UAB Medicine News


5 Fall Veggies (Besides Pumpkin) You Should be Eating

Fall VeggiesPumpkin isn’t just an iconic fall vegetable for eating and decorating – it’s become a national obsession. Beyond homemade pumpkin pie and your favorite coffee shop’s pumpkin spice lattes, you can indulge in pumpkin-flavored gum, potato chips, cream cheese, and much more between August and November.

But by mid-fall, it’s easy to get burned out on this over-hyped flavor and forget about all of the other delicious and beneficial vegetables that are in season right now. If that’s you, just say no to the #PSL this fall and instead enjoy these nutritious, in-season alternatives.

1. Brussels Sprouts: If your parents made you eat Brussels sprouts as a kid, you might have lingering nightmares of these tiny green cabbages on your plate. But now, as an open-minded adult, it’s time to give them another  try. Brussels sprouts are highly nutritious and contain high levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants, which can lower your risk of certain diseases and help maintain optimal blood sugar levels without adding unwanted calories to your diet. Also, just one cup of Brussels sprouts contains three grams of protein.

What often gives this vegetable a bad rap is how it’s prepared. Boiling Brussels sprouts can make them mushy and even smelly. Instead, try roasting them on a baking sheet in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper sprinkled on top. You can make Brussels sprouts crispy by pan-searing and sautéing them on the stove top. Brussels sprouts taste great in dishes made with tofu and pasta or tossed into salads.

2. Artichokes: Artichokes can be intimidating, but this funny looking fall vegetable is healthy and a lot of fun once you understand how to prepare them. Artichokes are an excellent meatless source of protein, and they’re packed with fiber and antioxidants, too. In fact, research shows that artichokes are packed with more antioxidants than most other vegetables you’ll find at the store or farmers market.

The most time-consuming part of cooking with artichokes is trimming away the inedible portions to get to the good parts. But you can skip this process if you choose to steam or stuff the artichoke. It’s easy to add artichokes to a pot of boiling water or steam them, or you can get extra creative in the kitchen by grilling, baking, or roasting them. Artichokes are delicious on pizza with olives and pesto sauce, and spinach artichoke dip is always a popular appetizer at parties.

3. Turnips: Turnips are one of several root vegetables that are in season in the fall but often get passed over in favor of pumpkins. Turnips are low in calories, and just one medium-sized turnip will fuel your body with over half of the daily vitamin C it needs. They also are high in fiber, which is great if you occasionally experience inflammation or constipation.

Turnips can be peeled and eaten raw, then enjoyed with dips or tossed into salads. However, it is most common to cook turnips by roasting them. You can even mash them alongside potatoes, add sliced turnips to stew, or slice them thinly and bake to create a healthy alternative to potato chips.

4. Beets: Another fall vegetable we love is the beet, because they are colorful, festive, and healthy. Beets are low in calories and have been studied for their weight-loss potential and benefits for brain health, digestive health, and in reducing inflammation. Beets are often recommended for people who have heart conditions and who exercise frequently, because the inorganic nitrate they contain is converted to nitric oxide in the body, which is important for blood flow and cardiovascular function. Beets are also high in beta carotene, which can help you recover faster after workouts.

Depending on how you cook them, beets can be either savory or sweet, perhaps even a bit of both. Beets are incredibly versatile and can be eaten raw, made into sauces, grilled for a barbecued flavor, or made into desserts. Try pickling beets for a tangy crunch, or top roasted beets with goat cheese and hazelnuts.

5. Cauliflower: Part of the cabbage family, this vegetable is high in potassium and fiber, both of which are known to help regulate blood pressure. Cauliflower is also naturally high in vitamin C, which is beneficial for your immune system and for stimulating the body’s natural production of collagen for healthy skin.

Cauliflower works well in stir-fry dishes that combine a variety of vegetables with Asian-inspired sauces. Or you can try sautéing cauliflower on the stove top and serving it alongside grilled onions and rice. A fun way to sneak more cauliflower into your diet is to make buffalo cauliflower bites as a healthier, guilt-free alternative to buffalo chicken wings – perfect for football and tailgating parties.

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