8 Fall Superfoods To Add To Your Grocery Cart
Summer’s not the only season with a bounty of vitamin-rich fruits and veggies. Along with the changing colors of the leaves comes delicious produce packed with nutrients. Choosing a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables is best, as different nutrients exist along the different colors of the spectrum. As busy endurance athletes our weekend mornings are often filled with longer training sessions but I encourage you to make time for the farmers market and bringing home a basket full of local seasonal produce.
Apples- This simple diet staple is at its best in the Fall. They provide Vitamin C, folate and calcium. Research has also found a compound in the apple’s skin called quercetin that acts a powerful antioxidant; just be sure to buy organic apples so you aren’t getting dangerous pesticide residue. The phytonutrients in apples can help regulate your blood sugar, something super helpful when athletes are regularly consuming sugary gels and chews on long runs or rides.
Brussels Sprouts- While I steered clear of these as a kid for the past few years I just can’t get enough. Loaded with more Vitamin C than an orange, plus Vitamin K and folate, Brussels Sprouts are little nutrient powerhouses. You'll find nearly 100 studies in PubMed (the health research database at the National Library of Medicine in Washington, D.C.) that are focused on Brussels sprouts, and over half of those studies involve the health benefits of this cruciferous vegetable in relationship to cancer. Added bonus for athletes- their anti-inflammatory properties.
Chestnuts- A snack you can feel good about… yes please. These nuts provide 50% of your daily recommended B6 which plays a role in boosting your immune system. They are also full of fiber which helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. Chestnuts have a high content of the trace mineral manganese -- an antioxidant, which soaks up free radicals in the system and reduces the risk for cancer and heart disease.
Cranberries- While familiar nutrients like vitamin C and fiber play a very important role in cranberry's health benefits, it's the amazing array of phytonutrients they contain that really boost their superpowers. For the cardiovascular system and for many parts of the digestive tract (including the mouth and gums, stomach, and colon) cranberry has been shown to provide important anti-inflammatory benefits. For lowering our risk of unwanted inflammation, it's the phytonutrients in cranberry that are especially effective.
Figs- Like most other foods on this list figs are rich in fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium, giving cyclists everywhere a smaller food to carry in their back jersey pocket. Since you can’t get fresh figs al year round I recommend enjoying them while in season and even freezing some for winter smoothies and compotes.
Pomegranates- These beautiful seeds are full of antioxidants and compounds called tannins that help keep your heart healthy and lower bad cholesterol. An added bonus is the 5g of fiber per half cup. While its not yet confirmed with a vast amount of research, several studies have found that pomegranate supplementation reduced soreness and strength-loss in muscles.
Pumpkins- Not only is fall’s signature squash a perfect decorative piece, it also packs some powerful healthy perks — like keeping heart health, vision and waistlines in check, as long as you take it easy on the pumpkin pie, that is. Plant based Vitamin A (we still need animal based as well), carotenoids, fiber and beta-carotene are all found in great supply in pumpkins. They can and should be a big part of your post workout meal with 1 cup boasting 564mg of potassium.
Turnips and their Green Tops- Turnips contain a category of phytonutrients called indoles. Indoles in turnips may reduce your risk for lung and colorectal cancers. A 1-cup serving of boiled, mashed turnips contains 51 calories and provides 76mg of calcium, 21mg of magnesium and 407 mg of potassium. The same serving size also provides 26mg of vitamin C. A 1-cup serving of raw turnip greens provides 104mg of calcium, or 13 percent of your daily requirement, and 163mg of potassium and 33mg of vitamin C. Instead of working out the math on these little gems just focus on adding them to your weekly shopping list.
Fall food offerings
Fall is the perfect time to break out the Crock-Pot (or buy one) and eat warm, hearty stews, soups, grains, and roasted nuts. The lazy days of summer are soon to be long gone and our busy schedule requires convenience, simplicity and soul filling dishes. A Crock-Pot slow cooks your ingredients at a low temperature. The low temperature ensures the nutrients are not destroyed and the slow cooking unlocks those nutrients, making them easy to digest and absorb. The best part is, you can set your recipe to cook and come back when it is time to eat. Here are two tasty Fall Crock-Pot recipes that will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished.
Pumpkin & Turnip Chili (Serves 4-6)
28 ounce (1) can diced tomatoes
23 ounce (about 1) can tomato sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups raw pumpkin peeled and chopped into 1” pieces
1 cup raw parsnips cleaned and chopped into 1” pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
1 cup corn, frozen and thawed
1 lb ground beef sirloin (optional but I recommend if you eat meat, to make vegan simply sub lentils or black beans)
1 cup LOW sodium chicken broth
Roast the corn until most pieces have a dark/charred corner, either in your slow cooker, if it has that function, or on the stove top. A dry pan or pot works best. Set aside corn and brown the meat (in slow cooker or on stove stop).
Combine all ingredients in the base of your slow cooker and stir to mix well. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Serve with sliced avocado on top.
Curried Vegetable And Chickpea Stew (Serves 4)
This is a delicious vegan recipe, perfect to warm up even the coldest afternoon.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 c red or purple potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 tablespoon)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups brussels sprouts, halved
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (10-ounce) bag baby spinach
1 cup canned coconut milk
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion with one teaspoon of salt until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, and sauté until just translucent around the edges.
Stir in the curry, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in 1/4 cup of broth and scrape up any toasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer this onion-potato mixture into the bowl of a slow cooker. You may need additional liquid, add up to an extra cup vegetable broth after stirring everything together.
To the slow cooker, add the rest of the broth, chickpeas, bell pepper, cauliflower, tomatoes with their juices, pepper, and final teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine. The liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the bowl; add more broth as necessary. Cover and cook for 4 hours on HIGH.
Stir in the spinach and coconut milk. Cover with lid for a few more minutes to allow the spinach to wilt. Taste and correct the salt and other seasonings as needed.
Serve on its own or over a big bowl of kale. The steamy soup will wilt the kale perfectly.