The first day of fall was September 23, yet one element of summer that’s sticking around a bit longer is your local farmers market. Strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, and leafy greens are replaced with apples, root vegetables, and various types of squash — you’ll probably start to notice a shift in produce at your local grocery store, too. Chefs will tell you to eat in season, in an effort to banish boredom while staying creative in the kitchen. But nutritionists agree that eating a variety of fruits and veggies is the best way to ensure you’re getting all of the proper vitamins and nutrients in your diet.
With that in mind here are four easy yet inspiring ways to enjoy fall’s bounty while keeping your physical and mental health in check. Serve separately as a light meal, or all together as a seasonal powerhouse on a plate — or bowl. Bon appetit!
NOT YOUR AVERAGE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
Just one cup of butternut squash provides nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich Vitamin C — it’s low in calories, too. This fall favorite also contains an abundance of potassium and vitamin B6, both of which aid in bone health and support the function of nervous and immune systems.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper
4-cups of low-sodium chicken broth
2 parsnips, chopped
1 butternut squash (about 1 ½ pounds) cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Plain yogurt and lime zest for garnish
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender — roughtly 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the broth, squash, parsnips, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the squash is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Working in batches, puree in a blender until smooth. Stir in the lime juice. Garnish with lime zest and plain yogurt.
POWERHOUSE PEAR-QUINOA SALAD
Pears don’t get as much attention as their red cousin the apple, but they should since they have copious health benefits. Are you ready for this? Each medium-sized fruit contains six grams of fiber, which makes it one of the most high-fiber fruits around. It’s important to get enough fiber as it helps keep you regular, beat bloat, keep cholesterol levels in check, prevent colon and breast cancers, and reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These nutritional powerhouses also contain a decent amount of vitamins K, C, B2, B3, and B6, as well as minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese — woah!
1 can of reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup of quinoa (rinse if necessary) but not the instant variety
2 tablespoons walnut or canola oil
1 tablespoon of a fruity vinegar — think pear, raspberry, or cranberry, or pomegranate
¼ cup of fresh (snipped) chives
¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper
2 pears, diced (ripe but not soft)
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (toasted is best)
Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in quinoa, reduce heat to maintain a
simmer. Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa has popped (looks fluffy), about 15 minutes. Whisk oil, vinegar, chives, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add pears and toss to coat. Drain any excess liquid from the cooked quinoa, if applicable. Add the quinoa to the pear mixture; toss to combine. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool for about 15 minutes or serve warm. Serve topped with nuts.
EGGROLL-INSPIRED CABBAGE ROLLS
Thanks to hearty doses of vitamin K and anthocyanins, cabbage can help with mental function and concentration, to include preventing nerve damage and reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Its sulfur content aids in the production of keratin, thus promoting healthy hair, nails, and skin — sulfur (and vitamin C) also removes harmful toxins that can cause skin diseases, arthritis, and rheumatism. Cabbage contains cancer preventative compounds and keeps blood pressure in check, so it’s a doctor’s favorite.
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork (or chicken, turkey, shrimp, or no protein whatsoever)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix
2 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 teaspoon toasted (Asian) sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until slightly bubbling. Add the pork and onion, and season with the salt and pepper. If cooking ground protein, break up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat is cooked through and the onion is tender, about 8 minutes. If using shrimp, cook until pink. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the coleslaw mix and soy sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the scallions, sesame oil, and vinegar; stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
EASY APPLE COMFORT FOOD
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, thanks to fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, all of which banish diseases like cancer, hypertension, and heart disease. And, like pears, apples have also been linked with weight maintenance, reducing dementia, decreasing the risk of stroke and diabetes, as well as certain forms of cancer.
2 1/2 cups of apples peeled, cored, and cut
1 cup flour; sifted
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter; softened
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
Arrange apple slices evenly in prepared baking dish.
Sift flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
Cut in butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal; sprinkle over apples.
Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool (slightly) before serving.