Fall Foods that Give Back: Festive foods of the season “give back” for better health

By Katie Zampini

Many of the season’s favorite foods are not only festive and delicious, but are also packed with nutrition. In particular, the foods discussed below are easy to add into your everyday recipes for nutritional value and a delicious, seasonal twist. Read below to discover the health benefits of these fall-time “super foods” and to learn some ideas for adding them to your repertoire.

Cinnamon:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service has studied the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar and other related concerns. They found that dramatic improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides could be seen in people consuming roughly one half of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day. This is good news for anyone with insulin resistance, including people suffering from diabetes as well as women who may struggle with insulin resistance related infertility.

Try adding more cinnamon to your day by mixing it into your coffee, cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt, as well as in seasonal desserts!

Winter Squash:

The name “winter squash” applies to many types of squash enjoyed this time of year (acorn, butternut, etc.). All squash is similar in its high fiber content, low caloric impact, and valuable antioxidants, which are known to help prevent cancers and chronic diseases. Some squash varieties, like butternut squash, are very high in potassium, a nutrient that has been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure. The high Vitamin C content of squash, combined with its antioxidant punch, makes it a powerful immunity boosting choice in the cold and flu season.

To prepare almost any squash, slice in half, drizzle with olive oil and cinnamon, and bake at 425 until soft. Squash can be pureed and served as a side dish, or used in a soup by adding sautéed onion, garlic, vegetable stock, and milk.

Pumpkin:

The more you learn about the health benefits of this quintessential symbol of the season, the more you will seek to include it in your diet. On a very basic level, pumpkin is very low in calories and high in fiber, meaning that you get a lot of filling goodness without much of a caloric dent in your day. Pumpkin is also naturally high in an antioxidant called beta-carotene (which is actually what gives it its orange color). This antioxidant may reduce cell damage in the body, while also fighting off chronic diseases and supporting the health of the prostate and eyes. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

See the recipe for a Vegan Pumpkin Pie Latte for an easy way to add pumpkin to your morning coffee!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Latte

Serves: 2

Hands on Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2-cups strong coffee
  • 2-cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 6-tablespoons pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 2 to 4- packet(s) of stevia
  • ½ -teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ – teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-tablespoon coconut oil (yes, coconut oil!)

Brew a strong cup of coffee. While brewing, combine next six ingredients over low heat in a small saucepan, whisking ingredients until fully combined and fragrant. Do not let it boil. Taste and adjust your mixture before moving forward.

Carefully pour brewed coffee and the almond milk mixture into a blender. Add coconut oil and blend on high speed for five seconds until the coffee becomes frothy and lighter in color.

Pour your latte into a mug, top with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, and serve warm!

What “Gives Back” in this Latte?

When it comes to nutrition, it’s not always about what isn’t in a recipe (in this case, dairy), but about what is in it. While dairy provides our bodies with calcium, protein, and vitamins, American diets are typically full of dairy and less bountiful in plant-based foods. The almond milk in this latte provides an even better source of calcium without the grams of sugar found in nonfat milk. Your body will also benefit from the pumpkin, cinnamon, and coconut oil.