Today please enjoy a guest blog post by a former intern, Maggie.
Love the flavors of fall foods but don’t want to derail the fitness and nutrition regimens you’ve worked so hard to maintain all summer? Autumn brings with it a new line-up of all star fruits and vegetables that are sure to keep you fueled up while looking and feeling great. This may actually be the perfect time to reintroduce fruits and vegetables that you may have forgotten about during the summer back to your kitchen! Use autumn as an inspiration for healthy snacks and your diet will be as nutritious as the leaves are colorful!
1. Apples. Cider mills and apple orchards that open for the season are great places to find these seasonal superstars. Whether you like a spectacularly sweet Honey Crisp apple or prefer the crunchy crisp texture of an Empire, they are all great sources of vitamin A, which is essential for vision health. Leave the peal on for extra fiber! Pair apple slices with peanut butter or spread apple butter on Tricuits.
2. Pumpkin. Of course fall would not be complete without picking out the perfect pumpkin to decorate your table with or in my case opting for any food “pumpkin flavored” (pumpkin spice latte anyone?), what you may not know is that pumpkin is incredibly rich in antioxidants and vitamins. It is packed with vitamin E and beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A in the body. Be sure not to forget about the seeds either, ¼ cup contains nearly 50% of the daily value recommended for magnesium, known to maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Try sprinkling pumpkin seeds into yogurt as a post-work out snack. My personal favorite pumpkin combination is adding 2 Tbsp of pumpkin puree to cooked oatmeal topped with dried cranberries and sprinkled with cinnamon for a breakfast that tastes absolutely fall-tastic!
3. Winter Squash. October also begins the winter squash season, unlike its summer counterpart; the winter variety has a slightly sweeter flavor and is a great complement to cinnamon and ginger. Similar to other richly colored vegetables, squash is an excellent source of carotenes. It seems as the richer the color, the higher the concentration. It offers vitamins B1, B6 and C, along with fiber and potassium. You can’t go wrong by grilling it and including it on sandwiches or baking it along with other vegetables as a side dish. Those following a gluten-free diet can also enjoy spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
4. Sweet Potato. Do common potatoes have you less than enthused about creating a dinner side dish? Give these beta-carotene powerhouses a try. Not only will you be getting 30% of your daily value of fiber in a single serving, but your metabolism will also get a boost from the manganese found in this vegetable. Sweet potatoes contain important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and have shown to lower the potential health risk posed by oxygen radicals when passing through the digestive tract. Homemade sweet potato fries are a sure way to get any kid to eat their vegetables and a great source of carbohydrate for athletes looking to add variety to their meals during training.
5. Pomegranates. Who knew this slightly sour fruit is at its peak from August to December? A great source of vitamin C, folate and potassium, pomegranates can be enjoyed in a surprising number of delicious ways. Try adding the seeds to a salad for a sweet crunch or guzzle a glass of pomegranate juice. You will be upping your antioxidant content because of the high amount of polyphenols they contain, that protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. If you start by cutting off the blossom of the pomegranate and submerge it in cold water you can easily rub the seeds off of the skin to avoid a mess.