Fall is in the air! Can you feel it? The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and training feels idyllic! While the temperatures might be dropping, you can still bring the heat when it comes to your nutrition plan.
One of the pillars of a solid nutrition plan is incorporating colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables daily. Reaching for in-season produce ensures maximum taste and minimal impact on your wallet. However, let’s be honest, it can be easy to get into a recipe rut. We’ve brought your 35 ways to include fall produce into your daily nutrition plan.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Maybe the author of this saying was onto something. Apples are rich in vitamin C, which is a powerful immune-supporting antioxidant. They are also high in soluble fiber, which may help lower blood pressure. Lastly, apples are packed with polyphenols, or plant compounds, that have been linked to lower blood pressure and stroke risk.
Ways to Use Apples:
• Slice or julienne apples to use in a slaw by itself or add to a salad.
• Sauté chopped apples in butter and season with cinnamon. Top with greek yogurt & pecans or walnuts for a sweet snack.
• Try sautéing sliced apples with cabbage to use as a side for pork chops.
There’s not much better than a ripe, juicy pear. They pack a solid nutrition punch to boot. Similar to apples, pears are rich in soluble fiber and vitamin C. Pears are also a potent source of potassium, which might help reduce high blood pressure risk.
Ways to Use Pears:
• Poach or roast pears and top with whole milk ricotta for a low sugar dessert.
• Slice and serve as part of a meat and cheese board. The potassium can offset some of the excess sodium in those sodium-rich foods.
• Chopped or sliced pears go great in salads and slaws. You can even blend pears into a vinaigrette dressing.
• Enjoy blended into smoothies, especially for those with a slant towards constipation.
Brussel sprouts are the vegetable you hated as a kid but somehow now love as an adult. Again, they are high in vitamin C (are you sensing a theme with most fruits and veggies?), as well as vitamin K, folate, and manganese. Brussels are also high in one antioxidant that is linked to reduced cancer risk, decreased inflammation, and promotion of heart health.
Ways to Use Brussels Sprouts:
• Sauté shredded Brussels with bacon pieces as the base for a vegetable-rich breakfast hash.
• Slice and roast Brussels with chicken sausage and sweet potatoes for an easy autumn sheet pan dinner.
• Toss shredded Brussels in an apple cider vinegar dressing for a quick and tangy slaw.
• Thinly slice and toss with oil and your favorite spices. Bake in the oven until crispy and serve like chips.
• If it’s still warm enough to grill, you can try them cut in half, skewered and grilled until crisp-tender.
While not a fruit or vegetable, mushrooms still offer a strong nutrition profile. They are rich in selenium, B vitamins, and even potassium. Mushrooms contain beta-glucan, which is a type of soluble fiber that is linked to a reduction in cholesterol and heart disease. Some mushrooms can be a decent source of vitamin D, which might be helpful for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Ways to Use Mushrooms:
• Stuff mushrooms with ricotta, parmesan and herbs. Bake until soft and golden. These are a great lower-carb appetizer or side dish.
• Added sliced mushrooms to a stir fry or skillet dish.
• Grill thick portobellos as a side or vegetarian main. They are great topped with balsamic vinegar.
• Added chopped and sautéed mushrooms to any homemade or even store-bought pasta sauce.
• Used sliced mushrooms as a whole grain pizza topping.
You either love or hate beets; there very rarely is an in-between. It “beets” me why anyone would turn them down. (I apologize for the poor joke, but hopefully, you cracked a smile). Beets are high in manganese, which is essential in mitochondrial health, as well as folate, which is critical for red blood cell production and cell growth. Beets also contain a high concentration of nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, making it powerful for blood pressure control and stroke prevention. It can help boost endurance performance as well!
Ways to Use Beets:
• Blend into smoothies with berries and greens.
• Serve over arugula with sliced oranges, goat cheese and nuts.
• Blend into homemade hummus or white bean dip.
• Roast with sweet potatoes & onions for a colorful sweet and savory side dish.
Cauliflower’s moment has hung around for quite some time. Is there anything it can’t do? It’s high in vitamin C and K, as well as choline. Choline is critical in liver function, metabolism, and healthy brain development. Cauliflower also contains a powerful antioxidant called sulforaphane, which is linked to reduced risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Ways to Use Cauliflower:
• Try frozen riced cauliflower in smoothies. It blends in really nicely and makes smoothies super creamy.
• Roast cauliflower florets with garlic and turmeric powder for a high anti-inflammatory side dish.
• Use riced cauliflower in a stir fry or other skillet dish.
• Slice cauliflower into “steaks,” and either roast or grill as a side dish or part of a vegetarian main dish.
• Try it steamed and pureed into soups for extra creaminess without a lot of extra calories.
Sweet potatoes are truly a nutrition powerhouse. They are probably best known for their orange color, which is from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that supports eye health. Sweet potatoes are also high in B6, C, manganese and potassium. They are also filled with gut-supporting fiber.
Ways to Use Sweet Potatoes:
• Use them shredded or cubed as part of a breakfast hash.
• Cut into small cubes and add to chili for a sweet and savory twist.
• Slice thin and used in a layered in a potato gratin dish.
• Mixed cubed roasted sweet potato with black beans for a vegetarian taco or enchilada filling.
• Slice into fries, toss in oil and bake for a healthy fry side dish.
Pumpkin can be used for more than bread and lattes this time of year. It’s high in vitamin A and is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, riboflavin, copper, and manganese. It’s extremely versatile in sweet and savory dishes.
Ways to Use Pumpkin:
• Stir ½ cup pureed pumpkin into oatmeal with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Top with Greek yogurt and pecans or walnuts.
• Pureed pumpkin goes well stirred into bean soups.
• Toss pumpkin seeds in a little avocado oil and spices and bake until crispy. They make for a nutrient-rich snack!
• If you want pumpkin bread, aim for a recipe with a lower amount of added sugar. Always pair something like pumpkin bread with protein and fat, like almond butter to support stable blood sugar.
Don’t coast into the holidays just yet! Dial-in your nutrition with lots of seasonal produce to maximize your performance and health.