With summer officially behind us and the fall in full swing, this time of year ushers in cooler temperatures and foods synonymous with the season. Fall foods provide many nutrients and can offer a diverse menu for your seasonal dinners.

Apples

Sweet or tart, apples are satisfying eaten raw or baked into a warm delicious dish. Apples are chocked full of antioxidants such as flavonoids and contain vitamin C and E. Apples are often stored which can mean loss of nutritional value, however, apples retain most all of their flavonoid content for five to six months in cold storage. Processing does lower the amount of flavonoid, so apples themselves contain more antioxidants than apple juice or applesauce. Apples contain about four grams of dietary fiber per serving, with most fiber found in the skin.

Squash

Unlike summer squash, winter squash has a fine texture and a semi-sweet flavor. Winter squash can be stored for months due to the thick, protective skin. Health benefits include omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and C. Squash tastes amazing with other fall flavorings, like cinnamon and ginger; for example acorn squash can be baked with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar for a tasty fall delicacy.

Pumpkin

Traditionally thought of for jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin can be used for much more. Pumpkin is a kind of winter squash and has a sweet taste and moist texture. Pumpkin can be used in pies, cakes, cookies, pudding and soup. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and potassium and provides an ample source of dietary fiber. Of course, baked pumpkin seeds are always a crispy traditional treat after carving the pumpkin!

Sweet potatoes

The sweet potato is a staple at most Thanksgiving tables. This vegetable is loaded with vitamin A, iron, vitamin B-6, potassium and dietary fiber and is perfect for a fall dinner side dish. Roasted sweet potatoes maintain more nutrients than boiled so chop a few sweet potatoes, coat with olive oil and season with cinnamon for a nutritious side.

Pomegranates

With their beautiful red color, this fruit is an antioxidant powerhouse. Typically harvested in August through December, pomegranate juice can be used in marinades and dressings. Toss the seeds into your favorite salads to provide additional flavor, vitamin C and folate.

Pears

Pears can be found at your grocery store year round, however, the best crops are produced in August through February. Raw pears provide a sweet and juicy crunch; however, baking or poaching pears brings out their natural flavor. Pears are rich in vitamin C, copper and dietary fiber.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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