6 in-season fruit & vegetable winners

’Tis the season! Holiday foods (pies, latkes, cookies, etc.) aren’t exactly paragons of healthy eating. Sigh.

But these fruits and veggies that show up for the fall and winter season are winners. Here’s why…and how to enjoy them. Each recipe serves 4.


Sweet potatoes

It’s hard to find a food with more beta-carotene (which our bodies convert to vitamin A) and potassium.

Tip: In the mood for a potato? Think orange. Even without the skin, sweets have twice the fiber of white potatoes.

Simple Mashed Sweets
Using a fork, pierce the skin of 2 or 3 sweet potatoes or yams (about 2 lbs.) in a few places. Microwave (or bake in a 375°F oven for 45–60 minutes) until very tender. Scoop out the flesh and mash with a potato masher or purée in a food processor. Season with up to ¼ tsp. salt.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Total fat: 7 g
  • Sat fat: 0.5 g
  • Carbs: 14 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Total sugar: 6 g 
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 220 mg

Brussels sprouts

Hello, vitamins C and K, fiber, lutein, potassium, folate, and magnesium! Brussels are hardworking little cabbage lookalikes.

Tip: Shred the Brussels sprouts for this recipe in a food processor—use the grating or shredding disk—or grab a bag of pre-shredded (aka “shaved”) sprouts.

Lemon Parmesan Brussels
Stir-fry 10 oz. (4 cups) shredded Brussels sprouts in 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil until crisp-tender and browned in places, 2−3 minutes. Season with 1/8 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. lemon zest, and ¼ cup shaved parmesan.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Total fat: 9 g
  • Sat fat: 2 g
  • Carbs: 7 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Total sugar: 2 g 
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 220 mg

Persimmons

Their vibrant orange hue is a clue: There’s that vitamin A again…plus C and fiber.

Tip: Acorn-shaped Hachiya persimmons (front) taste astringent until they’re very ripe—that is, until they feel super soft to the touch. Save ’em for snacking. Use firmer, rounder Fuyus (back) for slicing into salads.

Persimmon & Pecan Salad
Whisk together 1 Tbs. white balsamic or wine vinegar, ½ tsp. honey, ¼ tsp. salt, and 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. Toss with 5 oz. baby arugula or kale and 1 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmon, cut into thin wedges. Top with ¼ cup toasted pecans or walnuts and (optional) ¼ cup feta or goat cheese.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 140
  • Total fat: 11 g
  • Sat fat: 2.5 g
  • Carbs: 11 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Total sugar: 7 g
  • Added sugar: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 240 mg

Pomegranates

They’re fiber-rich sparkling gems. Toss the ruby seeds with yogurt, salads, cereal, or overnight oats. The folate and vitamins C and K are a bonus.

Tip: Pluck the seeds from your pomegranate in a bowlful of water (google it) to stop them from flying or spraying juice.

Sparkling Quinoa Salad
Whisk together 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar, and ¼ tsp. salt. Toss with 2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa, ¼ cup chopped mint and/or parsley leaves, 2 peeled and sliced clementines, and ½ cup pomegranate seeds.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 210
  • Total fat: 9 g
  • Sat fat: 1 g
  • Carbs: 28 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Total sugar: 7 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Sodium: 150 mg

Pumpkins

Forget sugary pumpkin spice lattes. Eat the real thing…and pile on the nutrients (see sweet potatoes).

Tip: Smaller, more flavorful sugar or pie pumpkins are best for roasting. (No pumpkins around? Try butternut squash.) Use canned pumpkin purée in sauces and soups.

Roasted Spiced Pumpkin
Halve 1 small pumpkin, remove the seeds, and cut into wedges. Toss with 2 Tbs. safflower or sunflower oil, 2 tsp. curry powder, and ¼ tsp. salt. Roast in a 400°F oven until tender, 20−30 minutes. Add any leftovers to salads or grains.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Total fat: 7 g
  • Sat fat: 0.5 g
  • Carbs: 14 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Total sugar: 6 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 150 mg

Rutabagas & turnips

Their nutrients don’t measure up to, say, kale, but when you want a root veg on the lighter side, try these guys. They’ve got less than half the calories of white potatoes and a distinctive tang (turnips) or a touch of sweet (rutabagas).

Tip: Try using a serrated vegetable peeler on their thick skin.

Roasted Roots & Fruits
Peel and chop into chunks 1 lb. rutabagas and/or turnips and 2 apples. Toss with 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil and ¼ tsp. salt. Roast in a 425°F oven until lightly browned and tender, 20−30 minutes, stirring halfway.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 140
  • Total fat: 7 g
  • Sat fat: 1 g
  • Carbs: 20 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Total sugar: 14 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 160 mg

Photos: PublicDomainPictures/pixabay.com (top). stock.adobe.com: mates, supamas, eqroy, Viktar Malyshchyts, sarahdoow, Enlightened Media.

The information in this post first appeared in the November 2021 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.


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