Fallin’ in love with fall vegetables
Even though grocery stores in every area of the country can provide you with strawberries all year long, that doesn’t mean that they taste great all year long. Fall is the time for root vegetables and we’re in love with the sweet potato.
Lovin’ that Sweet Potato
There is a book called “The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner in which he looked at communities in which high concentrations of people live to be 100 years old, or older, and are healthy.
One of those five communities is Okinawa, a Japanese island. All Okinawans age 100 or older were born between 1903 and 1914. As they were growing up their diet consisted of primarily sweet potatoes. They ate fish three times per week and a full 67% of their diet was the imo, which is an Okinawan sweet potato.
The imo is a cousin of the orange sweet potato. It is high in flavonoids, vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids and slow-burning carbohydrates and is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. If you were to be stranded on a deserted island with only one food to eat, you should eat sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes can be eaten:
There are scores of recipes where the beautiful sweet potato takes center stage.
Rootin’ for Fall Vegetables
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Botanists consider only true roots (carrots, yams, beets, sweet potatoes) as root vegetables, but in common culinary terms we typically also include non-roots such as tubers, rhizomes, corms and bulbs.
Fall vegetables include a members of the squash family. Let’s take a look at a few of the vegetables (and fruit) that are currently “in-season” in grocery stores in November.
We love the sweet potato and think it deserves first place, although these other contenders for vegetable of the month are worthy opponents.
- Apples. They’re not a vegetable but apples are on our list for fall. They are loaded with fiber. Fiber can aid with digestive health, blood sugar control and heart health by reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels.
- Brussel sprouts. Whether steamed, roasted, baked, broiled or used in a recipe, these slightly bitter veggies go good with a sweet sauce, butter or balsamic vinegar. Just one half cup contains more than your daily recommended amount of vitamin K. Sprouts are a very good source of folate and a good source of iron.
- Butternut squash. The butternut squash has an hourglass shape and is full of fiber, vitamin A and folate. It has a high antioxidant content which can reduce inflammation in the body as well as reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- Cauliflower. The cauliflower season runs from September through June. It has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor. Try it steamed, or blended to create a mashed potato-like texture (add some roasted garlic) or pureed into soup. It has compounds that may help to prevent cancer and phytonutrients that may lower cholesterol.
- Parsnips. These resemble carrots and can be roasted, add flavor to rice dishes and potatoes or can be pureed for soups and sauces. They have a lighter color than carrots and a sweeter, almost nutty flavor. Parsnips are rich in potassium and a good source of fiber.
- Pumpkin. A pumpkin is not only a good jack-o-lantern; it is full of nutrients that can benefit the body. The fleshy body contains fiber, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C. The seeds (try roasting them) are full of zinc, magnesium, protein and iron.
- Rutabaga. This is veggie you may not know how to use, although they are popular in Swedish recipes. To use their earthy flavor, add them to casseroles, puree them with turnips and carrots to make a sweet soup, or roast them with ginger, honey or lemon. They are a good source of fiber and vitamin C.
- Sweet potatoes. You may wonder why you should use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. The reason is because these orange spuds have a low glycemic index, which means they won’t cause your blood sugar to spike. Sweet potatoes contain so much natural flavor that they rarely require additional salt, sour cream or butter to make them taste good.
- Winter squash. Winter squash season is October to February. It has a fine texture and a slightly sweet flavor and can be stored for months. It contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A.