There are plenty of reasons to fawn over summer’s abundance of crisp lettuce heads, plump tomatoes, and juicy local berries. But when sweater weather rolls around, there are still plenty of impressive and seasonal powerfoods at their flavor and nutritional peak. While everyone loves pumpkins, carrots, and apples for their comfort-food appeal, there are some lower-profile vegetables and fruits that you should be scouring markets for this fall. Combat common maladies and breathe new life into your menu with these underrated cold-weather finds to hold you over until asparagus season.
1 CONCORD GRAPES
Red and green grapes are year-round finds in the produce aisle, but these not-to-be-missed sweet-tart gems are a true harbinger of fall. Native to American soil, oh-so-seasonal concord grapes are blessed with a luscious, sweet interior that is as grape-y tasting as a grape can be. Their deep, purple-blue hue marks the presence of a payload of beneficial polyphenols—the same sort of potent free-radical-annihilating antioxidants found in berries. Recent evidence suggests that polyphenols from concords can bolster mental functioning and fortify heart health by helping our blood vessels dilate for better blood flow. These small-but-mighty nutritional powerhouses also offer up vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese, a mineral that’s necessary to activate enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids.
In the Kitchen: It’s never a bad idea to nosh on concord grapes by the handful, just as soon as they’re purchased from local markets. And DIY jam and jellies are a natural fit. But don’t stop there. Use grapes in baked goods, toss them into fruit and vegetable salads, and make them a star of compotes to be strewn over fish, meat, or a bowl of yogurt. Grapes also freeze well. Rinse, dry, and freeze them on a baking sheet. You can cook or bake with frozen concords—or snack on them straight from the freezer for a frosty treat.
2 CELERY ROOT
Here is proof that beauty is only skin deep in the vegetable world. Lumpy and gnarled celery root, also called celeriac, is exactly what its moniker claims it to be—the sizable root of a celery plant. What it lacks in aesthetics, subterranean celery root makes up for with a fresh flavor that wanders between parsley and celery, which is in the same family as parsley. It also boasts ample amounts of vitamin K—a single-cup serving delivers nearly a day’s requirement for this nutrient. A recent study in the journal Nutrients suggests that people with higher blood levels of vitamin K are at a lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes. Vitamin K is also vital for proper blood clotting and bone strength. Celery root supplies a range of other essential nutrients, including vitamin C, phosphorus, and potassium, and it’s one of the lower-sugar root vegetables—its carbs hail mostly from slower-digesting complex carbohydrates. Bonus: It’s super-versatile, making it easy to eat as often as you like.
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