It’s not all about pumpkin pie and spiced lattes when the cold weather rolls in. Fall brings with it a lot of healthy, nutritious foods that can keep your energy up and your waistline slim. Dr. Mary Jones-Verboski, a dietician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, shares some of the fall foods you and your family can proudly indulge in this season.
1. Pomegranate seeds
Deserving of all their glory, Jones-Verboski says pomegranate seeds are super high in antioxidants (more than green tea, blueberries or wine), fight free-radical damage (caused by stress and junk food), slow aging, and are a natural way to boost your immune system.
While some people opt for pomegranate juice, Jones-Verboski recommends eating the complete seeds.
“That way you get the fibrous part too, not just a sugar pulse. You want to put your body through that work because it slows that sugar spike.”
How to eat them: Remove any light-colored clothing and dig in, Jones-Verboski says. You can also enjoy the seeds in smoothies. She recommends combining spinach, avocado, berries, yoghurt and ice for a tasty, power-packed treat.
Potatoes get a bad wrap, but Jones-Verboski’s says spuds are a satisfying food that contains vitamins C and B6, folates and antioxidants.
“They have a lot of good stuff as long as they’re not covered in cheese and sour cream all the time.”
Mary’s cooking tip: Roast whole potatoes or bake your own french fries.
They’re popping up all over grocery stores right now, and they offer amazing health benefits! Jones-Verboski says one cup of cooked squash is packed with vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium and folate. These food stars will give you energy, benefit blood quality and improve eyesight and skin quality – especially when the cold weather makes you dry and scaly.
Mary’s cooking tip: In a shallow baking pan, cover cubed squash and potatoes with onions, olive oil and herbs. Broil at about 400 to 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
“I love broiled or baked squash,” Jones-Verboski says. “It’s a great way to eat them and get the nutrition and still get that roasted caramelized taste.”
Bonus! Onions have great enzymes to promote cell renewal.
Leeks are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. Jones-Verboski says they improve blood flow, fight free radicals and are an anti-inflammatory.
So how do you cook leeks? Jones-Verboski recommends adding them to your favorite soup recipe or chopping and sautéing them like onions in stir-fry.
Beets are a natural source of iron, folate, manganese and potassium. They help with blood flow, fight heart disease, contain antioxidants, cleanse you lives and fight inflammation.
Mary’s cooking tip: Chop the tops and peel the dirty layer off of beets. Wrap them in foil and roast in the oven at about 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. The foil keeps the juices in so your beets turn out moist and delicious.
Once they’re cooled, dice beets and toss in a salad of dark, leafy greens with goat cheese and walnuts.
Bonus! Walnuts have lots of omega-3 fatty acids which will keep your skin from drying up this winter.
Starting your morning with a hearty dose of carbs will increase serotonin levels and keep you from feeling the winter blues, Jones-Verboski says. Unlike some other cereals, oatmeal is a healthier, whole grain.
Mary’s cooking tip: Mix in some nuts and berries for a protein boost and antioxidants. Avoid super-sugary, prepackaged oatmeal and instead add a touch of maple syrup, honey or fruit to sweeten it up on your own.
Soup offers a great opportunity to cook vegetables and trap many of the otherwise lost nutrients in the broth. Jones-Verboski says healthy soups are easy to digest and build immunity – especially when they include things like celery, carrots, cabbage, ginger or mushrooms. Overall, soups pack in a lot of nutrients into fewer calories.
Mary’s cooking tip: First, it’s important to pick a healthier, broth based soup. Minestrone has far more nutritional benefits than baked potato soup with bacon and cheese. Go easy on the dairy by adding cheese, sour cream or yogurt to individual portions after the soup is prepared.
Jones-Verboski also recommends adding lean proteins to soup like lentils or beans.
WARNING: Watch out for pre-packaged soups that tend to be higher in sodium. To fight that, Jones-Verboski says she will add to an already prepared soup – such as cooking ground beef and onions without salt and adding it to a vegan chili from the grocery store. That increases the protein and cuts the sodium in each portion.
When you’re looking for a healthy, social outing this fall Jones-Verboski recommends dining on sushi.
“It’s a great way to enjoy vegetables, lean meat and try new things!” she said. “Plus, it’s better than chips and dip.”
When ordering Jones-Verboski suggests selecting sushi with vegetables in it and avoiding fried foods.
Bonus! Salmon and tuna will provide you with delicious Omega 3’s.
9. Broccoli and cauliflower
These veggies offer lots of vitamin C, potassium, iron, B vitamins and can help fight chronic diseases.
Still, a heaping helping of broccoli doesn’t get everyone’s mouths watering. Jones-Verboski’s tip: Put cheese on it!
“It’s better to eat broccoli or cauliflower with something on it than to not eat it at all,” she says.
Mary’s cooking tip: Steam and add homemade alfredo sauce or enjoy raw with a dip of ranch and yoghurt.
10. Dark, leafy greens
Dark, leafy greens like kale improve circulation and fight chronic diseases with iron, potassium, folate and vitamin K. They are excellent for nursing moms and women of a child-bearing age, Jones-Verboski’s says.
Still, how do you get a kid to eat kale? Jones-Verboski has come up with a recipe even her teenage daughter loves.
Mary’s cooking tip: Cut kale leaves off of hard stems and dice into tiny strips. Mix in lemon or lime juice and soy sauce to soften leaves, add a tablespoon of mayonnaise and enjoy!