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Sunday, January 15, 2012

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Are You Eating These 7 Fall Superfoods?

Team - 10:12 AM

Though fall is in many ways the unofficial season of gluttony (we're looking at you, Halloween and Thanksgiving), it's also a great time of year for healthy eats. The ground is flush with nutrient-rich root veggies and the trees are full of the crisp, quintessentially-autumn fruit that's number three on our list, they're practically doubling over.

Maybe best of all, with the sticky summer months behind us, there's something that just feels right about cooking again -- throwing on a cozy sweater and whipping up a meal with some of the healthy ingredients autumn has to offer.

For 7 of our fall superfood picks, read on.

Pumpkin


Why we love it:
In addition to being just oh-so autumnal, pumpkins are a great source of fiber and vitamin A, which according to the Harvard School of Public Health, stimulates white blood cell activity and regulates cell growth and division.

How to prepare:
Judy Caplan, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, suggests roasting or sautéing pumpkin "meat" with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. For a slightly sweeter treat, she suggests cooking the pumpkin with a bit of pure maple syrup.

Pumpkin Seeds


Why we love them:
Yes, we're still technically talking about the same fruit here, but Caplan says the seeds are nutritionally different enough from the pumpkin itself that they warrant their own shout-out. Why? Pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fats and oils.

How to prepare:
Spread 'em on a baking sheet and give 'em a good roast, says Caplan. She recommends people either grab a handful as a stand-alone snack, or work them into a healthy homemade trail mix with dried cranberries and whole wheat pretzels. Big salad fan? Try sprinkling a handful on top of your next creation.

Apples


Why we love them:
Two words -- convenience and variety. Not only are apples available in just about every grocery store, they also come in a wide range of flavors. Apples are high in fiber and are a good source of several vitamins, including A and C. One word of caution -- the Environmental Working Group put apples at the top of its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of high-pesticide fruits, so consider buying organic, or at least washing carefully before you eat.

How to prepare:
Throw a few apples in your bag and eat them, as is, throughout the day. Or for a slightly more substantial snack, slice them and enjoy them with a few slivers of cheese. Another tasty fall treat? How about some homemade apple sauce, sprinkled with cinnamon?

Persimmons


Why we love them:
From a purely superficial level, these beautiful deep orange and super-fragrant fruits are hard to beat. Better yet, Livestrong explains that they can be a good source of Vitamin C as well as manganese, potassium and (depending on their origin) calcium.

One word to the wise: Caplan says it's critical to pick persimmons that are really ripe and soft (they tend to come into season late in October and early in November): "If you've ever bitten into a persimmon that's not ripe, it's really distinct," she laughed, describing it as un unpleasant, chalky taste.

How to prepare:
Once you've found persimmons that are truly ripe, try eating them as is or working them into deserts, like pudding or accompanying a fresh, coconut ice-cream. You can also eat them in dried form.

Pomegranates


Why we love them:
Ok, so it's coming from the group that represents them, but there's some truth to the Pomegranate Council's claim that pomegranates are "the jewel of the autumn." The glistening ariles, i.e. the pulp surrounding the seeds, are high in antioxidants and, according to Jessica Crandall, RD, a spokesperson for the ADA, are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

How to prepare them:
Try sprinkling the seeds on top of hearty fall salads and desserts or sip some pomegranate juice, straight-up. You can also work the juice into a variety of dishes, from dinner entrees or in syrups and jellies.

Beets


Why we love them:
Actually, root veggies of all kinds, including carrots, turnips and rutabaga, are real nutritional stars in the fall and winter. Bright, tasty beets are jam-packed with folate, vitamin C and magnesium.

"They're high in pigment and high in nutrients," Caplan explains.

How to prepare:
For a cozy fall dish, Caplan suggests roasting beets with some fresh garlic and rosemary (also in season) and maybe topping that off with some fresh goat cheese. Beets are also great in salads or soups.

Brussels Sprouts


Why we love them:
Brussels sprouts are a staple Thanksgiving day dish and they also have beaucoup health benefits. Crandall says they are a good source of dietary fiber and folate and high in vitamin C. They're also a cousin of another cruciferous vegetable that's available year-round (so it's tough to have people think of it as "seasonal" at this point), but starts to be at its best in October: broccoli.

How to prepare them:
There are hundreds of variations you can try on roasted brussels sprouts, or you can work them into brussels sprouts gratin.

Source: huffingtonpost


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