P's Seasonal Eats: Fall
Now that it’s the first day of Fall and the weather has finally made the switch (fingers crossed that the heat waves are over and done with), the few trees we have in NYC are starting to change color, and the jackets are starting to come out. The cooler nights bring us into the kitchen wanting comforting foods, which for me means more roasted veggies with warmer spices, and plenty of soups! Fall is also a great time for all the moms and students out there. It’s back to school time and time to focus solely on you, which means taking care of yourself in the kitchen as well as the gym. In my first seasonal eats post, I talked all about eating seasonally to ensure we get the most out of our fruits and veggies by enjoying them at their ripest. Next up are my top Fall picks, all of which are easy to cook up in minimal time for a nutritious meal for you and your family!
- Eggplant: did you know eggplant is technically a fruit? But we all know them as a vegetable so we’re just going to pretend for the sake of this post. Eggplants (or aubergines, as they’re called in Europe) come in many shapes, sizes and colors and are a very nutrient dense food. They’re low in calories and carbs, but loaded with vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber, which is essential for proper digestion. Phenolic compounds are what give eggplants their rich color and are also what help to create and maintain strong healthy bones. Eggplants also improve brain health due to their supply of phytonutrients, as well as folic acid—an important nutrient for all of us, but especially vital for pregnant women! Eggplants can be enjoyed in a variety of ways from roasting, grilling, sautéing, and even pureeing. Great as a side dish, incorporated into veggie pasta, in a salad or in a soup. I love roasting them in a 400° oven sprinkled with olive oil, cumin, and chopped fresh basil for 15-20 minutes.
- Kabocha Squash: Is it just me, or does it seem like there is a new variety of squash every fall? While all types of squash are delicious and nutritious in their own way, Kabocha squash (or Japanese pumpkin) has to be my latest favorite! Not only are they incredibly tasty with their savory-yet-sweet flavor, but kabocha squash come in at around half the calories and carbs as their cousin the butternut squash. They are also an amazing source of vitamin C, iron, potassium, and beta-carotene (again, just check out their color!), which gets converted into vitamin A in the body. This is crucial for healthy white blood cells, immunity, bright eyes and glowing skin. This fall favorite also contains a solid dose of dietary fiber, which we all need for good digestion and reduced bloating. To boost the fiber content even more, don’t be so quick to remove the skin (also, one less step in preparing)! To talk them up even more, kabocha is incredibly versatile in the kitchen! I love using them as a base for soups, or simply roasted with a variety of herbs + spices. My preparation is to slice one in half, remove all seeds, then slice into half-moons. Coat with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with paprika and turmeric and toss to ensure they’re evenly coated. Roast in a 400° oven for 25-35 minutes (depending on size), checking on them throughout. If you don’t finish all of them, they keep well in the freezer to be saved for a delicious soup.
- Parsnips: a member of the root vegetable family, parsnips can sometimes be mistaken for carrots. They boast high levels of minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron in addition to vitamins like folate, B6, C, E and K. Their high levels of potassium help to reduce blood pressure and ease stress on the heart, while folate reduces homocysteine levels in the blood. And, if you haven’t already noticed the trend here today, they also are a great source of our good friend soluble fiber! Parsnips can be cooked with all different seasonings, depending on what taste you’re going after. They are also amazing in soups, which is perfect for those cooler nights ahead. I like to roast them in a 400° oven drizzled in olive oil with freshly chopped dill and rosemary; cook for 20-30 minutes, checking on them throughout.
- Pomegranate Seeds: These tangy yet sweet flavored fruits contain many beneficial plant compounds like punicalagin (not making this up) which is unique to the pomegranate. This, and the many other antioxidants they contain, can help protect the body from free-radical damage and help keep your heart healthy. Vitamins B, C and K are aplenty in this cool season fruit, working to keep your immune system up and running during the temperature changes. Pomegranates contain a good amount of—you guessed it-- fiber, as well as nitrates, which are converted into nitrite to help support blood flow and circulation, making these a great pre or post workout snack to promote muscle recovery. Just make sure not to mistake this with packaged pomegranate juice, as that is loaded with added sugars and void of nearly all of these benefits! I love adding this super fruit on top of smoothies, green salads, quinoa bowls, chia pudding and even in my wife's famous guacamole for a nice crunchy surprise!
- Pears: These sweet fruits are available pretty much everywhere and are great for us due to their high mineral content. Packed with potassium, magnesium, folate and iron, and rich in vitamins C and K, these little guys can seriously boost the immune system, keep your heart healthy, improve circulation and alleviate chronic fatigue. They will also keep your skin glowing and hair shiny thanks to vitamin A. No wonder most baby food consists of pears, they have everything you need (yes, including lots of fiber)! I love adding pears to smoothies, in salads, or even grilled up for a yummy side dish or dessert. One of my go-to fall breakfasts is a quinoa bowl with some sliced pear, some cinnamon and raw honey.
- Plums: yet another impressively nutrient-dense fruit, the deep color of plums can only mean one thing—antioxidants, making them incredible for reducing inflammation, and protecting your cells from free radical damage. Plums contain over 15 important vitamins and minerals, all working to keep both the immune and nervous systems functioning smoothly. Plums can be enjoyed in smoothies (honestly, what can’t you put in soups or a smoothie?), desserts, on top of grilled chicken—opportunities are endless. But my personal favorite way is to enjoy them in salads, particularly a combo of spinach, avocado, plums, lots of fresh basil, and lemon.
What fall foods are your favorites? Share your favorite fall recipes below, and head on over to our YouTube channel to see nutrition tips and tricks from the P.volve kitchen!