Fall, not only the season for vibrant colors, giving thanks, and cute kids in Halloween costumes, it is one of the best times of year to get healthful foods right from your own backyard! The following 4 foods can provide important fuel for the fall season and are available at your local BC farmers’ markets:
1. PUMPKIN Why it’s fabulous: A good source of fiber, potassium and one of the highest sources of beta-carotenes (pro-vitamin A) & other antioxidants. The seeds have their own unique characteristics – high in omega 6 fatty acids and zinc. Chef’s Tip: The best variety to cook with are the small ‘sugar pumpkins’, as they weigh only a few pounds. Lightly roast the seeds to enjoy as a healthy snack. Fabulous fact: Pumpkin, free of cuts or bruises, will last in a cool room for 2 to 3 months and will actually sweeten over time. You do not need to refrigerate them!
2. KALE Why it’s fabulous: It’s one of the most nutritious vegetables we have, as it is chalk-full of calcium, carotenes (provitamin A and antioxidants), vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber. It is also a good source of copper, vitamin K, and iron! Chef’s Tip: The tough central midrib of kale takes longer to cook then the leaves, so it’s best to cook them separately to avoid over-cooking the leaves. To remove, lay a leaf flat on a cutting board and run a sharp knife down either side of the midrib. Fabulous fact: Kale actually becomes sweeter and more tender when hit by hard frosts!
3. APPLE Why it’s fabulous: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” for good reason – apples (particularly the skin) are an excellent source of fiber (pectin), vitamin C, and the bioflavanoid ‘quercetin’. Chef’s Tip: Considered #1 on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/), so it’s important to choose organic whenever possible! Fabulous fact: There is anywhere between 1, 400 – 7,000 apple varieties; however, only a handful make it to the marketplace. Try your local farmers’ markets to find other delicious varieties.
4. CRANBERRY Why it’s fabulous: Cranberry is a very rich source of anthocyanidins (a fancy word for the antioxidant pigments that give the blue, purple, and red hue to fruits and vegetables), vitamin C and soluble and insoluble fiber. They are also low in calories and have a low impact on blood sugar. Chef’s Tip: Fresh cranberry contain higher amounts of antioxidants than dried. Fabulous fact: Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which inhibit the adhesion of bacteria, such as E. coli, to the lining of the urinary tract, which can help prevent infections.