Is fall not the best time of year? I mean, cooler temps, beautiful colors, cute clothes (anyone else excited for boots and sweaters?), and amazing seasonal foods. Fall is the home to a variety of delicious, healthy and colorful foods that, with a little encouragement, I think your sprouts will learn to love.
Oh the squashes! So many colors and shapes and varieties to try, but I feel like some people are afraid to venture into this world of acorn and spaghetti and butternut varieties. If you parents aren’t willing to try them, I can basically guarantee your kids won’t either, SO it’s time to branch out! Why do I want you to try squash so bad? Here’s just a few reasons:
- Fiber! Squash and fiber are basically BFFs. I think I’ve probably mentioned fiber once or twice (or 100 times) before, but it is so beneficial for your sprouts. It keeps them full, helps regulate blood sugar, and also keeps them regular. All good things, all good things.
- Vitamin A (beta carotene)! At least in the orange varieties (like butternut). Vitamin A is that stuff in carrots that helps your kids see better at night. It also helps with immunity and going into cold season that is something we are all looking for, especially for our little ones!
- Sweet! Do your kids love sweets as much as mine! Well, squash is a naturally sweet food, so what is there not to love?! Bringing out those sweet flavors through roasting and seasoning can turn those little beauties into basically a dessert, or at least make them sweet enough to get your little sweeties to take a bite.
So what do you do with squash? All. The. Things. Really, there are so many yummy recipes out there but these are a few of my favorite serving suggestions. With spaghetti squash I like to roast it and use it as spaghetti! It’s fun and yummy and a great way to include another vegetable with your meal. Butternut squash is my favorite. Try it savory by roasting it with olive oil and a little salt and pepper, or sweet by tossing it with some cinnamon maple syrup before roasting it. Either way is delicious. But if you’re sprouts aren’t going for it, never fear. You can always hide squash in their macaroni and cheese. Trust me on this one. It’s SOOO good.
I feel like apples are a seriously underappreciated fruit. Right up there with bananas and oranges. Everyone is all about acai and gogi berries these days, I just think maybe we need to go back to the basics. Lucky for us, apples are in season right now. Lucky for your sprouts, they’re delicious and nutritious. What’s so great about these beauties?
- Fiber! Do I sound like a broken record yet? I won’t reiterate much except to say that apples have fiber and fiber is good for kids. Keep in mind that most of the fiber is in the peel so if you want this benefit you gotta keep it on. Applesauce has some fiber and apple juice has almost none. Just some food for thought.
- Vitamin C! Not only does vitamin C prevent rickets (though hopefully none of your kids are close to that…), it may help with immunity (again, cold season…you get the idea).
- Antioxidants! An apple a day keeps the doctor away right?! Well, maybe not always, but they do provide quercetin, which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are those powerful little compounds that help prevent heart disease and cancer. Both those may seem far off for you littles ones, but starting healthy habits now can lead to healthy habits later!
How to eat apples? I could seriously do a post on just this. How about dipped in peanut butter or with some sharp cheese for a yummy after school snack. Replace half of the oil in baked goods (think bread and cake) with unsweetened applesauce to lower the fat and calorie content. Toss them into salads or make a slaw for a yummy side at dinner. For dessert sprinkle them with cinnamon or go a step further and bake them with some oats and brown sugar for a yummy, healthy(er) after-dinner treat. They even go well with pork when stewed into a savory sauce. Or, of course, eat them as is, skin and all, So many options, so little time.
Ok, Ok, so technically this is also a squash, but I really thought it should have it’s own category. I was a pumpkin lover before being a pumpkin lover was cool, and it is definitely something I want to pass down to my little G. Though many things labeled pumpkin spice are not all that healthy, if you go for the real thing, it can pack a powerful nutritional punch. What are the health benefits?
- See squash. Since pumpkin is technically a squash, it would make sense that they are nutritionally similar.
- Potassium! Potassium is an electrolyte that is the yin to sodiums yang (or maybe it’s the yang to sodiums yin?) in that it counteracts some of the effects of high sodium. It also helps muscles contract, which I’m guessing your kiddos do a lot of as they run from place to place!
- Zinc! If you’ve ever roasted pumpkin seeds you’ll know that they are delicious, but did you also know that they are healthy? Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, another one of those immune minerals that can help fend off cold season. Let your sprouts snack on these for a change this fall!
So what do we do with pumpkin? I’ll tell you what you don’t do, you don’t buy pumpkin spice oreos because, though they are delicious, they do not in fact contain the benefits of pumpkin. What you should do is add the real pumpkin anywhere you can. Making pancakes? Add some pumpkin! Muffins? Make them pumpkin muffins! Hummus? Pumpkin hummus! Chili? Pumpkin Chili! Pasta? Pumpkin pasta! I’m not crazy, it will really taste good in all these things! My new favorite way is to heat it with some almond milk, maple syrup, and cinnamon to make a yummy, lower sugar alternative to hot chocolate. Feed this to your kids along with some pumpkin oatmeal for a warm fall breakfast and they will think you’re the best (or they’ll think you’ve lost it because you’re adding pumpkin to everything).
Fall has so many yummy, healthy fruits and vegetables to include in your sprouts’ diet. We could talk about pears, brussels sprouts, kale, beets, cranberries, etc. But I hope this will inspire your seasonal eating habits and encourage you to expose your littles to some of my fall favorites. After all, they’re healthy and yummy, what more could you ask for in a food?!