A new season is upon us – Fall is here! Along with this season come some foods we may consider comfort foods because of the dishes we usually create with them. Apple and pumpkin pie, squash soup and applesauce to name a few. However, we should realize they are also full of an abundance of great nutrients. If we take the time to prepare these healthfully they will benefit not only our diabetes management, but help prevent other health conditions from heart disease to cancer. Substances in the following foods can show us how healthy they are simply by the color they display – bright orange, green, red and yellow. Eating healthfully is really about eating an abundance of nutrients that benefit our overall health.
If you have a local farmer’s market these will be even better for you as you walk around collecting them you’ll also be getting a little exercise!
Pumpkins: These are rich in beta-carotene. Pumpkins are low in calories, fat and sodium, and high in fiber. The seeds are high in protein and are loaded with magnesium and iron. * If you plan to use pumpkins for baking (pie), choose the small “pie” pumpkins as they have a sweet flavor and mild texture.
Butternut/Acorn Squash: These are some of the healthiest vegetables around and also my favorite to fill with a broth based soup. Butternut squash is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene. The high fiber and low sugar content make this perfect for blood glucose control – and the portion is amazing compared to white potatoes!
Apples: Phytonutrients in apples can help you regulate your blood sugar. Recent research has shown that nutrients in apples can help prevent spikes in blood sugar through a variety of mechanisms. Flavonoids found in apples can inhibit enzymes involved in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. Your body will have fewer simple sugars to deal with when these enzymes are inhibited. In addition, the polyphenols in apple have been shown to lessen absorption of glucose from the digestive tract.
Ginger: This root contains a compound called gingerol that may decrease blood pressure and increase circulation. It may also help relieve arthritis pain by blocking inflammation. Many people find it also calms an upset stomach and can aid with improved digestion. This can be used to add flavor to a lot of fall/winter dishes as well as brewed as a tea.
Kale, Swiss chard: These and other dark green leafy vegetables contain lutein, which helps protect your vision against macular degeneration and cataracts – something people with diabetes are more prone to developing. Kale is rich in beta-carotene, vitamins C, E and folate, as well as calcium and magnesium – all of which are important for strong bones. Just one cup of cooked Swiss chard has about a third of your RDA of magnesium, which helps keep nerve cells healthy!
Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable can provide you with cholesterol-lowering benefits if you steam it lightly (should be bright green after steaming). This is also a good source of Vitamin K and Vitamin A – both of which are important for Vitamin D metabolism. (Many people with diabetes are deficient in Vitamin D). For a healthy low calorie and virtually carbohydrate free snack that is easy to prepare and unbelievably tasty try the following recipe:
Healthy Fall Recipe
Kale chips: Curly edged kale leaves – cut or ripped into 2-3 inch pieces
1-2 Tbsp olive oil – or use an olive oil spray
* Chili powder (optional if you like spicy chips!)
Directions: Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Wash and pat dry the kale leaves. Cut into 2-3 inch pieces (chip size).Place in large bowl and drizzle with olive oil or use olive oil spray mister to lightly coat the leaves with oil.Sprinkle leaves with sea salt and garlic powder.Using hands, mix leaves and lightly rub to ensure garlic and salt are distributed onto each piece. Place wax paper on cookie sheet. Place kale pieces onto wax paper – do not overlap leaves. Bake on middle oven rack for 7-8 minutes. Chips should be dry, but not crumbly to the touch. If chips crumble easily, bake for less time (all oven temperatures and baking time can vary slightly). Enjoy!!