Fitness Facts: Fun fall foods
By Emily Orvos
Registered Dietitian, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Fall has a different meaning for everyone. For some, it’s football Sundays. For others, it’s pumpkin patches and dressing up for Halloween. For many, myself included, it means enjoying all the hearty meals for a crisp fall day.
Contrary to popular belief, all our fall favorites can be part of a balanced diet. In fact, many of these classic staples already are packed with nutrition.
For example, pumpkin is a veggie rich with beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. This gives pumpkin (and others, such as sweet potatoes and carrots) that rich orange color.
You may know that Vitamin A is important for eye health, but did you know it also plays a big role in keeping your skin and immune systems healthy? Not only can this make you more excited to enjoy your favorite fall treats, but it’s also an incentive to incorporate these foods into other dishes you make at home.
When we think of fall staples, fruits and vegetables normally aren’t the first foods we name. However, there’s so much great produce in season right now. In-season produce is fresher, more nutritious and usually less expensive than its out-of-season counterparts. Here’s just a short list of what’s in season during the fall:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes or yams
You already might be incorporating some of these fall favorites in your diet, which is great. Can you challenge yourself to make a new recipe this week? Try a new in-season fruit or veggie you wouldn’t normally grab at the grocery store? Of course, sometimes it can be challenging to fit enough produce in your day. If that’s the case for you, here are some tips to make it easier:
- Dice some bell peppers or sweet potato to toss in your chili.
- Stuff half a roasted acorn squash with ground turkey and cranberries for an easy dinner.
- Add a large spoonful of pumpkin to your breakfast oatmeal, yogurt or smoothie.
- Bake a fresh apple or pear crisp with fiber-rich oats for a more nutritious dessert option.
- Prep a protein-rich snack by roasting the leftover seeds after carving your pumpkins.
- Chop sweet potatoes or carrots into strips and air fry or bake for homemade fries rich in Vitamin A.
- Sauté brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic for a quick dinner side.
If including more produce in your diet is your goal, I hope these ideas give you some inspiration. The most important thing is to find recipes you enjoy and make you excited to eat more fruits and veggies.