The foods of fall reflect the warm colors of the season and connote comfort, warmth, and welcome. The spectacular yellow of the Gingko tree, the vibrant red and yellow leaves of the magnificent maple trees and the burnt orange of the ubiquitous pumpkin form a collage of fall color.
Why not take this opportunity to dig into the superbly nutritious cornucopia of fall fruits and vegetables? Use the fall food color palette below as a guide to choosing five of the best fall fruits and veggies:
1. Apples (red and yellow)
Red Delicious, Pink Lady, Mutsu, McIntosh, Jonathan, Jonagold, Honeygold, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Empire, Cortland, Braeburn, Pippin, Winesap, Gravenstein ... there are simply tons of delicious apples to choose from! While available year round, apples do have a season. The harvest season for apples runs from August to October depending on the variety. They can be stored for up to six months at cold temperatures. Packed with cholesterol-lowering fiber, vitamins and plant antioxidants, aim for an apple a day to truly keep the doctor away!
2. Brussels Sprouts (green)
From September to February, you can find locally grown Brussels sprouts at their peak. Try oven-roasting them with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and just a touch of sea salt for a crispy texture. Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, or a "crucifer," meaning they belong to the Crucifae family of vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables have numerous health benefits, most notably their ability to fight cancer. Crucifers contain isothiocyanates, chemical compounds that combat carcinogens by inhibiting their activity, repairing damage made by them, and also speeding up cancer cell death.
3. Pumpkin (orange)
Known as the quintessential fall vegetable, pumpkins mature in the fall and winter. Pumpkin is very easy to cook. Simply bake pumpkin flesh in the oven for tender, delicious results, or try it in a favorite recipe. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with a powerful antioxidant called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancer, reduces the degenerative aspects of aging and offers protection against heart disease. One cup of boiled pumpkin contains a mere 50 calories and three grams of dietary fiber.
4. Mushrooms (brown)
Many varieties of mushrooms peak in the fall, including the wild mushrooms: chanterelles, hen of the woods and lobsters. At just 19 calories for an entire cup, mushrooms are the perfect weight loss food! Mushrooms also provide a surprising amount of nutrition, loaded with potassium (the key blood-pressure-lowering mineral), selenium (a potent anti-oxidant mineral) and Vitamin D (mushrooms are one of the few natural sources of the sunshine vitamin). Meaty mushrooms are perfect for hearty fall dishes, so be sure to bulk up your meals with mushrooms.
5. Grapes (purple)
While grapes can be found in supermarkets all year long, locally grown grapes have their peak season in autumn when they’re plump and sweet. The purple variety of grapes (which can be either reddish-purple, true purple or purple-black), are rich in natural phytochemicals that can help reduce your risk of several chronic diseases. The skins of purple grapes contain a polyphenolic compound called resveratrol. Resveratrol has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The skin of the grape also contains quercetin, a type of plant pigment called a falconoid, which is responsible, along with resveratrol, for the color of purple grapes. Quercetin is also a potent antioxidant known to help stabilize and remove disease-causing free radicals.
Use the spectacular autumn hues to color your plate with these super foods!