There’s more to fall flavors than just pumpkin spice! This season brings tasty vegetables that are colorful, delicious and loaded with vitamins and minerals. I’ve listed examples of traditional autumn produce below, followed by a few recipes to help you incorporate the season’s bounty into your weekly meal rotation.
Beets are delicious from top to bottom. They have a green, leafy stem that can be sautéed and enjoyed like spinach. The beet itself can be cooked by boiling, roasting or grilling. It can also be sliced raw and added as a colorful topping on a fall salad. The red color of beets contains a chemical that can help to lower blood pressure, making a healthy addition to any diet. The red coloring of beets can also be used as a natural alternative to red food coloring.
The trendiness of kale may fade, but not its place as a nutrient-packed vegetable superstar. Kale is full of fat-soluble vitamins A, C and K. These vitamins help keep your skin, eyes and brain healthy. Kale is also full of the mineral manganese, which contributes to the functioning of your brain, nervous system and many of your body’s enzyme systems. Kale can be sautéed, baked into chips, or used as the base of a nice fall salad. It also adds great color to winter soups.
Pumpkins and Sweet Potatoes
Orange vegetables like pumpkins and sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A and fiber. Vitamin A keeps your eyes and skin healthy, while fiber keeps your GI system running smoothly. Fiber can also aid in weight loss! There are many ways to enjoy pumpkin. If you like sweets, make a pumpkin pie. If you prefer savory food, use pumpkin in soups and casseroles. Sweet potatoes also play a dual flavor role and are great roasted, mashed or grilled and can be topped with a drizzle of honey, a dash of brown sugar or a sprinkle of cinnamon for a little added flavor.
Fall is best known for producing a multitude of squash. A few examples include acorn squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and ambercup squash. Squash contains vitamins A, C and E, as well as the minerals calcium and iron. Squash can be roasted, baked, pureed for soup and used as a nutrient-dense substitute for pasta and other grains.
This fall, challenge yourself to try as many new produce items as you can!
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ lbs sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups pumpkin puree
1 ½ cup of fat free half and half
1 ½ cups of grated parmesan cheese
12 lasagna noodles
1 cup reduced fat or fat free ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded reduced fat or fat free mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Mix sage, salt, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves together in a small bowl to make a spice blend.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, and 1/2 of the spice blend; cook and stir until mushrooms are tender and all moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Combine 2 cups pumpkin puree, 3/4 cup fat free half and half, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and remaining spice blend in a bowl.
Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles in the bottom so they slightly overlap. Cover with 1/2 of the pumpkin mixture and 1/2 of the mushroom mixture. Dot with 1/2 cup ricotta; sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese on top. Repeat layers once more. Place remaining 4 noodles on top.
Combine remaining 1 cup pumpkin puree, remaining 3/4 cup half and half, 1 dash nutmeg, and 1 dash cloves. Spread on top of noodles. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese on top. Dot with butter. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes more.
From All Recipes: listed under Pumpkin Lasagna
Butternut Squash Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1-2lb butternut squash – peeled, seeded and cubed
1-14.5 ounce can of chicken broth
1-12 ounce can of non-fat evaporated milk
½ cup of coconut milk
½ tablespoon Splenda Baking Blend
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup light sour cream
Chopped fresh thyme to taste
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, ginger, and jalapeno pepper; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 7 minutes.
Add the butternut squash and chicken broth, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the fat-free evaporated milk, coconut milk, Splenda Baking Blend, salt and pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes more.
Pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree.
Puree in batches until smooth, and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with light sour cream and thyme to serve.
From All Recipes: listed under Butternut Squash Soup with a Kick
Roasted Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash - cut in half lengthwise, peeled, seeded and cut into 12 wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Mix olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together in a gallon-size re-sealable plastic bag. Place acorn wedges into bag; shake to evenly coat with oil and spices. Place slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes; turn wedges. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 20 additional minutes.
Place acorn slices on a serving plate, let cool slightly and enjoy!
From All Recipes: adapted from Cheeky Cherry Acorn Squash
Sheet-Pan Shrimp & Beets
1 pound small beets, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
¾ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
6 cups chopped kale
1¼ pounds extra-large raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
3 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss beets with 1 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
Toss kale with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in the bowl. Stir into the beets on the baking sheet.
Sprinkle shrimp with mustard, tarragon and the remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place on top of the vegetables. Roast until the shrimp are cooked and the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Transfer the shrimp to a serving platter. Stir sunflower seeds into the vegetables and serve with the shrimp.
From: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2018