Sure, everyone raves about the foliage. But frankly, we’re freaking out about the colorful vegetables that are in season right now. Beyond being highly Instagram-able, fall veggies encourage us to ‘eat the rainbow’: “When you’re consuming a variety of colorful foods,” says Emily Navarro, RDN, senior manager of health and wellness for Freshly, “you’re also consuming a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to support overall health.” Orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, for example, may have cancer-fighting properties, while purple ones, like beets, are supportive of heart health.
See how we put new, tasty spins on some of our favorite fall superfoods:
Whether yellow or purple, beets are are chock full of nutrients like folate, potassium, and vitamin C and can help lower blood pressure and support healthy circulation. Forget the canned, lifeless versions—we like to roast them to bring out their sweet, earthy flavor. First, rinse and trim the leafy tops (which are also edible!). Wrap each beet loosely in foil and cook in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, rub the skin off with your hands (use gloves to avoid purple fingers) or use a paper towel. Serve over a salad, or blend into hummus for a brighter version of the classic dip. To sneak veggies into your morning routine, blend about a half cup of cooked beets into your regular berry smoothie.
Heirloom carrots are anything but basic–and they come in a variety of colors during the fall, including yellow, orange, and purple (code for carotenoids, lutein, and anthocyanins). To elevate ordinary roasted carrots, finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of za’atar, a trendy Middle Eastern spice blend of sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, and sumac. Feeling adventurous? Use the leafy carrot tops in a pesto for a fresh, clean flavor and spoon over top.
Move over zoodles! Spiralized butternut squash noodles make a nutrient-rich swap for regular pasta. This colorful pasta alternative is higher in phytonutrients like beta-carotene (aka vitamin A) and has 60% less carbs than regular spaghetti. To give roasted squash a spicy kick, season it with chili powder and a pinch of cayenne, and serve as a side topped with dried cranberries. Repurpose leftovers on a bed of arugula for a quick weeknight salad, or mix with black beans and serve with a squeeze of lime and corn tortillas on taco Tuesday.
A colorful alternative to a traditional baked or mashed potato, sweet potatoes boast more vitamin A, and extra fiber. Usually, they’re served as a dinner side or cut up into fries, but we like incorporating them into breakfast. Make sweet potato hash brown waffles using 2 cups grated sweet potatoes (or partially thaw and drain the frozen kind), add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spices like garlic powder, paprika, or cayenne. Cook in a hot waffle iron lightly coated with butter or oil for about 12 minutes, or until crisp. Serve with eggs, avocado, and a side of greens for a balanced, filling breakfast.
Each of our new fall seasonal meals features one of these veggies: Fall Chicken and Root Veggies, Chicken and Rice Pilaf with Fall-Spiced Carrots, Butternut Squash Risotto, Turkey and Mushroom Meatballs