Fall Five a Day

     One of the most common recommendations to improve our health is to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. A diet high in these plant foods can improve blood sugar, blood pressure, inflammation, and promote a healthy weight as well as prevent chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

     The summer months are usally full of delicious berries, melons, peaches, and plums for easy snacks and desserts. Vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini are abundant as well, and make great light summer meals. When summer begins to fade into fall, many people are not sure how to continue the "Five a Day" recomendation since much of their summer produce is out of season. Thankfully, the autumn months are full of juicy fuits and tasty vegetables that provide important vitamins and minerals and make flavorful meals.

     Exploring seasonal fall fruits and vegetables can add variety to our diet and some autumn flair to our taste buds. Check out these quick tips for making these foods a part of your fall meals:

  • Fall fruits like apples, cranberries, and pears contain Vitamin C, an important antioxidant. They are great additions to salads or oatmeal, and pair (or pear!) beautifully with fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Roasting fall vegetables such as sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts enhances their flavor and provides a sense of warmth to dinner on those crisp autumn nights.
  • Pumpkins are not just for jack-o-lanterns! These harvest vegetables are full of antioxidants like beta-carotene and have a lot of heart healthy fiber. Even their seeds are useful! They can be combined with a variety of spices for a high protein snack.
  • Pureeing roasted pumpkin or butternut squash with vegetable broth and spices makes a creamy warm soup.
  • Replacing pasta noodles with spaghetti squash adds a flavorful boost of B vitamins and fiber.

     In addition to the nutritional benefits of fall produce, buying fruits and vegetables in-season can make your grocery bill a little lighter. Frozen and canned options are available as well. Check out these common fall fruits and vegetables:

Fruits: apples, cranberries, figs, grapes, pears, persimmons, pomegranates

Vegetables: beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, pumpkin, sweet potato, turnips, winter squash

For more information on in-season fruits and vegetables visit http://www.eatright.org or http://fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.


Written by: Melissa Perry, MS, RDN, LDN


Photo Credit: Cookinglight.com