy selenium. Many of us use garlic when cooking, but one of my favorite things to do with garlic is actually to roast it whole and eat it. Find out how to roast garlic.
Figs are also in season in the fall and are a great source of healthy nutrients and like some of the other produce mentioned — so tasty! Figs are a great source of nutrients like iron, gut-healthy prebiotics, heart and gut-healthy fiber, and electrolytes like potassium and some salt. Figs are also a source of magnesium that’s a key nutrient involved in many key reactions in the body as well as involved in muscle contraction and relaxation. Try this tasty Fig, Almond and Date Smoothie.
Fennel is a root vegetable related to other root vegetables, like carrots and celery. Fennel has a licorice-like flavor and is tasty and healthy when both cooked and raw. Fennel contains a nutrient called anethole that may be helpful in preventing cancer and may also prevent inflammation in the body. Fennel also contains nutrients like vitamins B and C, and heart-healthy fiber. Try Kale, Fennel and Tahini Salad.
Cranberries are a total seasonal favorite and nothing reminds me of fall and winter like cranberries do! They’re a great addition to so many different types of foods and meals. Cranberries contain healthy nutrients call polyphenols that may help to protect against certain types of cancers as they act as a potent antioxidant in the body and also work to promote a healthy heart and blood vessels. Cranberries are also a source of anti-inflammatory anthocyanin and other vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and E. Finally, cranberries have also been touted for their ability to potentially help reduce urinary tract infections (although this finding is often disputed). Try Cranberry Apple Ginger Juice.