As we enter fall and winter, there’s a lot to look forward to: cool weather, the holidays, football, cool mornings, and warm evenings. It’s also a great time to revamp your diet according to the season. Delicious soups and stews, although not very appealing during Oklahoma’s summers, are perfect for the cooler temperatures. If done correctly, they can be warm, tasty and full of nutrients. Same with fall and winter produce and breakfast ideas. Even better, a lot of our fall favorites are slow cooker and/or easy to use. Plan, cut, fill, set the timer and go!
Cooking and eating seasonally is easier in the pocket too, because these crops are plentiful at the moment. Because they are often picked at their peak (rather than green and stored to ripen), seasonal produce is fresher. If you’re buying your goods at a farmers’ market, you’re also doing the environment a favor because locally harvested fruits and vegetables don’t have to travel across the country in trains or trucks.
Bean. A slow cooker full of beans is a treat for the all-day sensation when the weather is cold. Or when they’re chili (see what we did there?). Beans, peas, and lentils are affordable, tasty, gluten-free, easy to prepare, and versatile. Adding beans to your diet is linked to a lower list of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. They contain, on average, 7 grams or more of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber per serving. Most adults (and children) do not consume the recommended daily amount (RDA) of dietary fiber, which can help us feel fuller for longer and improve our cholesterol levels. Beans are full of folate (a B vitamin), and they contain good amounts of antioxidants, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin C as well. Add them to a breakfast burrito, in salads or grill some hummus as a snack.
Squash. In 2014, squash was declared “the most underappreciated superfood.” The truth is, orange squash like acorns, walnuts, and hubbards are incredibly nutritious. Remarkably tasty and versatile. Squash is one of the “three sisters” crops that indigenous cultures have grown for thousands of years along with beans and corn. These crops, grown together, helped each other thrive: the bean vines used corn stalks as a natural trellis, while the squash remained low-growing with its large leaves, helping it stay moist. But back to squash. Contains up to 750% of the daily recommended vitamin A and good levels of magnesium. Winter squash is low in blood sugar and plenty of fiber, as well as minerals and micronutrients. In the cooler months, the pumpkin lights up at mealtime. It’s inexpensive and delicious when sliced and roasted. Place roasted squash in a pot of chili, or sauté it with garlic and a handful of kale or spinach for a great pasta layer.
sweet potato. Perhaps your only annual exposure to sweet potatoes is swimming in brown sugar butter sauce or hiding under a batch of roasted marshmallows. Yes, we love them that way, but when you free them from their sugary limits and cook them in healthy ways, you might be surprised that they’re still messy and delicious. They are full of vitamins A, C, and B6 and minerals including manganese, copper and potassium and are good for gut health, thanks to their fiber content.
oatmeal. A bowl of warm, steaming oatmeal is a great start to a cold day in more ways than one. First of all, how delicious and versatile! You can add anything to oatmeal – sweet or savory. It’s the perfect canvas for your culinary whims. It is also a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. It is important how much processing the oats go through before they reach the bowl. Nutritionally, there isn’t much difference between Irish/steel oats and instant oats, but less processed (steel cut) oats take longer to digest and have a lower glycemic index than rolled oats or instant oats. Foods with a low glycemic index help maintain stable blood sugar levels. A diet rich in foods with a low glycemic index can also help maintain weight loss.
beets; Astonishingly beautiful, brightly colored beets are also a unique healthy food choice. Fear not – peel a handful of beets, cut them into 1-inch cubes, toss them in olive oil, shake with a pinch of salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for about half an hour. Eat it as a side dish or on top of a salad with it. Beets give you a good dose of beta-carotene, folic acid, and potassium. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, protects your cells from damage and is believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
Avocados (surprise!). Do you think avocado as a summer food? Concept. But some avocados turn out to be at their best between August and December. Described as a “near-perfect food,” avocados are a great source of healthy fats (omega-3), vitamins C, E, and K, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, B6, pantothenic acid, potassium and magnesium. One medium whole avocado also contains about 10 grams of fiber. Try adding avocados to diced chili peppers filled with beans, or putting scrambled eggs on them.
cabbage. Nutritional power! One cup of chopped raw collard greens has just 22 calories and gives you 54 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C, 85 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, a gram of protein and over two grams of fiber. Cabbage contains antioxidants, especially anthocyanins.
citrus fruits. As fall turns into winter, bright beautiful oranges, clementines, grapefruits, limes, and limes are a great juicy boost in our diets. Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, which helps maintain healthy blood vessels, skin, and bones by supporting your immune system. They also contain thiamine and potassium. Its large amount of insoluble fiber can help relieve constipation. Citrus is very versatile and delicious, too. Clementines are a great snack, oranges and grapefruit add great flavor to salads, and limes and limes enhance the excellent flavor of salad dressings, pickles, desserts and more.
An apple. One medium is packed with 3 grams of fiber (both soluble and insoluble), a gram of protein, a nice boost of vitamin C and just 95 calories. Apples are an easy to carry snack. It is rich in pectin and quercetin, the latter being a natural phytochemical that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Pectin, a soluble fiber, can help relieve constipation and may have a good effect on lowering bad cholesterol (LDL).
cruciferous vegetables They include Chinese cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, and collard greens. The National Cancer Institute has found that some substances in cruciferous vegetables (glucosinolates) break down during cooking and chewing to become active compounds including indoles, isothiocyanates, nitriles, and thiocyanates, which have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the bladder. Colon, breast, stomach, liver and lung.
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