5 Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Fall—Plus 3 Recipes

Fall brings shorter days, longer nights, cooler weather, and a new menu of seasonal foods to help keep your body balanced and well. The fall harvest is full of antioxidant- and fiber-laden fare from Brussels sprouts and pumpkin to parsnips and persimmons. Incorporate these tips and recipes into your life to boost your health during the autumn months.

Reach for Root Vegetables

Most root vegetables are available all year, but they’re at their peak from fall to spring. Underground gems such as garlic, onions, ginger, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, and parsnips deliver ample flavor and nutrients during the cooler months. Many root vegetables are loaded with folate, which is key for cell growth and metabolism, and beta-carotene, which aids vision and bone growth.

Add Anti-Inflammatory Foods

During fall, a host of allergens can conjure sniffles and sneezes, so it’s important to pack in anti-inflammatory foods. Seasonal foods high in quercetin, like apples and onions, help block the release of histamines, which are the substances responsible for allergic reactions, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Frequent Farmers’ Markets

Learn more about seasonal produce, connect with your food, and boost your health with a visit to your local farmers’ market. Many farmers grow the most nutritious produce possible through sustainable techniques. They pick produce right before the market, and often grow heirloom varieties. The foods available at your local farmers’ markets will depend on what grows in your geographic region. As a general guideline, some foods to look for during the fall are apples, cranberries, figs, grapes, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, mushrooms, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens such as Swiss chard, romaine, kale, and collards. Find farmers’ markets near you via the National Farmers’ Market Directory.

Go for Whole Grains and Seeds

Another optimal food group for fall includes whole, nutritious grains—barley, brown rice, kamut, spelt, teff, farro—or foods that are technically seeds but are used like grains such as amaranth, wild rice, buckwheat (kasha), millet, quinoa. These foods support good nutrition and health with their high levels of B vitamins, which help improve mood, and reduce anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder. Contrary to processed or refined grains, whole, unrefined grains maintain their hunger-reducing fiber and inflammation-fighting vitamin E. Add grains and seeds to stuffing, soups, stews, or salads.

Try New Recipes

There’s no better way to enjoy seasonal fare than trying out new recipes. The following three recipes are packed with fall flavors and nutrients.

Autumn Lentil Soup With Wilted Greens

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 onion, yellow or white
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons ginger, freshly grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 3 cups fresh mixed greens (e.g., red winter kale, Swiss chard, and spinach)
  • Sea salt (optional)

Directions:

Rinse lentils thoroughly and check for small stones.

Heat grapeseed oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.

Once sauté pan is warm, add minced garlic, carrots, celery, onions, and grated ginger. Cook until onions are translucent.

Add spices, vegetable stock, and lentils, and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 30 to 35 minutes until lentils are soft.

While lentils are cooking, add the mixed greens to a steamer and cover to wilt for approximately 2 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 8 cups mixed greens (e.g, arugula and Swiss chard)
  • 4 ripe fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced
  • 2 pomegranates, seeds removed
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted

Ingredients for Vinaigrette:

  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt, dash
  • Black pepper, dash
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions for Vinaigrette:

In a small bowl, whisk the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Slowly whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil. Yields 1/2 cup.

Directions for Salad:

Thinly slice the persimmons using a chef’s knife or Mandoline, which is a slicer with a mounted blade.

Cut the pomegranates in half. With wooden spoon hold each half down over a bowl and pound the back of the fruit. This will remove the seeds from the pith. Remove any additional white pith that falls into the bowl.

Place greens into a large serving bowl, add sliced persimmons, pomegranates, and toasted walnuts, and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Serves 4 to 6

Morning Millet With Cinnamon Apples, Cranberries, and Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 organic apple, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • Cinnamon, dash
  • Almonds, chopped or slivered
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (e.g., unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

Directions:

Rinse millet under cold water in a fine mesh strainer.

Place damp seeds in a sauté pan. *Cook over medium heat.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the water has evaporated and the seeds have separated.

*Note: If you want to bring out the nutty flavor in millet, first rinse and drain it in a fine mesh strainer, then place damp seeds in a sauté pan. Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until the water has evaporated and the seeds have separated, turned lightly brown, and smell nutty.

Serves 4

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About the Author

Fran Benedict

Health and Nutrition Counselor
Fran Benedict is a certified health and nutrition counselor and the founder of SimplyMindful.com . She has been on a path of health promotion and behavior for more than 15 years and loves discovering new ways to bring attention and intention into everyday life. She believes in the extraordinary power of the mind to create a quality of life every person deserves, with an emphasis on the relation to oneself as the foundation for everything else. A member of American Association of Drugless Practitioners, Fran enjoys supporting a range of health-promotion initiatives from multi-week wellness programs in the corporate setting, to nutritional...Read more