Michelle Zitt Brooks, MS, RD, is the Registered Dietitian in the UCSD Recreation Department. She is available for presentations, individual and group consultations, and more. Contact her at email@example.com.
Regardless of what the weather is doing here in San Diego, Fall is the season, and the aroma of pumpkin spice is in the air. Certain foods just put everyone into the autumn mood, and lucky for us, some of them pack quite a nutritional punch. Check out these powerhouse ingredients that take center stage once we enter into the three-syllable months.
- Pumpkin: This variety of winter squash is brimming with beta-carotene, which promotes skin and eye health and bolters immunity. Use the flesh to add richness and moisture to baked goods, soups, and stews. Get even more benefits by roasting and munching on the seeds, which contain protein, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
- Cinnamon: This warming spice is surprisingly rich in vitamin K, iron, calcium, and manganese. Beyond adding flavor, it combats oxidative damage, stimulates the metabolism, and tricks the taste buds into tasting “sweetness” without added sugar. Try it with yogurt, in coffee, or with roasted sweet potatoes.
- Chili: This stew can be made a million ways, but its bean base is what makes it rich in fiber, protein, and iron. Add chopped tomatoes and bell pepper for a dose of vitamin C, which enhances iron absorption from the beans.
- Cranberries: These tart berries are bursting with vitamin C, fiber and manganese, and combat cancer, inflammation, and infections. For a fresh take on chunky cranberry sauce, use a blender to combine cranberries, sweet apple, pineapple, orange, and a handful of pecans.
- Pear: This voluptuous fruit is plump with fiber, copper, and flavonols, which help to protect against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Pair pears with winter greens, toasted walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and a Dijon vinaigrette for a sensational salad.
- Fennel: This feathery-leaved friend is crunchy and sweet, with a mild licorice flavor. The seeds are famous for tea, but the bulb and leaves contribute vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, which confer benefits through cardio-protection, immune-enhancement, and cancer-prevention. Slice fennel and toss with avocado chunks and orange wedges for a delightful combination.
- Persimmon: Boasting an impressive amount of vitamins A and C, this golden-orange fruit is mouth-puckeringly tart if eaten before ripeness. Pick tender fruits, cut into wedges, wrap with prosciutto, and roast until tender for a sweet and savory treat.
Embrace the season with good nutrition!