By Travis Rea
Eating foods that are in season and ideally locally grown will cut down on your grocery bill and reduce your carbon footprint. Here are my top 5 foods that you should try this Fall.
Where I live in the Lower Mainland, BC we are lucky to have local Swiss chard available up to late November. Many stores will have imported Swiss chard available all year.
Benefits of Swiss Chard
- Excellent source of vitamins C, E, and K, carotenes, chlorophyll, and fibre.
- Excellent source of several minerals including potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese.
- Good source of many other nutrients including vitamin B6, protein, calcium, thiamine, selenium, zinc, niacin, and folic acid.
- Powerful anti-cancer foods due to its combination of nutrients; photochemical, chlorophyll, other plant pigments, and soluble fibre.
- Beneficial in the maintenance of bone health.
Uses: Use this green leafy vegetable just like you would spinach. It can be eaten raw in salads or sautéed with a little garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice. Or slightly roast in the oven with a little parmesan for a great side dish. You can even add to fruit smoothies for a nutritional boost.
Butternut, Acorn and Spaghetti are a few popular varieties.
Benefits of Winter Squash
- Excellent source of vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, Beta-carotene is an antioxidant essential to healthy vision, and it may also boost the immune system and protect the body from the kind of free radical damage that may cause heart and blood vessel disorders and cancer.
- Provide plenty of potassium, a mineral that helps to regulate the kidneys and the heart, as well as the muscles and nerves.
- Excellent source of fibre in these fine fruits, which helps to reduce cholesterol, maintain intestinal health, and moderate blood sugar levels.
Uses: Squash can be roasted whole with a little butter and brown sugar. You can also try ethnic curry dishes with squash. Keep the seeds and roast them with a little salt for a great salad garnish or snack. Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta for traditional spaghetti and meat balls.
Also available locally well into the fall months.
Benefits of Mustard Greens
- Low in calories and contain a large amount of antioxidants.
- Excellent source of vitamins B6, C, and E, folic acid, calcium, carotenes, manganese, copper, and fibre.
- Good source of phosphorus, vitamins B1 and B2, magnesium, protein, potassium, and iron.
- Due to their high content of antioxidant compounds including vitamins C and E, carotenes, and a high content of glucosinolates, like other greens, have anticancer effects
- Beneficial for women who are going through menopause. They help protect against breast cancer and heart disease.
- Their high content of nutrients (such as calcium, folic acid, and magnesium) is also supportive of bone health.
Uses: This great salad green has a slight peppery flavour that adds a little zip to any salad. Lightly dress with sea salt, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice. Mustard greens can also be used in sandwiches or burgers to replace lettuce. You can lightly sauté them with fresh onions and tomatoes.
Grow this on your patio, front step, or back yard garden.
Benefits of Rosemary
- Known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
- Known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties.
- Rich source of many B-complex group of vitamin, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin.
- Contains very good amounts of vitamin A known to help body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- excellent source of iron
- good source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin C
Uses: This is an extremely hearty herb that can be grown almost anywhere. Use fresh whenever possible to experience the full flavour and get the most nutrients. Use in homemade tomato sauces. Mix with olive oil, potatoes, sea salt, and pepper for delicious roasted potatoes.
Usually popular around the holidays but can be incorporated into your diet year round.
Benefits of Brussel Sprouts
- Great source of anti-oxidants which offer protection from prostate, colon, prostate and endometrial cancers.
- Excellent source of vitamin C which protects the body by trapping harmful free radicals
- Excellent source of Vitamin A which is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for acuity of vision.
- Also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
- Zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid in sprouts, is selectively absorbed into the eyes where it is thought to provide anti-oxidant and protective light-filtering functions from UV rays. Thus, it helps prevent retinal damage, age related macular degeneration disease in the elderly.
Uses: You can try roasting these with a little maple syrup and bacon or with Apples, walnuts, and blue cheese. Serve with a light tomato sauce, grated pecorino, and fresh basil. You can use these in salads by lightly blanching the leaves and add with your favourite designer greens.
Stay tuned for some great recipes that include these super foods.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Maple and Bacon
Shaking Beef with Wok Fried Chard, Shitake Mushrooms, and Rice Noodles (Thit Bo Luc Lac)
Have you tried any of these foods? What is your favourite way to eat them?
About the Author: Travis Rea is a personal chef who uses local, natural and sustainable foods and lives in Langley, BC. He also owns a consulting business, Feed The Fire, which helps people live healthier and counsels athletes on their nutritional needs. See more of his recipes and advice on his Facebook page.