Today’s post was contributed by Alissa Palladino, RD, LD.
It has been unseasonably warm the last week or so, but it looks like the weather finally decided to take a turn for the Fall-ish yesterday. If this cooler weather and the shorter and shorter days have you craving hearty, savory dishes then you’re in luck – the dark orange and green veggies in season now are perfect for creating warm and satisfying meals all season long. (Recipes at the end!)
• Butternut Squash: Just one of several squash varieties in season in the fall, butternut squash is high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C. With its bright orange color, butternut squash helps protect your eyes and can sub for pumpkin in recipes. For best quality, look for squash that’s heavy for its size and store it in a cool dark place for up to a month. Try it steamed and drizzled with olive oil, cubed and roasted, or mashed like potatoes. Make it sweet by seasoning with cinnamon, nuts and raisins.
• Sweet potatoes: Higher in vitamins A and C than their white counterparts, sweet potatoes can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Like other orange vegetables, sweet potatoes promote eye health and are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Choose firm, small to medium sized potatoes without blemishes or soft spots, store them in cool dark place and use within 3-5 weeks. Enjoy them baked, mashed, cubed and roasted, or –my personal favorite- cut them into wedges and make sweet potato fries! (See recipe below)
• Pumpkin: The benefits and uses of pumpkin go far beyond their best-known role as jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. Like other orange vegetables, they are a good source of vitamin C and an excellent source of vitamin A. Select pumpkins that are firm and heavy for their size, and store in a cool dry place for up to two months. Try toasting the seeds with a little olive oil and salt for a savory snack– make them sweet by adding cinnamon and brown sugar, or spicy with a bit of cayenne paper. Enjoy the “meat” of the pumpkin by roasting or sautéing it diced, along with diced squash and/or sweet potato. For healthier baked goods, try subbing canned or pureed pumpkin for some of the fat in your favorite brownie or muffin recipe. Pureed pumpkin is also great in soups and parfaits.
• Swiss Chard: A dark leafy green that often has colorful stems, Swiss Chard is high in magnesium and vitamins A and C. Choose chard with fresh green leaves and store unwashed in the crisper for 2 to 3 days. Delicious sautéed with olive oil and garlic, it’s also a great way to pack some extra nutrition into smoothies. Try adding it to soups and stews, layering it in lasagnas, subbing it for spinach in omelets and quiches, or steaming the stalks and eating them like asparagus.
• Brussels Sprouts: These cruciferous vegetables get a bad rep, but Brussels sprouts can actually be delicious when prepared right, not to mention low in calories and packed full of nutrients, such as fiber, vitamin C and folate. When shopping, look for firm, bright green sprout heads, and keep them refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to a week. My favorite way to enjoy Brussels sprouts is to cut them in halves, toss in olive oil and roast until they are brown and crispy, bringing out their natural sweetness (see recipe below). Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar complement their flavor nicely. You can also steam them, boil them, add them to stir-fries, or try them shaved in a cold salad.
Sweet Potato “Fries”
1. Pre-heat oven to 450° F
2. Peel sweet potatoes (if desired) and slice into wedges or strips.
3. Coat with olive oil and spread on sheet pan.
4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and any other herbs or spices you enjoy. Try cinnamon and nutmeg for a sweet dish, or paprika and chili powder for a spicy kick. (Or rosemary, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning… the possibilities are endless!)
5. Roast until potatoes start to brown and are slightly crispy, about 20-30 minutes, turning half-way through.
6. Remove from heat and enjoy!
Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F
2. Rinse and pat dry Brussels sprout heads. Trim ends and chop into halves.
3. Toss in olive oil (or use spritzer) and spread on rimmed sheet pan.
4. Roast sprouts until they turn golden brown and crispy (about 25-30 minutes), tossing half-way through.
5. Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
This recipe is delicious on its own, but there are many variations to explore to add flavor, texture and color! Try sprinkling Parmesan cheese, drizzling balsamic vinegar reduction, adding herbs and spices, such rosemary, or mixing in nuts and dried fruits (pecans and cranberries work great.)