The weather has officially cooled down (slightly) here in Texas and I’ve already made a few of our fall favorite recipes to fill the kitchen and our bellies. Fall is here and for most of us that means the fall cooking and baking has already commenced. From pumpkin bread, to squash soups, to sweet potato casseroles, the fall has a bounty of flavors to offer. When you think of fall produce, what comes to mind– most likely it’s the traditional flavors of fall such as pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, pomegranates, grapes, cranberries etc.
Fall produce not only tastes refreshing after the summer’s heat dies down but most of the fruits and vegetables are filled with phytonutrients and other benefits due to the rich variety of colors they exude. Phytonutrients, or phytochemicals are defined as ‘plant chemicals’ that help promote health by reducing the risk of some diseases. Phytonutrients have several different classes such as antioxidants, immunity boosters, and detoxification of some carcinogens.
Fall contains a wide variety of produce rich in orange, purple, and red colors. These are especially rich in phytonutrients such as Carotenoids, Flavonoids, Isothiocyanates, and Phenolic Acids. So what does this mean when we consume a diet rich in fresh fall produce?
Carotenoids are a type of phytonutrient that includes Beta Carotene, Lutein, and Lycopene, all of which are essential for our health and wellness. Beta Carotene can be converted to Vitamin A in our body, as well as act as an antioxidant, and neutralize free radicals that would otherwise damage our cells. Beta Carotene mainly comes from orange pigmented produce such as apricots, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and winter squash (butternut and acorn squash). Lutein is essential for our eye health and comes from green vegetables like spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Although it is also found in egg yolks and winter squash.
Flavonoids are another type of phytonutrient that contains several different classes such as anthocyanins, flavanols, flavanones, and procyanidins. These classes include produce such as dark cherries, berries, red grapes, apples, cocoa, citrus fruits, broccoli, tea, cinnamon, cranberries, and red wine. Flavonoids help to maintain brain function, heart health, and urinary tract health. They also act as antioxidants and reduce free radicals in the body.
Using fall fresh produce, I’ve rounded up my previous fall favorite recipes together in one post to kick start the season. From breakfast and sweet treats, to savory dinners and side dishes, these are just a few recipes to get your creative side going in the kitchen. Some of my favorite ingredients include sweet potatoes and pumpkin, not only because of the creamy texture they add to dishes but because I know these squash varieties are filled with nutrients.
All photos used were taken by and for The Healthy Chew, all rights reserved.
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