AND fall for these seasonal super veggies! 

Do the items in your grocery cart look the same week after week? Do you have a case of “produce predictability?” If so, you are not alone! According to consumer purchasing research, the top four vegetables Americans choose most frequently are potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, and corn.

If menu planning always falls onto your plate, enlist support and round the troops! Ask each family member to “research” a new vegetable, and “pinterest” that veggie for recipe ideas! Involve your family in meal planning and engage them in age-appropriate tasks such as washing produce, seeding a squash or tossing cut vegetables in olive oil. Letting them participate increases the likelhood that your child will try new foods (plus you equip them with priceless lifelong skills!)


The Pay Off:

Choosing a variety of colorful, plant-based foods is the most efficient way of obtaining vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that supplement companies promise can be acquired in their “miracle capsules.” For those seeking weight loss, research has shown that filling 1/2 your plate with vegetables can help you feel full, without filling you out! Eating vegetables which are low in calories, yet high in water and fiber, is the ideal combination for weight loss.

Hopefully this newsletter will inspire you to fall out of your comfort zone and fall for these seasonal superfoods!

1. Spaghetti Squash
What it is: An oblong, yellow squash, mild in flavor. If you don’t care for squash, don’t cross this one off your list! Its mellow flavor is the perfect base for spaghetti sauce. Once cooked, you will quickly see how the squash got its name. The stringy squash looks just like spaghetti noodles as you fork it out of the shell (let your kids try this!)
Nutritional resume: Spaghetti squash is a good source of eye protecting carotenoids, and provides only 42 calories per cup compared to 220 calories in a cup of pasta!
Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Basil & Cheese
1 cooked spaghetti squash
3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1⁄2 cup sliced fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients while spaghetti squash is hot. Enjoy!
2. Fennel
What it is: Crunchy and slightly sweet, this vegetable’s flavor profile is of licorice/anise. Its bulb, stalks and leaves are all edible.
How to buy itBulbs should be clean, firm and without too many blemishes. There should be no signs of flowering buds that will tell you the fennel is past its time.
How to store: Store in your produce drawer. It should keep fresh for about 4 days.
Recipe: Pork Chops with Braised Fennel & Caramelized Onions
Yield: 4 servings
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced
1 cup chicken stock
4 Tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 pork chops
2 large red onions, peeled and finely sliced
In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the fennel, stock, butter, garlic, fennel seeds, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large shallow pan. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking until the fennel is mostly soft but not mushy and the liquid is mostly evaporated. Adjust for seasoning to taste. To finish cooking, turn the heat to medium-high and cook off the remaining liquid, allowing the fennel to brown a little bit.
In a third skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Season the pork chops and cook to desired doneness, depending on thickness, 3 to 5 minutes per side on medium-high. Remove the chops to rest, and add a splash of water to deglaze the pan. Pour the pan drippings into the fennel mixture. Serve the chops on a bed of fennel, topped with the onions.
Source: Nibblous
3. Brussels Sprouts
What it is: A cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli & cabbage.
Nutritional resume: Rich in vitamin K & C, these mini cabbages are well known to protect us against certain cancers, and assist with our body’s metabolic manager, the thyroid.
RecipeHoney Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts 3 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with all ingredients. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.
4. Parsnips
What it is: A root vegetable related to the carrot that is rich in vitamin C and fiber.
Nutritional resume: Parsnips shine as a source of soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol and keep blood sugars even. They’re also a good source of folic acid, which reduces the risk of birth defects.
How to buy: Look for small to medium size parsnips with firm, unblemished skin for the sweetest flavor.
Recipe: Parsnip Fries
Yield: 6 servings
2 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into about 3×1/2-inch strips
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. (or more) ground cumin
Preheat oven to 450°. Mix parsnips, chopped rosemary, garlic, and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer. Scatter rosemary sprigs over. Roast for 10 minutes; turn parsnips and roast until parsnips are tender and browned in spots, 10–15 minutes longer. Crumble leaves from rosemary sprigs over; discard stems and toss to coat. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. cumin over. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cumin, if desired.

5. Chickpeas

What they are: Chickpeas (or garbanzo) beans are legume superstars. You have most likely enjoyed them as a salad topping off the salad bar or pureed as the main ingredient in hummus.
Nutritional resume: One cup of chickpeas contains 270 calories, 13 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein. Canned will be the easiest way to implement these into your everyday diet. Look for no salt added brands or rinse under water to reduce sodium by 40%.

Recipe: Roasted Chicken with Italian Chickpeas
Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
4 chicken breast halves with bones
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
Preheat oven to 450°. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.
Source: Epicurious

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.