If fall foods were guests, they would be the ones who seamlessly make themselves at home and create that feeling of comfort and warmth with very little effort.
Since fall is such a busy time of year for all of us, with kids back in school, planning for the holidays, and much-needed weekend football bingeing, lessening our food preparation time is imperative.
Fall foods are some of the easiest and healthiest ingredients to prepare. They're rich in color, which translates to rich in nutrients and flavor.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare fall’s bounty of healthy ingredients in no time. After all, I’d much rather be spending time with my family — and those guests who keep hanging out in the kitchen.
(Collards, Kale, Mustard Greens, Chard, Turnip Greens, Beet Greens)
Nutritional Highlights: Low in calories and an excellent source of vitamins (A, C, and K), calcium, and potassium.
Wilted: Wilt a bunch of chopped greens by stirring into your favorite pan of roasted root vegetables just before serving.
Finely Chopped: Use a variety of greens and chop them finely for a unique chopped salad with all the fixings.
Sautéed: Chop and sauté a bunch of greens. Ribbon-cut collard greens are a perfect quick side dish. Just sauté with onion, chicken or vegetable stock, and red pepper flakes. So good.
Stir Fry: My favorite way to get greens into my family’s diet! Adding leftover pasta at the last minute makes a side dish a meal.
Nutritional Highlights: A great source of fiber and vitamin C.
Baked: How about a quick banana pear bread or easy pear crisp?
Roasted: A crisp Anjou pear quartered and tossed in a little melted butter and herbs (I love rosemary) then roasted at 200°F for 20 minutes is an amazing side dish.
Sliced Thin: Pear “chips” or crisps are great. Sprinkle with the tiniest bit of cinnamon sugar for an after-school snack for the kids or use as the most beautiful organic cake topper.
Easy Pear Cinnamon Chips
- 2 firm pears
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a mandoline to thinly slice pears about ⅛- to ¼-inch thick and place onto prepared baking sheet.
2. Bake for 2 hours, remove from oven, and flip pears over. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle lightly over the pears.
3. Bake for an additional 1-2 hours, or until lightly browned and mostly crisp. The pears will continue to crisp up as they cool completely at room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.
Pumpkin and Squash
Nutritional Highlights: Low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Packed with vitamins (E, A, and C) as well as being a very good source of dietary fiber.
Roasted: Squash is the duct tape of all roasted vegetables. Tossing in a little olive oil and hitting it with just about any spice produces a wonderful outcome. A pinch of curry? Yes. A sprinkle of Za’atar? Yes, please. Everything tastes good sprinkled on squash just before roasting.
Mashed: If you have never mashed squash, you're missing out. Treat it the same as you would a potato; you can boil it, but I prefer to mash after I roast. It’s a perfect complement to roasted pork tenderloin.
Jerked: Butternut squash is perfect for grilling – slice and seed; brush with olive oil; and dust with salt, pepper, and a little jerk seasoning before grilling. It's a great side to a chicken dish, or top each slice with quick-sautéed greens (that still have a little crunch) and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds or pepitas.
Drink it: What? Yes, mashed pumpkin added to a smoothie is probably one of the best things you will ever taste. It’s better than any spiced pumpkin latte in the morning and so much healthier.
Try 1 cup pumpkin purée mixed with a little honey, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
Photo Credit: Stocksy