Column: Fall Vegetables – Look Out, Here They Come!
By Julia Chiappetta
Hello to my readers! I missed you over the summer while I took a three-month break, and my hope is that you are feeling hopeful, energized and blessed.
Summer is officially over next weekend and, although I will miss the lazy, long days, I am grateful and excited for the array of colorful, nutrient-packed vegetables that fall ushers in. Right now, I am planning my soups, side dishes, juices and salads, all with a bit of heat and fall flair.
Last weekend I visited my friend David Drenckhahn, at his amazing, secret garden on Valley Road and, as we walked the expanse of his beautiful and quite special property, we took in the last of his tomatoes summer flowers. He showed me the fall blossoms, his butternut squash, pumpkins and array of apple trees. I promised to return when the apples were ready to pick and have my mom bake him some of her sought-after apples pies. I thank David for that hour of serenity and grounding in his fertile soil.
From September to November, the autumn harvest brings healthy and delicious produce like squash, sweet potatoes, pears, cranberries and crispy apples. All of these offer vitamins and antioxidants that help our bodies heal, stay strong and ward off illness. Green vegetables are always a good choice, however, I am excited about adding in the cruciferous family, consisting of cabbage, rutabaga and cauliflower, along with broccoli, peas and salad greens for some yummy meals.
Here is a list to consider on your next visit to the farmer’s market, and please, please, please, always purchase organic:
Sweet, crunchy and available year round yet somehow associated with fall. They are packed with antioxidants and flavonoids which are healing to our bodies. Did you know that there are 7,500 different types of apples! Chop them for salads or bake some wonderful pies.
At their best in the fall, with colors of red, purple, golden, white and even multicolored. Don’t discard the greens for they are loaded with nutrients and a compound called betaine, which helps soothe the liver and heart. I juice the greens for an added punch to my morning green drink or toss them in my salad.
Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage
Consider these two that offer a great source of vitamins A & C. Brussels sprouts are also high in concentrations of cancer-fighting glucosinolates, which also give them their distinct flavor.
The harvest in October brings out the best in these sweet treats. I like to buy the dried, unsweetened ones to add to salads and side dishes. They are often associated with Thanksgiving, but give them a try more often. They help with urinary tract and oral infections.
I really like the choices here from the European to Asian varieties, with Bosc and Bartlett being the most common that I see. Pears are high in soluble fiber which may help in lowering “bad cholesterol.”
These always fascinate me because they look like a big orange peach with leaves on top. Most are imported from Asia and they should ripen at room temperature before eating for their fiber, antioxidants, and minerals.
This sweet fruit, held sacred by some ancient religions, has health benefits, recognized more recently with some popular juices. Studies suggest that their antioxidants may reduce cardiovascular complications and offer prevention of breast and colon cancers.
They offer one of the best sources of alpha- and beta-carotene which help with cell growth and the seeds are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help with high blood pressure and colon cleansing.
Rutabagas and Turnips
These root vegetables always look odd and bumpy, but they make up for that in fiber and nutrients. Also, like beets, the greens are a good source of calcium.
Part of the gourd family with good levels of vitamins A, E and B6. A great fall soup – add some sliced apples or pear for added taste.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and a good source of vitamin C. Always eat the skin for extra nutrients and about 4 grams of fiber.
With fall fast approaching, don’t be afraid try some new fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised at how good they taste while adding new dimension to your meals.
As always, try a yummy green juice for the nutrient-packed fuel it provides to promote energy and healing to our bodies. Combine that with some old-fashioned, down to earth soul food – helping someone in need, sharing hugs at random, sending love through your smile to a stranger you pass, or surprising an elderly neighbor who might be alone with flowers and conversation. Love and encouragement are ALWAYS the answer. I am sending love to all of you.
Julia Chiappetta is the author of “Breast Cancer: The Notebook” (Gemini Media, 2006) and is also the owner of Julia Chiappetta Consulting. She lives in Cos Cob.