The abundance of fall produce makes this one of the most exciting times of year culinarily (need inspiration for veggies to play around with? Check out our favorite squashes and exactly how to use them.) We're all about constantly striving to make our food even more healthy and delicious here at mbg. While fall veggies are packed with inflammation-fighting vitamins and minerals on their own, we wanted to arm you with a few easy tricks to take them to the next level. Here are a few easy ways to optimize the nutritional status of your next fall meal:
1. Toss them with spices and herbs.
Many of your favorite spices are not only adding flavor but also providing anti-inflammatory properties. While turmeric gets a lot of the spotlight (and rightfully so; a ton of studies have shown its anti-inflammatory effects), all spices and herbs contain unique, health-promoting qualities—and their flavors pair perfectly with fall produce. Toss your veggies with turmeric, cinnamon, or chopped rosemary with a generous pinch of fine-grain sea salt before roasting with a high-quality oil (see No. 3 for more on that). You can also use spices and herbs to turn a basic three-ingredient soup into something that tastes gourmet. Simply sauté a diced yellow onion in avocado oil or olive oil in a medium pot until translucent, then add a generous pinch of sea salt and peeled, chopped fall squash or root veggie of choice (acorn squash, butternut squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes—all work great!). Top with veggie broth and cook until the veggie is easily pierced by a fork, then blend with your spice of choice until smooth. Moroccan seasonings like harissa play well with the sweet warmth of butternut squash while parsnips love cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise. Play around—you could have a different dinner with almost the exact same ingredients almost every night simply by changing the spice blend!
2. Deglaze with bone broth.
Bone broth is consistently cited by functional medicine experts as one of their top inflammation-fighting foods. "The glucosamine in bone broth can actually stimulate the growth of new collagen, repair damaged joints, and reduce pain and inflammation," explains Amy Myers, M.D. Take advantage of its healing powers by swapping it for stock or broth whenever a recipe calls for it. You can use it in stuffing, in soups, and to deglaze veggies. The best way to make sure you always have some on hand when you need it? Freeze it in an ice cube tray, then, when it's completely frozen, pop out the cubes and store them in a large, freezer-safe bag. You can pop out a few cubes if you need a cup or two of broth, or just use one at a time to add pops of flavor to stir-fries or add a savory, umami-packed sheen to roasted veggies.
3. Lean into anti-inflammatory fats.
Start with your cooking oils: Toss your veggies with fats that have been found to have inflammation-fighting benefits like olive oil and avocado oil (bonus: They're both liquid at room temperature, which makes tossing them with cold veggies on a roasting pan much easier). Then, up the ante even more by mixing in more anti-inflammatory fats by incorporating nuts and seeds. Regular nut consumption has been found to lower a number of inflammatory markers, and they also add a satisfying toasty flavor and crunch to seasonal dishes. Top your roasted root veggies with a sprinkle of chopped toasted pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts; mix pistachios into a butternut squash and dried cranberry salad; spoon a generous amount of nuts onto your favorite soup to add texture and interest. Inflammation-fighting and crave-worthy? Sounds like a perfect fall dish.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.