Wednesday, October 9, 2019

By Cody Werneburg, NDTR, Dietitian

The weather is cooling down. Fall is around the corner. Halloween, hay rides, costume parties, and trick-or-treating. However, there is more to fall than all of that. Let’s not forget that the autumn harvest brings a variety of healthful and delicious produce from squash and sweet potatoes to apples and pears.

Pumpkins/Squash

The most famous of the fall fruits and vegetables the pumpkin. Largely because of the ability to clean it out and carve it up to create “Jack-o-Lanterns”. Also, the infamous Pumpkin Spice everything. However, that’s not all they can be used for. Pumpkins fall under the squash family, and they pack a mighty dose of alpha and beta carotene, which promotes healthy vision, they are rich in zinc and vitamin A, C, and E.

One of the best ways to use pumpkin is to whip it up into a pumpkin puree. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the guts and seeds, place the cut side down in a baking dish, add 1 cup of water, and bake for 90 minutes. When the inside flesh is soft scoop it out and puree it in a food processor. Then you can use it in pancakes, muffins, pie and other great things. Pumpkin puree will last for several months in the freezer, so you don’t need to buy that canned pumpkin!

Oh, don’t forget to roast those pumpkin seeds! Pumpkin seeds hold a whopping 30g of protein for every 100grams of seeds. Also, they are high in Monounsaturated fat which can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. Moving on to winter squash such as acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. These are similar to pumpkins in the nutrition department. They have alpha and beta carotene, zinc, vitamin A, C, and E. However, they all have a bit of different taste and texture.

There are a few ways to cook squash, you can sauté, grill, and bake. Put them in a casserole or on a shish kabob. Spaghetti squash once cooked can be used to replace spaghetti noodles.

Sweet Potatoes

You can find sweet potatoes through out the year, but these beautiful, orange starches taste the best in the fall. They are rich in beta carotene which your body can convert to Vitamin A. They are also high in fiber rolling in just under 4g of fiber per medium size sweet potato. There are many ways to cook them: pop in the oven for a classic baked sweet potato, sliced or diced and lightly oiled for some baked fries, grill it, mash it, or add it in chili. Get creative with them, they taste great any way.

Fall Fruits

Apples, pears, cranberries, pomegranates are all part of the fall fruit list. While you can get these fruits year round they taste much better in the fall. Apples, pears, cranberries, and pomegranates are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight inflammation and play a role in decreasing our chance of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Another important role fruit has in our body is providing soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps with digestion, and has shown to help reduce cholesterol in our body.

Fall has arrived, summer just had to go. Don’t worry it’s still a great time to pick up some good produce!