Thank goodness fall is here! The bounty for your table and family is amazing and amazingly healthy. Don’t pick up the pumpkins, gourds and squash just for display. Use them in the kitchen this season for a healthy, vibrant alternative to your “go-to” vegetables.
Pumpkin: That beautiful, bright orange vegetable is perfectly ripe come fall. Pumpkin can be made into scones, muffins, bread, and soup, added to homemade pastas, of course pies and the seeds can be roasted for a crunchy and incredibly healthy snack. Pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber, all perfect for pregnant women, nursing moms and babies. Vitamin A works with vision and as an antioxidant, vitamin C strengthens the immune system and fiber keeps the body healthy and clean. Look to add fresh pumpkin rather than canned; just cut and roast, boil or steam fresh pumpkin than add by folding gently into recipes. Usually a 1-1/2 cup addition adds the best flavor. Don’t forget the nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves for that warm fall flavor.
Squash: Squash, like spaghetti squash or acorn squash, when roasted and eaten as a side dish is filling and really good for the body by adding vitamins and minerals. Squash has more vitamin C than pumpkins but just as much fiber and squash has calcium which is beneficial for the bones and cells. Use seasoning rather than butter for a truly “good-for-you” side dish.
Zucchini: What makes green and yellow zucchini a great choice are the vitamins; thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid, all B vitamins, adding strength and energy to the body. Shaving or grating zucchini into muffins or bread, even pancakes or waffles will add texture and a fresh bright taste to your dishes. Don’t be afraid to dice and sauté, adding zucchini to pastas sauces, red or olive oil based.
Apples: A freshly picked apple, preferably locally grown if you can manage, is a great choice for a daily snack. The antioxidants in the skin repel cell damage, staving off wrinkles or and other signs of premature aging. Apples are loaded with vitamin C, great for the immune system, but be wary of dipping them in caramel or baking. When you break down the apple itself with cooking and eat them with sugar you can ruin the health benefits.
Pears: Pears, like apples, are a great source of fiber. Fiber and vitamin C, this fruit is perfect for breakfast, sliced in oatmeal or on the side of yogurt. Pears are a refreshing change to the apple if you’ve overloaded yourself with apple picking this fall!
Before the seasons really change, gather and use all the fall vegetables and fruit you can. Boost your immune system for the coming winter with a colorful variety of squash, pumpkin and fresh apples and fruit for a assortment in the kitchen and on the table.