FRESH. LOCAL. FLAVORFUL. NUTRITIOUS.
I don’t know about you, but I love the Farm to Table restaurant craze that is sweeping the nation. These chefs understand the benefit of using fresh, seasonal, and local produce in their restaurants. Some top Farm to Table restaurants in Atlanta worth trying are True Food Kitchen, Local Three, Empire State South, and Miller Union.
But don’t make going out to eat a special occasion. Start cooking Farm to Table at home.
WHY EAT SEASONALLY?
The taste and flavors of produce in season are far superior. One of the ways you can tell whether a fruit or vegetable is in season is by their color. Plants get their nutrients from the soil and sun. When produce is able to grow in its natural climate, it has higher levels of key nutrients including powerful antioxidants which give produce its rich color.
Eating seasonally can also save you money because local, fresh food does not have to be imported into the country eliminating all the transportation cost.
Organic local and seasonal produce is safer on the body. These farmers avoid pesticides and do not genetically modify their fruits and vegetables. Pesticides are not only toxic to the body, but it also kills all the nutrients in the soil that nourishes the produce we consume.
The most important take away is local and seasonal food can be grown with minimal human interference (genetically modifying, increasing pesticides, and avoiding unnecessary transportation and possible contamination). Simple rule to follow is that the less food has been touched by human the healthier it is. Whenever possible, know where your food is sourced!
WHAT SHOULD I EAT THIS FALL AND WINTER?
Lets first define what constitutes as Fall and Winter. The first day of fall or the Autumnal Equinox is September 22 and it continues until the Winter Solstice on December 21. Winter continues until the first day of Spring on March 20. Due to the climates being similar through parts of Fall and Winter, some produce thrive in both seasons.
- Winter Squash– Ex: butternut squash, acorn squash
- Contrary to the name, winter squash are actually harvested in the Fall. However, these vegetables will stay fresh and delicious through the winter months.
- Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A (beta carotene)
- Vitamin A plays a vital role in your vision, immune system, bone growth, and skin health.
- Apples and Pears
- These two fruits share several health benefits. They are both extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber. Eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away!
- You will hear me say often to not under estimate the power of herbs and this is a perfect example. Sage has been shown to help with brain function, reduce inflammation, prevent diseases, boost the immune system, and regulate digestion. Making this an excellent addition to your Fall menu.
- Who doesn’t love pumpkin? Rich in vitamin A, fiber, and vitamin C. Pumpkin is great for your immune system and has anti-aging properties. You may find pumpkin masks or pumpkin serums on the market to help your skin glow.
- You can also eat the pumpkin’s seeds for additional health benefits. One of the my favorite benefits is that they contain the amino acid tryptophan (precursor of serotonin, happy neurotransmitter) to help boost your mood.
- Brussels Sprouts
- This is in the cruciferous vegetable family, making it an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K
- Vitamin C will help strengthen your immune system to ward off infection
- Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that helps your blood clot (especially important after injury) and it helps maintain strong bones
- High in natural sugars and fiber, making it helpful for bowel regulation
- Rich in potassium, manganese, magnesium, and iron
- Blood Oranges
- Rich in vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and antioxidants (carotenoids and polyphenols) like most oranges; however they have the added benefit of anthocyanins.
- Anthocyanins are what give them their reddish color. This antioxidant has been shown to help with liver health, lowering blood pressure, improving vision, reducing inflammation, and it functions as a natural anti-microbial (kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi).
- Beets are a versatile vegetable that are used in salads, hummus, side dishes, and more. Beets are naturally sweet with the highest sugar content out of all vegetables (For ex: beets have 9 grams of sugar in 1 cup where as sweet potato have 6 grams of sugar in 1 cup)
- Beets are very high in folate (B9) which helps with fetal development (great for Mom’s to be), helps the body produce more red blood cells (can help with anemia), and helps with DNA synthesis and repair.
- Anti-viral and anti-cancer properties; Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E and it is thought to have three times as many antioxidants as red wine and green tea. WOW!
- In the same cruciferous vegetable family as brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli. Like most vegetables in this family, turnips are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate (B9), copper, manganese, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin E and vitamin B6.
- Another important health benefit of cruciferous vegetables is they contain diindolylmethane or DIM which helps the body metabolize estrogen. This is incredibly important for women that are estrogen dominant to help prevent breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
- This is the first allium vegetable to appear on the list. Allium vegetables are closely related to onions, garlic, shallots, and scallions
- Leeks are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, and they help reduce cholesterol by keeping the liver healthy.
Food truly is medicine!
YES, THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT
There are two free apps that are great resources to help you find fresh and local produce, called Farmstand and Fresh Food Finder. These apps will help you find fresh food in your area and give you directions, hours of operation, and photos.
Support your local farmers today!
Kristin Oja, DNP, FNP-C, PT-C