The new fall season isn’t just a chance to explore seasonal fall foods, but it’s also a chance to boost your immune system with vital nutrients and antioxidants in local, seasonal produce. “Variety is not only the spice of life; it’s also the way to a healthier, more nutritious diet,” explains Rutgers. “When different produce is available throughout each season, it encourages you to try an assortment of fruits and vegetables, rather than eating the same few, day after day. The greater the variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, the greater the variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients you eat.”
The following three recipes are the perfect way to introduce some new fall foods into your diet, and support your wellness as you ease into the fall season (and also cold and flu season!).
1. Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie
The vibrant colors of the pumpkin don’t just make it a perfect fall decor piece, but that orange hue also means pumpkins are high in vitamin A (nearly three times your daily needs!) and other immune-strengthening antioxidants.
Celebrate fall foods with this pumpkin-infused smoothie, which invites you to think beyond the pumpkin pie and the pumpkin spice latte. Not only is it bursting with holiday flavors, but it’s also high in protein, fiber and probiotics. Plus, while it tastes sweet, much of its natural sweetness comes from the pumpkin itself (no guilt!).
1 frozen banana
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
1/2 cup dairy or plant-based milk
2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup ice cubes
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Crisp Apple Salad
The crispness of the delicate greens pairs nicely with the juicy weight of the apples for a refreshing, hearty and delicious meal or appetizer. The apples, picked at peak ripeness in the fall, are very high in immune-supporting nutrients like vitamin C, while the fruit supports gut health with lots of prebiotic fiber (i.e. pectin).
Don’t forget the secret ingredient: walnuts. These healthy nuts give your salad a nice crunch, and they’re also a rich source in plant-based omega-3s. These healthy fats are good for your immune system, your hormone health, and even your cognition and brain health.
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups baby spinach
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 apple cored and sliced
⅓ cup cheddar shredded
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
Plate the salad by assembling all the salad ingredients, tossing gently, then drizzling with the dressing.
3. Fast Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant is one of the most versatile fall foods out there, lending itself well to all types of cooking and recipes. Here, it starts in a plant-based “chicken parmesan,” where the eggplant substitutes the chicken. Its meaty texture soaks up all the spices and flavors, and every bite gets you lots of plant-based antioxidants that researchers say may reduce your risks of stroke, heart disease, and even cancer.
2 large eggplant, cut into thin rounds
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup almond or oat milk
1 1/2 cups panko (i.e., Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided into two equal portions
3 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 28-oz can of marinara sauce (ideally unsweetened)
2 large balls of mozzarella cheese, patted dry and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, brush the eggplant slices with salt and let it rest for 10 minutes. The salt will draw out a lot of the excess moisture in the eggplant to keep it from having a slimy texture. Pat the eggplant with paper towels to wipe away the water.
In a bowl, whisk the almond or oat milk with the eggs.
In a second bowl, add the panko, half of the Parmesan cheese, and all the spices.
Dip an eggplant round in the egg-and-milk mixture, then dip it in the breadcrumb mix to coat it evenly. Place it onto a greased baking sheet and repeat for all the eggplant.
Bake the eggplant for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
In a baking dish, spread some marinara sauce, add the baked eggplant, add the rest of the marinara sauce, then top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan and broil in your oven for a couple of minutes.
Garnish with the basil leaves and enjoy!
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