9 Autumn Superfoods for Nature Lovers
By Cal Orey
Hello sweet fall! The word is, the autumnal equinox arrives on Tuesday, September 22. As we cope with Mother Nature’s unpredictable twists and turns (and eagerly anticipate our clean mountain air and clear blue skies), there are plenty of super wonders to embrace in the new season right now!
· Potassium-Rich Foods: Bananas, dried apricots and cranberries are high in potassium and used in baking during fall. They act as natural diuretics, which may reduce bloating. These are good plain or put into all-natural healthful nut breads and muffins that you make and bake.
· Cheese: Don't skip good cheese because it's a good source of calcium and other nutrients such as protein and vitamin A--and it's creamy and tasty in veggie pastas and hot, toasty sandwiches. But think moderation and real cheese (no fake stuff). Sharp cheddar, feta, provolone are good to get satisfaction from a small amount.
· Nuts: Almonds (as are other nuts) used in cooking and baking are a great godsend. They're high in zinc, rich in antioxidant E, contain some B vitamins, and sodium is very low. The crunchy texture is great in a fall salad or nutrient-dense chewy cookie without chemicals and preservatives and chock-full of those dried fruits.
· Chocolate: Not just a fall holiday food--it's a year-round health food. Dark chocolate sea salt cashews, for instance, contain protein and iron. Nine scrumptious nuts contain about 200 calories, zero cholesterol, only 60 mg sodium--and its compounds can give you that feel-good boost for your mind, body, and spirit. Count on it. Chocolate is oh so versatile--it's not just a dessert. And yep, it can help you cut craving for fattening sweet foods.
· H20: It's more of a challenge to drink water (not a food exactly but essential for survival) than eat chocolate in the colder months but it can be done. Yeah, I'm doing it now. Try adding a twist of orange, lemon or orange to bottled water. If you purchase water, you'll feel more obligated to drink up! It's good for you from head to toe...
· ...Herbal Tea. Speaking of water, sipping a cup (or two) of a hot, steaming and healing herbal teas (such as vitamin C-rich rose hips and chamomile) can help you to fight colds and flu; relieve stress and anxiety (so you won't be tempted to overeat). Black and green teas are chock-full of disease-fighting antioxidants. One cup of green tea has no fat, sodium, sugar, or calories.
· Tomatoes: These little wonders--hot or cold-are rich in the antioxidant lycopene--a cancer fighter and wonder for filling whole grain rice dishes for dinner to healthy and fresh salads. One cup of chopped tomatoes has just 35 calories. Because of this, tomatoes are a fat-free, nutrient-rich, and versatile fall filler in many hearty meals.
· Pumpkin: The alpha carotene in pumpkin (like sweet potatoes), a fall favorite, makes this superfood a nutritional bonanza, rich in heart-healthy carotenoids, potassium, magnesium, and folate, all of which may protect you from heart disease. This comfort food has only 25 calories per half cup and no fat. During the colder days, a warming and healthful dessert is a slice of pumpkin pie (store bought or homemade) teamed with a steaming cup of hot coffee.
A Bonus Food: A Cup of Cocoa: Don't forget savoring a cup of hot chocolate made with low-fat milk or water for that European touch--and it will nurture your spirit and warm your soul.
(Excerpt adapted from The Healing Powers of Superfoods)
-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.