Fall Favorites That Can Fight Fat
One of my favorite seasons is fall. After a hot and sticky summer, the fall season provides crisp morning temperatures and beautiful colors. It reminds me of fireplaces, fun holidays, back to school, and the start of some of my favorite foods and local produce in season. Fall foods are earthy with a touch of spice, consisting of favorites like apples, pumpkins, squash, turkey, cranberries, potatoes and more. Often times in the fall, we take these fresh and nutritional foods and turn them into calorie-laden comfort foods, which can add unhealthy amounts of fat and cholesterol.
To change to a healthier mindset, think fresh by using these tasty ingredients in their natural form, adding spices, seasoning and healthier ingredients that will enhance their natural flavor.
One of my favorite fruits of the fall is apples. There is nothing better than a sweet, crunchy apple to bite into for an afternoon snack! Apples are one of the only fruits grown in all 50 states, making them easy to find at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Whether you crave sweet or tart, there is an apple variety that fits your desires with more than 7000 varieties of apples grown throughout the world.
I am sure you have heard the adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It is true! The health benefits supplied by apples are huge and encouraging. This fist-sized snack needs little preparation and contains the following health boosting properties.
- Apples contain antioxidants, including vitamin C, which is great for boosting immunity and healthy skin and gums. One medium apple provides 14 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin C.
- Apples contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which can help lower cholesterol naturally and help keep the digestive system healthy. Researchers at Florida State University reported that older women who ate apples every day saw significant improvements in cholesterol levels, as well as other measures related to cardiovascular risk.
- Apples are a low glycemic index (GI) food meaning that it is absorbed slower into the bloodstream without causing quick spikes in blood sugar.
- Apples satisfy hunger for only a few calories, so it is not surprising that they can be part of a healthy diet that promotes weight loss.
- Eating an apple before you work out may boost your exercise endurance. Apples contain another antioxidant known as quercetin, which may aid in endurance by making oxygen more available to the lungs.
Make sure you store apples by themselves in the crisper as they emit ethylene gas, which can wilt or spoil other produce. Also, it is important to know that much of the nutritional benefits come from the apples skin. Make sure you rinse and clean your apples before consuming.
For breakfast, warm yourself up with a large bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice for a fall feeling. Or whip up these Apple pancakes for a healthier version of your favorite breakfast treat.
Pumpkins and other squashes are a true sign that fall has arrived!
Squashes are packed with a ton of nutrition. Not only are they low in fat and calories, but they are rich in:
- Fiber: ½ cup of pumpkin contains 5 grams of fiber. Fiber helps to control blood sugar, reduces bad cholesterol, promotes healthy digestion, and may also help aid in weight loss.
- Beta Carotene: Benefits include powerful anti-aging properties and protection from damage caused by free radicals. Beta carotene can be converted by the body into vitamin A.
- Potassium: Helps to maintain heart, brain, kidney and muscle function.
- Magnesium: Effective for treating migraines and helps with absorption of calcium.
- Pantothenic acid: Important for energy metabolism.
Pumpkin is particularly versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes, including muffins, soups, breads, desserts, smoothies, pancakes and more. Squash is not overly sweet by itself — you can add it to pasta sauce, mashed potatoes and a variety of other foods.
I am a huge fan of soups for any meal, but especially when the weather starts cooling off. They’re filling and tasty, and when made with the right ingredients they are full of nutrients. For a nutritious soup with plenty of flavor, try this Winter Squash and Lentil Bisque. Beans and lentils are a great base for any soup, providing protein and fiber to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
When carving your pumpkins this year, don’t throw out the seeds because they are loaded with nutrition too! Pumpkin seeds can be a healthy alternative snack to candy or chips. Pumpkin seeds are great sources of:
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3 fatty acids
When roasted, they taste absolutely delicious alone, on salads or with sautéed veggies.
Fall is a time for comfort foods and hearty cooking, but don’t go into hibernation. Create your fall favorites with a healthy twist and you’ll cruise through fall with a healthy outlook for the upcoming holiday season.
About the Author
Tara (Gidus) Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN is a sports dietitian in Orlando, FL. She works with the US Tennis Association, University of Central Florida athletics, World Wrestling Entertainment, Leadbetter Golf Academies and Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. She was the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic for 10 years. She also wrote Pregnancy Cooking and Nutrition for Dummies and Co-authored Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies. Tara enjoys being active with her husband and four boys.
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