For many, fall means new classes, new activities and sports, new schedules and a shift to colder weather foods. Regardless of age, having the right fuel — even better if it comes from produce that is at its peak — is key to helping kids function at their best. Summer’s bounty of tomatoes and peaches may be over, but harvest season has its own advantages such as an abundance of the following delicious fall foods. Here are some simple, kid-friendly ways to add them to your family’s meals.
Is anything more fall-like than a pumpkin? These famously orange winter squashes are chock-full of vitamin A and deliver 3 grams of fiber per ½-cup serving of cooked pumpkin, plus potassium. Note that the pumpkins you carve into jack-o’-lanterns are not the same type of pumpkins you eat. Try pumpkin puree mixed into mac-and-cheese or with hummus for a seasonal spread. Looking for more options? Add pumpkin to pancake batter, oatmeal, smoothies or your kid’s favorite chili.
And don’t forget about roasting the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a delicious and healthful snack and a good source of several nutrients, including zinc, which is essential for many body processes including immune function. To toast your pumpkin seeds, first rinse to remove pulp and strings. Spread seeds on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray or drizzle a small amount of olive oil over seeds. Bake at 325°F for about 30 minutes or until lightly toasted. Stir occasionally during cooking. Take a look at your spice rack and try a seasoning on your toasted seeds such as garlic powder or Cajun seasoning.
Heart-healthy oats are loaded with fiber for slow-burning energy. The soluble fiber in oats also boosts heart health. Warm oatmeal is an affordable and filling breakfast. Top oatmeal with nuts such as walnuts or pecans, seeds such as ground flaxseed or chia seed and fruit such as pears or cranberries for even more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Apples pack a powerful nutrition punch. They are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Sprinkle apple slices with ground cinnamon or pair with cheese or peanut butter for an easy snack. Don’t forget about dinner! Apples also taste great when stewed and served with savory foods such as roasted pork.
They may be small, but Brussels sprouts are part of the powerhouse cruciferous veggie family. Each 1-cup serving of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 4 grams of fiber, is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K and folate and a good source of iron. They even have some protein.
You can cut whole Brussels sprouts into kid-friendly quarters and toss with sea salt and olive oil. Roast until crispy and you have a tasty alternative to French fries. If your kids are skeptical, serve the sprouts mixed with roasted sweet potato or butternut squash cubes. You also can shred them (or buy them pre-shredded) and sauté lightly in olive oil then toss with your kids’ favorite pasta or rice dish.
Adapted from: Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN
Nutrition Tip of the Day
Those jumbo packs of snacks aren’t a bargain if you end up throwing some away, plus having bigger packages at home means you’ll eat more.