By: Debra Chase
The weather is beginning to get a little bit cooler, the farmer’s market is starting to wind down, and yet the superfoods at the market are heating up. Hitting their peak this fall, these amazing superfoods are the perfect excuse to get cooking on cool nights! Fight disease, boost your energy and slim your waistline with these fresh, local superfoods.
Sweet or tart, red, pink or green, apples are a satisfying fruit. There a number of varieties to choose from, just be sure to eat the skin as it contains heart-healthy flavonoids. Flavonoids are an interesting group of phytonutrients or plant chemicals that can be found in almost all fruits and vegetables. In conjunction with carotenoids, they make up the vivid colors in fruits and vegetables. Apples are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and have four grams of dietary fiber per serving. The best way to eat apples is raw. Try them sliced into wedges, sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with a few drops of maple syrup.
Brussels sprouts are those little green balls that resemble a teeny tiny cabbage. They have a mild, somewhat bitter taste, and are best steamed until just tender then tossed with a dash or two of savory balsamic vinegar. The health benefits of these little green gems include: vitamin K, folate and iron. They have also been known to have more glucosinolates, (Compounds that combat cancer), than any other vegetable.
Parsnips may resemble carrots, but they are lighter in color and sweeter, with an almost nutty flavor. They can be used to flavor rice and potatoes or added to soups and stews. Rich in potassium
and fiber these little spikes of sweet flavor are wonderful roasted with new potatoes, carrots and sweet onion.
Pomegranates are a slightly sour fruit that has received a substantial amount of press in recent years as an antioxidant powerhouse. The juice provides a tangy base for marinades, sauces and syrups and the seeds can be tossed into salads, rice and poultry dishes to juice up the flavor. Pomegranate juice has higher antioxidant levels than red wine and is a fabulous source of vitamin C and folate. This fruit is best eaten fresh and using a hand powered citrus juicer is the easiest way to get all the juice without the messiness of peeling and scooping the seeds. Pomegranate juice and apple juice mixed together is an easily made, refreshing drink that has no processed sugar
Walnuts are a popular crop with Yolo County farmers and cooks. Just seven whole walnuts provide three times the daily dose of alpha-linolenic acid: an omega three fat that has been shown to improve memory and coordination. Tossed into salads, baked into pies or sprinkled on oatmeal, walnuts are a flavorful versatile nut..
The California avocado season draws to a close in October, yet this fruit is easily frozen for future meals when a summer treat can take the winter blahs away. Scoop the flesh out of the skin, spray with lemon juice and pack into airtight containers for freezing well into the winter season. Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid. They also act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. Slather smashed avocado onto whole grain toast and serve it with a fresh green smoothie for a super start to the day.
All of these foods satisfy hunger with minimal calories so it’s not surprising that they can be part of a healthy diet that promotes weight loss. For instance, it has been noted that people who eat apples may be less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Along with essential nutrients, all of these superfoods have healing properties. Unlike supplements that aren’t always digestible, or have the same consistent potency, fresh and healthy superfoods happen to have a natural delivery mechanism that is perfect for getting all of the healing compounds into the body — they are the whole package, real unprocessed food, no artificial ingredients, bad fats or useless processed sugar. Just more of the good stuff that the body can easily and effortlessly break down to extract nutrients with precision, while satisfying hunger.