With the change of weather, comes a change in seasonal foods. Gone are the fresh strawberries and watermelon and in comes the pumpkins and apples. Here are five foods that should be on your seasonal plate in order to keep you healthy this fall.
If you love pasta but not the 220 calories per cup that it dishes out, try substituting spaghetti squash. This low-calorie (40 calories per cup), high-fiber (2 grams per cup) squash is the only variety that is transformed into a spaghetti-like texture after it is cooked. Once cooked, you scrape out the meat of the squash using a fork in order to get a spaghetti consistency. This Spaghetti Squash with Tomato-Basil Sauce is a mere 133 calorie per cup, even with the grated cheese topping.
At only 100 calories each, pears are a sweet way to add some soluble fiber to your breakfast. A heart-healthy diet that contains soluble fiber has been shown to help lower your blood cholesterol levels. While many people start the day with oats to reduce their cholesterol, a medium pear actually has about the same amount of soluble fiber. Enjoy a pear, sliced, along with an ounce of reduced fat cheddar cheese to start your day, or even better, along with your oatmeal.
If you need to lower your blood pressure, look to potassium-rich sweet potatoes. While a diet rich in potassium can help negate some of the blood pressuring-rising effects of dietary sodium, many Americans are falling short of their daily needs. Sweet potatoes are potassium powerhouses as they provide 20 percent of an adult’s Daily Value. Try this Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup to help ladle some potassium into your diet.
As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower contains glucosinolates, which break down to several compounds in the body that may help fight certain cancers. Whether steamed, baked or roasted, a cup of cooked cauliflower makes a perfect seasonal side dish and can also be pureed and used to make creamy soups without the fatty cream. This creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup is less than 90 calories a cup and will keep you warm and healthy when the temperature falls.
With daylight getting shorter and darkness coming earlier, your exposure to sunlight and the ability to make bone-strengthening vitamin D in the body during the fall is shortened. Mushrooms are one of the very few foods that contain ergosterol, a compound that, when exposed to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun during the growing process, can be converted to small amounts of vitamin D. Research has uncovered that this conversion can be increased by exposing the mushrooms to additional UV light during processing. When portobello mushrooms were exposed to an additional 10 to 15 seconds of UV light, their vitamin D content increased from a mere 17 International Units (IU) to 634 IU per cup. Look for mushrooms in the supermarket with a sticker on the label that tells you that they have been treated to increase their vitamin D content. Since most adults should be consuming 600 IU daily of vitamin D, a Stuffed Portobello Mushroom can be a vitamin D-rich way to enjoy a meatless meal.
Follow Joan on Twitter at: joansalgeblake