Despite my deep affection for those dark red Maple leaves, infinity scarves and boots, fall foods furiously favour my flavours. See what I did there? Sorry… Anyways… Fall is one of the best times to utilize hearty root vegetables that offer countless health benefits. I’ve pulled together some really amazing tastes, but first, let’s go over just what to pick up at your grocer.
One of my top picks is without a doubt spaghetti squash. Not only is it fat free and low in carbs, but it’s the perfect substitute for pasta. Take your favourite tomato sauce and toss it all together, it’s light and delicious. Cooking is simple, simply cut the squash in half, length wise, coat lightly with the oil of your choice (but that’s optional) and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper, roast at 400 for about 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you can scrape away the flesh with a fork and it removes like strands of spaghetti. This gem is a great source of Vitamin C, about 10% of your daily intake in 1 cup. On top of these natural vitamins, flavonoids found in plant foods play a critical role alongside their natural vitamins to protect the body from cancer.
Roasted butternut squash is probably the best and most versatile of the fall staples. It’s closest relative is the pumpkin, however it probably wouldn’t look as good carved. Possibly one of the best Vitamin A provider, this anti-oxidant driven plant helps maintain skin and mucus membranes. Homing B-carotenes, cryptoxanthin-B and lutein compounds entice vitamin A and can protect the body against lung and oral cancers. Even better, B-complex vitamins are stored here, alongside iron, zinc and calcium. Cut the squash length wise, season with salt and pepper and cook at 400 for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. I like to add ground cinnamon and dried chili flakes to mine. Once cooked, let the squash cook and remove the inside flesh from the skin with a spoon. You can dice and rebake the pieces, or toss them in a processor with other roasted veggies and make a delicious and easy soup. I’ll toss you some recipes for those soon enough, don’t worry.
Not quite from the tree, the acorn squash is mellow, sweeter tasting and pairs well with maple, garlic or nutmeg. Half a cup of cooked, cubed acorn squash provides 20% recommended daily vitamin C intake, helping prevent hypertension, hearty disease, cancer and osteoarthritis. Rich in potassium and magnesium, this squash doubles as an electrolyte, playing a vital role in maintaining natural body water balance, strengthening bones and teeth and metabolism. Cut only before cooking, in halves, roast at 400 for about 25 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Season with salt, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon.
What is your go-to squash? What about your favourite recipe? It’s easy to let our healthy eating habits falter once that colder weather hits, but if you know what to do with these hearty vegetables, you’re fall will be fool-proof.