Fall is one of my favorite seasons, foliage, football, and not to mention amazing flavors, colors, and nutrition of the season! As the leaves begin to fall and temperatures get cooler it is also important to shift our plates to include seasonal fruits and vegetables! When a fruit or vegetable is grown in its optimal season it also reaches its peak for vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and not to mention flavor!!
Let’s take a closer look at the nutrition benefits of two of my favorites:
Pumpkin: Besides being a rock-star this time of year for decoration, pumpkins are full of nutrition! Pumpkin is one of the highest sources of beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in your body and plays a role in vision health, cancer prevention, asthma, and heart disease. Pumpkin also contains potassium which is essential for athletes to help prevent muscle cramps. Between the fiber and potassium content, pumpkin also plays a large role in heart healthy diet. The Vitamin C and beta-carotene also help boost immunity! But wait there is more…don’t throw out those pumpkin seeds! Toast them up and add them to your favorite salad or trail mix. They will give you a pop of protein to build muscle and keep you fuller. They also contain potassium, magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants!
Pumpkin Oatmeal: This meal provides the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat while filling your belly with warm and tasty seasonal ingredients…Yummy!
- ½ c old fashioned oats cooked
- ½-1 c reduced fat milk
- ¼ c pumpkin puree
- 1 ripe banana
- ¼ cup chopped
- Cinnamon and Nutmeg to taste
- Honey or brown sugar to taste
Combine oats, milk, banana, and pumpkin in a microwave safe bowl and cook according to directions on oatmeal. Stir together well and add in brown sugar/honey/agave if desired. Top with chopped pecans (or other nut of choice), cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bon appetite!
Crunchy and delicious, these are one of the most portable and snack worthy foods out there! Apples are not only tasty but also bring a lot of health benefits to the table. They are full of fiber which helps to keep us full, aids in digestion, and is also part of a heart healthy diet. They are also high in Vitamins A and C which aid in vision health as well as immunity. The skins of apples contain a powerful antioxidant known as polyphenols. The New England journal of Medicine published a study in 2012 showing that the polyphenols in apple skin help to regulate skin cell growth and may help to treat or prevent certain skin conditions. Pair it with a protein such as cheese or peanut for a perfectly balanced snack to keep you satisfied until your next meal. They are also delicious in salads or on sandwiches…just remember to leave the skin on (yes, even in an apple pie!)
Turkey Apple Cheddar Melt: This delicious sandwich provides a perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in a nice neat package ideal for lunchtime, or paired with a warm bowl of soup at the dinner table. It will give your athletes the right balance of nutrients to power them through the afternoon and fuel them for practice after school. I prefer this toasted so that the cheese is melted, but can be served cold! Vegetarian? You can still enjoy just omit the turkey!
- 2 slices whole grain bread
- ~3oz roastedturkey breast
- 2 slices cheddar cheese
- 1 small apple sliced or ½ large apple sliced
- Spinach leaves (as many as desired)
- Honey mustard spread (to desired taste on bread)
- Option to add cooked mashed sweet potatoes (also seasonal and increases the carbohydrate content for individuals needing to sneak in a few more calories at each meal!)
Always Remember to eat the rainbow, the more colors the more nutrition…Happy Fall everyone!
– Laura Moretti MS RD CSSD LDN
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