by Cherise T.
End of summer blues? Turn to the colorful fruits and vegetables of autumn for a mood lift. Filled with nutrients, seasonal produce offers a culinary treat.
The Complete Autumn and Winter Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen includes side dishes, main courses, and desserts filled with the flavors of fall. An entire chapter is devoted to pumpkin, a low-calorie, vitamin-dense treat. The antioxidant beta-carotene in pumpkin lends it that beautiful orange color and blocks the free radicals that cause cells to age. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A which is essential for healthy eyes, skin, and bones. Try the slow-cooker creamy pumpkin-chai soup for a treat on a chilly day.
Winter squash, another rich source of beta-carotene, can be fun to prepare with the guidance of Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher. Squash is low in carbohydrates, for those monitoring sugar intake, and high in potassium, for those following a heart-healthy diet. Recipes include kale and spelt berry salad. Lutein gives kale its dark green color and helps protect the eye from developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Cranberries are high in vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system and helps shorten the duration of cold symptoms.
As temperatures drop, the grill is a wonderful way to prepare vegetables. In Green Fire: Extraordinary Ways to Grill Fruits and Vegetables from the Master of Live-Fire Cooking, Francis Mallman shares his unique Patagonian recipes. Prepare his salt-baked beets for a dish rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Diets high in fiber have been associated with fewer digestive issues and lower colon cancer risk. Betalains, responsible for the purple-red color of beets, reduce inflammation and cell damage. Beets are also high in folate (vitamin B9), which has been linked to lowered risk of heart disease and stroke.
In Naturally Sweet Baking: Healthier Recipes for a Guilt-Free Treat, recipes include fall fruits such as pears as alternative sweeteners. High in fiber, pears have some sugar but do not have the high glycemic index that contributes to diabetes risk. The vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants in pears add to their health benefits. Authors Carolin Strothe and Sebastian Keitel include a seasonal calendar as part of their guidance in baking without artificial coloring or processed sugar. Explore the baking collection at Elkridge’s DIY Education Center to find specialty cake pans available for checkout.
The Howard County Farmers Market continues on Wednesdays from 2 – 6 pm in the Miller Branch parking area.
Cherise Tasker is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.