There pretty much seems to be a consensus that Fall is the best season of the year—not to play favorites or anything. For some, the mild temperatures and the crisp air are the top perk. While others simply love the fact that football is back in season, and so are flannels.
But this season wouldn’t be complete without the fall classics: Soups and chili, squash varieties, pumpkin-flavored everything; and of course, apples (dipped in caramel, baked into pies and stuffed with cinnamon and granola).
But it isn’t just the deliciousness of these seasonal staples that earn them their reputation. In fact, some may even call a few of them—namely butternut squash, Brussel sprouts and apples—amazing superfoods.
Here are 3 surprisingly easy ways to enjoy all of the best flavors of fall:
1. Butternut Squash:
"Cheap and versatile, this sweet and nutty squash is loaded with fiber and vitamin A—457% of your recommended daily value, to be exact," notes Sangita Sharma, MD, a primary care provider at the new Northside Grayson Health Center. "This important nutrient helps with everything from supporting cell growth and eye health, to immune health and bone health."
For an easy butternut squash mash: Cut the squash in half, discard the seeds and roast for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Scoop out the flesh and mash with olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary, grated Pecorino cheese and salt.
2. Brussels Sprouts:
"As a member of the cruciferous veggie family, Brussels sprouts are rich vitamins C and K, providing 137% of your recommended daily value," explains Dr. Sharma. "These nutrients essential for bone health, as well as immune health and blood health—specifically, your body’s ability to absorb iron.
For easy roasted Brussels sprouts: Cut Brussels sprouts in half and saute with some olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until lightly browned. Then bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for eight to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and chopped hazelnuts.
"Apples are absolutely loaded with fiber, vitamin C and phytonutrients, which similar to antioxidants," says Dr. Sharma, "all of these nutrients are found in the flesh and skin of an apple." Plus, they don't contain any fat, sodium or cholesterol. "Thanks to all of these vitamins and minerals, regularly enjoying apples can help to prevent heart disease, asthma, type 2 diabetes, even cancer," emphasizes Dr. Sharma.
Easy-As-Pie Baked Apples:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, raisins or prunes
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 Gala or Macintosh apples
- 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
- 2 tablespoons orange liquor (optional)
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, walnuts, raisins, oats, butter and cinnamon to make a filling.
Using a grapefruit spoon with sharp edges, a melon baller or a small paring knife, core most of the way through each apple, leaving about 1/2-inch at the bottom. Spoon the filling into the center of each apple and place the apples in the slow cooker. Pour the apple juice or cider and the liquor, if using, into the slow cooker around the apples.
Set the slow cooker on high heat and cook 2-1/2 to 3 hours until the apples are soft and begin to collapse. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
Note: If you don't have a slow cooker, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, use a 7-by-11-inch casserole dish and add ingredients as described above. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 to 60 minutes.
Fall Back Into Good Health
With all of the wonderful aspects the Fall season has to offer, healthy habits seem to come a lot easier. A walk outside? Sure. Eating seasonal produce? You bet. Getting ample sleep? Done. Scheduling an appointment with your primary care provider? Refreshingly easy. With the new Northside Grayson Health Center, you can enjoy health care that fits every aspect of your life—your family, your schedule and your health. To learn more about the new center opening in Grayson this Fall, visit northside.com/grayson.