Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Insiders Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: Autumn Produce: A Feast for the Senses. Sylvia Emberger, Ahold USA. Fruits And Veggies More Matters.org

As autumn arrives, we celebrate the harvest with festivals and give thanks for the bounty of produce. In certain parts of the country, we marvel at the foliage, take walks in the woods or streets covered with fallen leaves and put on our cozy sweaters to keep warm. We crave apple cider and pumpkin pie because we’ve waited all year for them and now’s the time to purchase and prepare autumn produce to take advantage of peak flavor and lower prices.

While shopping for seasonal produce, consider how the sights, sounds and aromas surrounding us create a unique experience that characterizes autumn and increases our enjoyment of each and every bite.

Sight – The flaming golds, oranges and reds of autumn fruits and vegetables match the color of autumn leaves and the blazing fire of a chimenea or fireplace. Capture the glow by roasting carrots or squash in the oven. Sprinkle with herbs such as oregano or cumin to add a spark of flavor. Your vision will also benefit from the beta-carotene in these orange vegetables!

Sound – Munching on a crisp apple echoes the sounds of a walk through crunchy fallen leaves. After raking the yard, enjoy slices of fresh apple sprinkled with cinnamon for a post-exercise snack that provides natural sweetness, fiber and antioxidants.

Touch – Encourage kids to feel the bumpy texture of a pumpkin, the veined skin of cabbage or the rough peel of a potato. Play a game by hiding produce in a bag and having kids guess the fruit or vegetable by touching it. Feel the warmth of a soup or stew that includes autumn vegetables.

Smell – Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger are the smells that remind us of autumn. These spicy aromas fill your home when you bake or cook and you get to enjoy them a second time when you eat the finished product. Highlight the spicy aroma of pears with a dash of cloves. Nutmeg and ginger are essential to pumpkin desserts!

Taste – This sense can be expanded further into sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts provide a wonderful combination of bitter and sweet that balances salty toppings such as toasted bread crumbs or cheese. Add the sour taste of fresh cranberries to breads, muffins or turkey stuffing for an exciting burst of flavor.

A recipe that will delight your senses …

Roasted Butternut Squash
Makes 4 1-cup servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

    • 2 lbs fresh butternut squash
    • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and threads (you can discard the threads and roast seeds along with squash). Cut squash into large chunks. Drizzle with oil and rub to coat evenly. Sprinkle with cumin, cinnamon and pepper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Serve roasted squash as a side dish or remove rind and mash flesh.

Per serving: 120 calories, 4 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g protein.

Sylvia Emberger, RD, LDN
Corporate Nutritionist
Ahold USA

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