There is such beauty and abundance right now in my part of the country. This is truly the time we celebrate the harvest and the work that has been done in the fields since March! I am thankful for a break from the work I do outside, of now. I know as soon as the snow begins to fly, I will be daydreaming about what I will be planting in the spring. Luckily, we've had a very warm fall and I've been able to continue harvesting greens, herbs, and my cruciferous veggies (yes, no snow yet for Buffalo!)!
So what should you make sure is on your Thanksgiving table? Here are some great suggestions and their health benefits!
1) Greens!!! You can't eat these babies enough! They're jam packed with every vitamin imaginable; Vitamin A (yes, underneath those green colors are carotenoids packed with antioxidants), Vitamins C, E, K, folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, protein, and fiber! Plus they're down right gorgeous! These greens were just harvested. Nothing is easier or cheeper to grow than greens. Even in Buffalo, NY, where the 1st question I'm always asked is "How much snow do you have?", we can grow from March-December. Today is so gorgeous, I'm going out to plant spinach!
How to prepare: saute in water just until bright green, or chop and eat raw. The less you cook your greens, the more nutrients they maintain. Search my blog for many recipes that include greens.
2) Brussels Sprouts/Broccoli/Cauliflower-I'm grouping these babies together because they all fall into the category "cruciferous" vegetables. They are at their peak right now, preferring the cold snaps at night to heighten their sweetness. They are packed with all of the same nutrients that those greens are, just slightly less. However-Brussels Sprouts & broccoli are packed with Vitamin C, even more than an orange (broccoli, 135% DV and Brussels sprouts 129% DV!). They're also very easy to grow, and these were just harvested, with more stalks to go!
Here's an easy to make Chipotle Brussels Slaw (no cooking required)
3) Winter Squash-Squashes-there are many kinds; butternut, acorn, buttercup, kabocha, hubbard, spaghetti, delicata, and of course the prize: pumpkin! All are packed with Vitamins A, C, B-6, and a source of magnesium, calcium, and fiber. Their rich orange color is attributed to their Vitamin A content from carotenoids, much prized for their antioxidant/cancer-preventive properties. Great roasted, cooked and pureed to be used in soups, or as a base for risotto.
How to prepare: peel, and cube. To roast; drizzle with a little fresh orange juice, salt, pepper, and some ground sage. Roast covered with foil at 375 until softened. If desired, drizzle with maple syrup or a espresso vinegar. Also great in combination with root veggies below.
Or-make my Butternut Squash Soup (vegan, gluten free, and oil free)
4) Root Vegetables: Carrots/parsnips/beets/sweet potatoes-it's root veggie harvesting season too! These beautiful root veggies are sweet and delicious. They can even be harvested later in the season, as they are protected by being under ground. It's my kids' job to harvest the root veggies, and we're always sad when they've all been eaten! Contrary to popular belief, carrots come in many colors: yellow, orange, white, red/purple, as do beets-yellow, red, and swirled. The darker the color, the higher their carotenoid levels (Vitamin A). Beets are very high in iron as well, and PLEASE don't waste those greens! If getting beets from the store or your CSA, cut the greens off right away. If you leave them on, they wilt and cause the roots to dehydrate as well. Cut them off, chop, and store in another container.
Easy prep: cut all root veggies into small diced size. Drizzle with orange juice, little salt, pepper, and ground sage, toss. Cover with aluminum foil and roast at 375 until tender. Sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve. Great when combined with Butternut or other squashes.
Or serve on top of a salad, like my Arugula Lentil Salad With Grapefruit and Roasted Beets
5) Cranberries-while not a vegetable, how could I skip this essential food for Thanksgiving?! Cranberries are packed with Vitamin C and are a very powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Often, they are served covered in sugar. Please, when making these beautiful fruits, go light on the sugar. Use natural fruit juices to help cut their tartness, but also celebrate their flavor!
Here's my lower-sugar Cranberry Dried Cherry Sauce.
Hope this gives you a few ideas!
Next week...Thanksgiving desserts! Until then....happy eating!
Jessica from www.gardenfreshfoodie.com