By Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN and Marissa Schwam BS
Autumn is here and you know what that means — cooler weather and colorful leaves; however, autumn brings more than just beauty to the land, it also brings on a new season for different fruits and vegetables. If you are like me, you are ready for the autumn haul of fruits and vegetables because they not only provide beautiful colors and flavors, they also contain an abundance of nutrients!
Some of my favorite autumn vegetables include carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, red/purple cabbage, and spinach. All of these vegetables have beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A (retinol) in the body. Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin, a strong immune system, and eye/vision health. You can also find vitamin K in some of the other amazing autumn vegetables like kale, spinach, turnip greens, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Vitamin K helps the body make proteins for healthy bones and normal blood clotting, like healing from a minor scratch. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, vitamin K is needed to produce four of the 13 proteins needed for blood clotting.
Since there are so many vegetables to choose from, it can be difficult to pick just one. Good thing you don’t have to! Check out the recipe below, it is sure to be the star of any holiday dinner party and it’s easy to make.
Autumn Veggie Bake
1 medium butternut or acorn squash
½ head red cabbage
1 medium red onion
1 – 2 cups kale or dark leafy greens
1 large sweet potato or yam
⅛ tsp. garlic powder
2 lb. baby carrots
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried sage leaves
1 tsp. crushed dried rosemary leaves
½ tsp. salt
Wash squash, then carefully cut off the bottom and stem end. Scoop out seeds and discard. Cut into one-inch pieces. (Note: it is easier to cut into cubes if you make several large slits through the skin with a sharp knife, then microwave three to five minutes)
Peel onion; cut into 16 wedges. Peel potato/yam; cut into one-inch pieces. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Chop cabbage into short pieces: two inches long and one inch wide. Rinse kale; chop into medium-sized pieces.
Heat oven to 425°F. Spray large cookie sheet/pan with cooking spray. Place squash, potatoes, onion, cabbage, kale, sweet potato, carrots, oil, garlic, sage, rosemary, and salt in bowl. Toss and pour into pan.
Roast uncovered 35 – 45 minutes, until vegetables are crisp/tender when pierced with a fork.
Kristen K. Hicks-Roof Ph.D., RDN, LDN is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida.