I love fall vegetables. I can't think of one that I don't like to eat. But even a vegetable lover can still get into a cooking rut. Particularly when fall's bounty of colorful squash, leafy greens and hearty roots arrives and summer's easy-to-love heat-loving tomatoes and peppers are harder to come by at the farmers' market.
Since I need a little extra fall-vegetable-cooking inspiration right now, I thought you might too. Here are the best fall vegetables you should be cooking up, plus some pretty amazing recipes to use them in. And if good taste weren't enough, there are some compelling health reasons to eat these vegetables too!
You may not love their earthy flavor, but beets are rich in naturally occurring nitrates (as are cabbages and radishes.) You didn't hear wrong-yes, nitrates. Unlike the unhealthy artificial nitrates found in processed meat, these nitrates may be beneficial. These compounds may help poor blood flow, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline. Older adults who ate a nitrate-rich diet got a boost in blood flow to the frontal lobe of their brains-an area commonly associated with dementia-according to a recent study published in the journal Nitric Oxide
. Nitrate-rich foods can also help people with hypertension by widening blood vessels and aiding blood flow.
Eat This Right: If you're beet-phobic, try them dressed in a sweet brown sugar-orange juice glaze as they are in Brown Sugar-Glazed Beets.
You're probably already a coleslaw fan, but there are many more ways to enjoy cabbage. It's loaded with vitamins C and K, fiber and detoxifying sulfur compounds. Red cabbage also boasts anthocyanins, an antioxidant thought to keep your heart healthy and brain sharp.
Eat This Right: Enjoy cabbage three ways when you make these Korean-Style Beef & Cabbage Tacos.
If you're like me, chances are you only buy leeks if you need them for a specific recipe. But consider buying them more often to use in places of onions. Just a single leek contains 10 grams of fructans, a type of fiber associated with better gut health.
Eat This Right: Curried Pork Chops with Roasted Apples & Leeks is an easy-to-make sheet-pan supper that's perfect for fall. This recipe also utilizes the oft-thrown-away leek tops, a part of the vegetable that is high in cellulose, another type of fiber our gut bacteria love.
As with fellow members of the brassica family like broccoli and cabbage, turnips may help decrease your risk for certain cancers. Don't miss out on their tasty greens too. They're packed with vitamin A, a nutrient important for bone growth, as well as K, which aids in blood clotting.
Eat This Right: In Miso-Butter Braised Turnips, we slowly braise turnips in savory miso-spiked broth and butter to give them a sweet flavor and velvety texture. If you've never had turnips before, this recipe is a good one to start with! Do as one recipe reviewer did and stir in some cooked shrimp at the end to make it a meal.
Maybe you skip squash, since they can be a little tricky to tackle and take a while to cook. Reconsider now! Sure squash requires taking a little extra time to prepare, but it's a worthy endeavor. Winter squash is high in fiber, an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and also provides vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K and potassium.
Eat This, Easier: Delicata squash is the cheater's squash: you don't have to peel them, plus they're typically smaller, which makes them easier to cut up. Chili-Brown Sugar Roasted Delicata with Pears is a favorite among our readers.