Summer is a health paradox. It’s easy to imagine a few warm months of harvesting strawberries and devouring refreshing salads. Hell, it’s hot out. The thought of chowing down on five pounds of steamy nachos makes me sweat. But once fall makes its way in, so do some seriously unhealthy eats. The trees are colorful and vibrant and so is your plate with donuts, pie, and deep fried turkey. Before you know it your healthy summer vanishes into the budging horizon.
When does the corruption stop? A new season is a good time to adjust your diet, not abandon it. Let autumn come to your rescue. Treat your body to some hearty, healthy fall foods.
Healthy Fall Foods to Maintain Your Summer Bod
It’s a summer squash with hearty fall properties. It’s readily available and cheap, so easy to grow many farmers end up with an annual bumper crop. Zucchini is a versatile vegetable. It can be fresh, cool, and juicy on a salad, or warm and pithy like a potato when grilled or fried. Who can’t glean at least minimal comfort from a loaf of zucchini bread on a long, cold day? Zucchini’s ability to transform from a cool and fresh garnish to comfort food makes it a nourishing asset for any kitchen transitioning from summer to fall.
Corn has a pretty good reputation as a fall vegetable. We hang clumps of decorative stalks on our front doors and roast it on the grill for the last barbecue of the season. Its big draw is, once again, versatility. Grilled corn-on-the-cob works for both summer picnics and indoor fall dinners. You can grill it outside or the stovetop. It’s nice to have a picnic-specific dish that can be the star of an indoor meal too.
The healthy cousin to oats and barley, quinoa is light and works well cold or hot. It has become a common garnish on salads and sandwiches in recent years. Many also boil it as a substitute for rice on a dinner platter or oatmeal in the morning. Quinoa is especially suited to fall because of this flexibility. Like zucchini, it can transition from salad to comfort food very easily. Quinoa’s other secret is how healthy it is. It’s anti-inflammatory, full of antioxidants, and can decrease the chance of type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s also packed with protein.
Another salad to comfort food gem, bell peppers correspond to the colors of both summer and fall. Low in calories and rich in vitamin C, these peppers will help you stay on the health bandwagon. Bell peppers can last for quite a long time, too. If you take the time to dry some during the late summer, you’ll have a nice nutritious snack during the winter months. Get rid of those chips and munch on some bell peppers instead!
This ruby red fruit is often delegated to the sidelines when it comes to fruit. Why? We’ve got nothing. It’s amazing and you should eat it. There aren’t too many fall fruits, and while we all love apples, the pomegranate is healthier and won’t tempt you into making a pie. Pomegranate possibilities exceed those of most fruits. It can be eaten cold on a salad, pureed as a jam, grilled, or baked. If you want the fruity taste of summer in a cozy fall dish, pomegranate is the food for you.
We see the sweet potato as a Thanksgiving ingredient firmly rooted in the fall. Sweet potatoes let you keep that sweet taste in your mouth while baking healthy and savory. Want something more than a simple baked potato? This is your answer! Try and leave the marshmallows off, unless this is your compromised cheat meal.
Thanks to Italian cuisine, we eat this vegetable year-round on pasta and breaded chicken. This fall vegetable is featured in many international dishes. Mexican salsa, British breakfasts, the list goes on and on. The tomato has many native manifestations as well. A diced tomato can cover a salad or a fish filet. We’ve talked a lot about how crisp, cool summer foods can be transformed into warm comfort dishes. Tomatoes are a bit different. A warm tomato sauce is nice, but the true charm of tomatoes is as a garnish. Give your savory dishes a little bright red flourish.
Now you know how to save yourself from those autumn binges. And yes. You can add meat to any of these vegetable choices. And, of course, you don’t need to diet if you don’t want to! We’re just trying to give you some tasty options if that’s your kind of thing.— Julie Grossman