One of the really fun parts of what I do for a living is experimenting with food. In the past few years, I’ve really embraced the idea of seasonal eating. When foods are in season, they have potent therapeutic properties. There is nothing like giving your health an extra boost when you harmonize with the rhythms of nature.
This is the seasonal produce I’ll be experimenting with this Fall:
Fennel – The delicate anise or licorice flavor of fennel pairs well in salads or soups and is easily juiced. Fennel tends to turn bitter in warmer weather and is best in the fall through early spring. Vitamin C is fennel’s most important nutritional contribution, but it also contains potassium and folate and dietary fiber. Together these work to prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol, resist infection, slow down cellular aging, lower blood pressure, and cleanse the colon. I have two fennel salad options for you: citrus and fennel salad with rosewater and roasted kale and fennel salad with creamy avocado dressing!
Pumpkin – It should definitely not be relegated for pies and sweet casseroles! Take it a step further and try toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkins oils for added nutritional benefits, like lycopene and carotenoids that diminish cancer cells, lower hypertension, decrease risk of heart disease, reduce cellular aging, and are particularly beneficial for men’s prostate health. One serving can provide a days worth of vitamin A, high vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, copper, riboflavin, and manganese. Pumpkins seeds contain tryptophan, which helps you relax and sleep well! Try my gluten free pumpkin muffins recipe here for a morning or night snack!
Beets & Beet Greens – They are good for your brain, blood, and eyes! Don’t forget to eat the greens attached to the tops. They are edible, delicious, and categorized in the leafy green vegetable section just like kale or spinach. Beets are filled with antioxidants and are extremely high in vitamin A and have good amounts of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Beet greens contain more iron than spinach and are actually better for you than the beet root! Beet root’s boost immune system, and fight cancer causing free radicals. Plus they are great for your eyes! Whip up two beet soups using these recipes here or try out my beet-ginger dressing recipe for any type of salad.
Broccoli Sprouts and Broccoli Leaf – These nutritional powerhouses grow year-round, but are more sweet, less bitter and sharp when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall. Broccoli sprouts are potent cancer preventers (way more so than broccoli!). Broccoli leaf is now available at Whole Foods stores and provides 100% of your daily recommendation of vitamin C in a serving, as well as vitamins A and K with folate and potassium. You can juice it, sauté, serve as a salad base, add in soups or use as a wrap.
Brussels Sprouts – They contain the sulfur compound glucosinolates, which activates cancer fighting enzyme systems in your body. They have been researched for prevention of several cancers – and contain more of this cancer fighting enzyme then cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. Add brussels sprouts into your day with my brussels sprouts slaw with hazelnuts and dates!
Figs -They have a short second season in late fall (the first harvest comes in summer) just in time for Thanksgiving. Figs are high in fiber, and their nutritional content increases when they’re dried. Figs have been used in traditional medicine to relieve sore throats and to use on warts and wounds. Research shows figs to be beneficial in decreasing risk for some cancers, most specifically breast cancer. Check out my tasty fig recipe here!
Horseradish – It’s at its best in fall and winter, horseradish is a great digestive aid. It helps detoxify the liver and blood and it also promotes the flow of bile, an integral part of the digestive process. Horseradish root is used as an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory that also boosts the immune system. You can juice horseradish, use in pickling, or add into sauces and side dishes or serve as a condiment. Check out my Immunity Juice @ Erewhon.
Kohlrabi – It comes into season by the end of fall, but stays at its sweet best into winter. Kohlrabi is in the cabbage family and is an excellent source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Kahlrabi can be used to stabilize blood sugar levels and is useful in treating candida and viral infections. Most importantly it contains many phytochemicals useful for cancer prevention, including glucosinolates that detoxify toxins in the liver. You can eat raw for a nice crunch, add to soups, grate and add to fritters or slaw, roast, or steam.
Parsnips – These winter veggies look like white carrots and have a great nutty flavor. Look for thinner parsnips, since fatter ones tend to have a thick, woody core you need to cut out. Parsnips are a great source of dietary fiber, as well as vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin E, as well as an assortment of B-vitamins. Insufficient levels of folate is linked to birth defects and increased cancer risks. Try my veggie fritters recipe here!
Tomatillos – These offer a plethora of compounds including iron, magnesium, niacin, and copper and vitamins A, C, and K – but, the most important nutrient compound in tomatillo is “withanolides”. This compound contains cancer-fighting properties that is even stronger than certain chemotherapys, the compound is antibacterial and is the same compound traditional Indian healers used to prescribe for arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Nutrition research is confirming all the time what many ancient practices have known for years and that is – Food can be medicine. And like many types of medicines, food is the most beneficial when it’s the freshest and in season.
There is nothing better than enjoying a cornicopia of fresh, healthy and vibrant produce with your friends and family this holiday season!