Fall is traditionally a colorful season with the leaves changing and an abundant harvest of produce before the snow comes. While we often think of summer as the season with the most fresh and nutritious fruits and veggies, let’s not forget about all the wonderful produce that fall has to offer along with the nutritional benefits packed into them. Plants get their colors from phytochemicals – and these phytochemicals have a lot more to contribute than just making our food pretty. Phytochemicals are compounds such as antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids that are produced specifically by plants and benefit us by supporting different body functions and decreasing free radicals that harm our bodies cells. The Fall harvest is plentiful with phytochemicals if you know where to look!
The most familiar fall produce includes squash, pumpkin, and apples, but what about other lesser known produce like gooseberries, kohlrabi, kumquats, endive, and Swiss chard? Because of our global food system, we can buy fresh fruits and vegetables all year round in the grocery stores. Items like grapes, pears, turnips, ginger, garlic, broccoli, and cauliflower are available throughout the year and we often forget these items have a season too. Fall is the season for cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli as well as leafy greens like Swiss chard and butter lettuce that grow best in cooler temperatures. Beets, turnips, garlic, ginger and other root vegetables also can be grown later into the cool months, as they grow underground. Fruits in season during fall are grapes, apples, pears, huckleberries, gooseberries, and cranberries. Citrus starts to come into season in late November with key limes and kumquats. Of course, let’s not leave out our fall favorites – squash! Delicata, butternut, spaghetti, pumpkin, acorn, and sweet dumpling squash all have a special place in the fall harvest kitchen. These fruits and veggies provide a rainbow of ingredients to add into your favorite recipes during the months of September, October, and November.
So what about those phytochemicals? We have them broken down by color as a simple way to sort out what Fall produce has which phytonutrients. While scientists are still working to understand phytonutrients, it is understood that they do have multiple positive influences in many body systems. Many of the health claims behind phytonutrients are based on preliminary studies, but we can still incorporate them into our diets knowing they are beneficial to our health!
All these fruits and vegetables have plenty of vitamins and minerals to contribute as well. Vitamin A is high in orange produce like squash and sweet potatoes. Dark, leafy greens are good sources of Vitamin K, calcium, and iron. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower also pack in lots of these nutrients too, as well as B vitamins. Apples and pears contribute lots of Vitamin C, as do many other veggies like broccoli. A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables will help ensure you are getting enough nutrients and phytochemicals to get the most out of the Fall harvest.
Try incorporating fruits and veggies into every meal with some of these Fall-forward ideas that will provide lots of nutrients and phytochemicals to give your body the best all season long!
- Kale, banana, and pineapple smoothie
- Pumpkin pancakes
- Broccoli and cheddar omelet
- Apple and gouda cheese panini
- Quinoa salad with butternut squash, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds
- Chicken Waldorf salad with fresh grapes and apples
- Kohlrabi coleslaw
- Chicken with roasted sugar beets
- Pork and apple-stuffed acorn squash boats with sautéed garlic Swiss chard
- Pot roast with mashed parsnips and gravy
- One pan chicken and root vegetable bake
- Gooseberry or huckleberry jam
- Apple-pumpkin crisp
- Chocolate and beet brownies
What’s In Season? Fall. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2017, from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-fall
What Are Phytonutrients? (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2017, from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-are-phytochemicals
Phytochemical List. (n.d.) Retrieved October 19, 2017, from https://pbhfoundation.org/about/res/pic/phytolist