You’ve heard the phrase “eat with the seasons,” but why is that important?
- Seasonal foods have higher nutrient content . From the moment they are harvested,
foods start declining in nutrients. Considering a nonseasonal
food could spend up to 5 days of transit, before sitting in a grocery store for 13
days, and then another week (or more) in your refrigerator before eating, that can add up to a big decline. Depending on the food, it can lose anywhere from 15-75% of its nutritional value!
Pro tip: shop at a farmer’s market to decrease time between harvest and when the food lands on your dinner plate!
- Seasonal foods are typically less expensive . Buying local, seasonal foods cuts down
on the costs associated with travel time, unnatural ripening methods and extra
- Eating seasonally is better for the environment. Allowing the soil to grow foods when
they are in season requires less pesticides and fertilizers, which means less chemicals in
our soil (and ultimately our food). And as mentioned above, foods that aren’t in season
have to travel further to get to us, which increases the carbon footprint on our planet.
- Best of all, seasonal foods taste better! Try it for yourself, next time you are at a
farmer’s market, buy something fresh that’s in season. Then find the same food in a
grocery store that came from further away. The grocery store version might be bigger,
but it probably won’t taste as fresh (or have as many nutrients!)
Here are a few of my favorite seasonal autumn fruits and veggies, along with a few tips on how to prepare them and how their nutrients support our health!
1) Winter squash
Squash is native to Central America and has been consumed for over 10,000 years! And did
you know that squash is technically a fruit? Winter squash comes in many tasty varieties
including acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, and my personal favorite,
winter squash, especially the darker fleshed varieties, are an excellent
source of carotenes, which can be protective against cancer, heart disease and
diabetes. And don’t forget the pumpkin seeds! They are rich in vitamins, minerals and
fiber, especially magnesium.
Ways to prepare:
- as an alternative to the infamous pumpkin spice latte, you can make a pumpkin
pie smoothie instead! Include pumpkin (freshly roasted or the canned version),
coconut or almond milk, banana, pumpkin pie spice and ice cubes
- for an easy butternut squash soup, combine roasted butternut squash, chopped
apples, coconut milk and cinnamon (can put in a blender after it’s done to get a
- roasted squash can make an excellent addition to soups and salads
- with some varieties like delicata and acorn, you can eat the skin (which is great if
you want to save time and skip the peeling step)
2) Brussels Sprouts
As the name suggests, Brussels sprouts were first discovered in Brussels, Belgium in the 1500s
and were brought to North American in the 1800s. They are a member of the cruciferous family,
along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and many varieties of leafy greens.
cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts are one of the top anticancer
foods out there. Their detoxification capacity cannot be understated, and studies have
shown that they can help reduce DNA damage! They are also a great source of fiber, B
vitamins, folic acid, and vitamins C and K.
Ways to prepare:
- try grating Brussels sprouts to use in salads instead of lettuce or kale
- roast them in the oven with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper
- if you are into fermenting foods, you can use shredded Brussels sprouts instead
of cabbage in your sauerkraut!
Parsnips are root vegetables that are sometimes overlooked given the popularity of carrots,
potatoes, etc. They originated in the Mediterranean area and are now grown mostly in Europe
and the U.S.
Parsnips are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, folic acid,
and several trace minerals. Their fiber and folic acid is much higher than potatoes,
making it a great alternative. Fiber is especially important for keeping our gut bacteria
Ways to prepare:
- roast parsnips along with other root vegetables for a colorful, healthy side dish,
try using fresh herbs and/or coconut oil for a different flavor
- substitute parsnips in your favorite mashed potato recipe
- make parsnip fries! Cut into strips, toss in olive oil, herbs and salt & pepper and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes
Pomegranates are native to the area between Iran and North India, and are now cultivated
around the world. In ancient Egypt, they were known as a symbol of prosperity and ambition.
Pomegranate seeds contain powerful antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects, making them excellent for joint pain and arthritis. They also can lower cancer risk, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk for heart disease.
Ways to prepare:
- use pomegranate seeds in salads, or add them to roasted vegetables (add after
- pomegranate seeds can be a colorful addition to yogurt parfaits or chia seed
- try using the seeds in infused water (along with mint or other herbs) or use it in
an autumn sangria
5) Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchokes)
The Jerusalem artichoke is neither from Jerusalem, nor an artichoke! It’s actually a variety of
sunflower found in North America. It is a tuber that resembles a small knobby potato or ginger
root. Jerusalem artichokes have a sweet, crunchy, nutty taste and can be enjoyed raw or
The most notable thing about the Jerusalem artichoke is that it known
as a “prebiotic”. This is due to the high amount of inulin it contains, which is used as
food by the good bacteria in our gut! This has a direct impact on the health of our
immune system and blood sugar regulation. Pretty cool!
Ways to prepare:
- Jerusalem artichokes can be prepared similar to potatoes, and are delicious
roasted with fresh herbs and/or paired with meat dishes
- use them raw as a substitute for water chestnuts
- slice them thin and bake them as chips with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400
Keep a lookout for these in your local farmer’s market or health food store (for a list of what’s in season where you live, check out this seasonal food guide ). Try something new, or
prepare an old favorite in a new way. What a delicious way to get the most out of the upcoming
Summer, founder of Everyday Solstice, is a holistic nutritionist and yoga teacher in the Bay Area. Through her struggles with emotional eating, body image and anxiety, she has found healing through nutrition and holistic lifestyle practices. She now uses her passion for food, nutrition, and yoga to help others improve their relationship with food and body. She works with clients remotely via video/phone and offers in-person sessions in the Bay Area. Find out more at https://www.everydaysolstice.