Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall for These Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables!

Many thanks to Joanna Dolgoff, M.D., pediatrician and child obesity specialist, for this article on encouraging children to sample the nutritious seasonal fruits and vegetables available in the fall.

The fall is my favorite time of year.  I love taking in the scenery on a fall foliage bike ride-and getting some outdoor exercise before winter rolls around.  I also  especially love the fall for it’s seasonal produce!  However, when it comes to picky eaters, their love for seasonal fruits and vegetables can oftentimes be a struggle.

This week as I was educating a picky 8-year-old patient on the benefits of fruits and veggies and we came to an agreement.  This month he would have to try at least one new vegetable, more than once.  This is perfect for fall because there are a ton of fruits and veggies in season.  Not only do these fruits and veggies taste great, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as vitamin K and carotenoids, which have been linked to protect against certain cancers.

For your guide on fruits and veggies in season I have provided you with a list.  These are some of my faves! 

Broccoli: Broccoli is a green cruciferous vegetable packed with folic acid, vitamin K, A, and C. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Add it to cold salads, whole grain pasta, serve it cold or hot with toasted sesame seeds or simply lightly sautéed in garlic and oil. 

Brussel Sprouts: A member of the cabbage family, brussel sprouts get a bad rap. In my experience many people are scared of the little guys, but if made properly, they taste phenomenal and keep you full-- brussel sprouts are packed with filling fiber! My favorite way to eat them is roasting them in the oven. Brussel sprouts are a very good source of folate and a good source of iron.

Pumpkin: In addition to making a beautiful carving, pumpkin is a nutrient powerhouse. Its high levels of beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C may boost immune function. Pumpkin is also rich in potassium and high in fiber. Use pumpkin as a soup base, add it to chili, or simply heat it up with some cinnamon and Splenda for a sweet, savory dessert. 

A type of winter squash, pumpkin can be used for much more than jack-o'-lanterns. Its sweet taste and moist texture make it ideal for pies, cakes, and even pudding! Health benefits include:
Spinach: Probably my favorite green veggie, spinach is packed with iron, fiber and folic acid. Use spinach as a side dish, add it to soups, or eat it raw in a salad. 

Sweet potatoes: More nutritionally dense than their white-potato counterparts,
sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, and C and also contain potassium, iron and copper. Not only are they super healthy, but they’re naturally super sweet, too! For a savory dish, brush with some cayenne pepper, salt, and a sprinkle of olive oil for a healthier version of French fries.

Winter Squash: Best in October through November, winter squash is an amazing veggie. Sure, it's full of fiber, but did you know that our friend winter squash is also a  good source of vitamins A and C, several B vitamins, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids? Winter squash has a sweet flavor and is great as a side dish tossed with a few dried cranberries and paired with turkey, chicken or pork.
: Apples are full of antioxidants and some experts say it can curb your appetite and cause you to take in fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. Sweet or tart, apples are satisfying eaten raw or baked into a delicious dish. Just be sure to eat the skin—it contains hearty healthy flavonoids.
Grapefruit: Research suggests that this sweet 'n sour citrus fruit can aid in weight loss.  One small Scripps Clinic study found that eating half a grapefruit or drinking 4 ounces of juice with meals (without making any other changes in eating habits) resulted in an average weight loss of more than 3 pounds in 12 weeks.  Scientists speculate that the weight loss happens because grapefruit lowers insulin levels, which curbs your urge to snack. In addition, grapefruit contains more than 75% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin C, is a good source of lycopene, and contains pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. If grapefruit is a little too tart for you, try sprinkling a little Splenda on top. If not, try adding it to mixed greens, combine it with avocado and shrimp, or enjoy a fresh glass of its antioxidant-rich juice.               

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