An array of vegetables and fruits complement fall salads. Here are 15 that are just right.
An array of vegetables and fruits complement fall salads.
As summer turns to fall,
warm-weather salads featuring components like strawberries, orange slices and edible flowers give way to offerings with more seasonally appropriate ingredients, says Elyse Krawtz, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Northside Hospital in Atlanta. “Fall salads can be beautiful with the rich colors characteristic of fall produce,” Krawtz says. “Fall is a good time to bring back root vegetables like beets, sweet potatoes and carrots.”
Here are 15 ingredients for healthy fall salads:
Fall is apple-picking season, and it’s also a great time to incorporate the fruit into a salad, says Patricia P. Araujo, a clinical dietitian with Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center in Chicago. Apple slices can complement a salad that’s built on a bed of spinach with gouda, walnuts, cranberries and brie cheese, for example.
The crispness of an apple provides a pleasant texture to a fall salad, without adding many calories. One medium-size apple has about 95 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Apples also provide vitamin C, some B vitamins, minerals and fiber. “I usually recommend (using) the whole apple versus the dried version,” Araujo says. “The dried fruit has less volume and is easier to over-consume. Also, some dried products have added sugars.”
Beets are a favorite for fall because they’re in season and provide folate, vitamin C, carotenoids and vitamin A, says Anna Kippen, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Cleveland Clinic. Beets, a root vegetable, are also associated with decreased blood pressure and inflammation in the body. “Not everyone realizes that they are edible, from their leafy greens all the way to the delicious, sweet root,” Kippen says.
Beets’ leaves can be sauteed with herbs and spices for a savory topping, or roasted to add crunch on your salad. “Try them on a bed of spring mix with slivered almonds, mandarin orange slices, feta, pine nuts and a balsamic vinaigrette,” Kippen suggests. One of her favorite combinations is beets chopped with onions, bell peppers, black beans for protein, lemon juice and olive oil.
(AP/Daniel J. van Ackere)
AP/Daniel J. van Ackere
Carrots are another great root vegetable to add to a salad, Araujo says. The orange-colored variety of the root vegetable is popular, but carrots come in other colors, too, such as purple, red, yellow and white. Carrots are a source of vitamin A, which plays a role in vision and immune function. If you’re skillful with a knife, you can use different cuts in the carrot to add a different consistency to your salads. For example, dice carrots into chunks or julienne them, which entails cutting the vegetable into long, thin strips. “But if you’re less experienced with a knife — or just looking for a quick salad — I recommend purchasing pre-washed and pre-cut carrots,” Araujo says. “They might cost more, but will save a lot of time.”
Shredded raw Brussels sprouts
If you’re looking for a twist on the classic salad of leafy greens, consider Brussels sprouts, Krawtz says. Mid-fall is the peak season for Brussels sprouts, which are rich in vitamin C and also provide some calcium, iron, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and magnesium. Krawtz suggests combining Brussels sprouts with chicken, quinoa, apple slices and a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette. “It’s a satisfying lunch on a fall day,” she says.
Speaking of fall salad options rich in vitamin C: Consider cauliflower, which provides potassium and vitamins B5 and B6, too. For all the nutrients it packs, cauliflower only contains 27 calories per cup. You can combine it with greens, slices of red or pink apples and roasted pumpkin and sweet potato. “To top it off, impress guests with freshly toasted pumpkin seeds, which are rich in magnesium and will fill your home with the most amazing savory fall aroma,” Krawtz says. A simple vinaigrette dressing is a good complement to this salad.
Like cauliflower, sweet potatoes are often thought of as a side dish, but they can be featured in a healthy and tasty fall salad along with classic ingredients like greens, Araujo says. “Who can resist anything bright orange during fall?” Araujo says. “My favorite way to incorporate sweet potatoes in salads is to roast them in olive oil until they’re fork tender, cube (them) and toss the chunks while they’re warm to top a salad bowl.” Sweet potatoes’ orange color comes from the pigment beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in our bodies, she says.
Kale is delicious any time of year, and its versatility makes it an ideal ingredient for a fall salad, Kippen says. You can roast kale into kale chips, which are a healthy replacement for croutons. Fresh kale can also be the main ingredient in a fall salad that includes apple slices and dried cranberries. “I like using (kale) instead of romaine lettuce because it stands up to salad dressing better and won’t wilt as quickly,” Kippen says. She suggests topping a kale salad with a light vinaigrette.
If you’re looking for a fall salad ingredient that provides a raft of options, consider mushrooms. Mushrooms are particularly abundant in fall and come in many varieties, Kippen says, such as porcini, truffles and puffball, to name a few. Mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in B vitamins and selenium. They’re also one of the only non-animal sources of vitamin D.””Mushrooms are a great addition to any fall salad,” Kippen says. “I love sautéing them and throwing them onto a bed of spring mix with a little chicken, splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and minced garlic with some pine nuts on top. Sometimes I’ll saute them with red peppers and tomatoes and toss with my lettuce for a flavorful salad.”
Another simple favorite is sauteing onions and mushrooms with a little olive oil and spices. Kippen suggests topping this salad with a homemade dressing like balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, thyme, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil.
Shredded red cabbage
Red cabbage is in season during the fall and winter. The vegetable’s red color comes from anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments that can cause the colors red, purple and blue in some vegetables and fruits. Research suggests anthocyanins contain antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help prevent chronic conditions like heart disease by protecting healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. Red cabbage is good for your waistline, too: One cup of chopped red cabbage has 22 calories, according to the USDA.
Shredded red cabbage makes a hearty base for Thai turkey salad, Krawtz says. To make it, chop red cabbage with cucumber, cilantro, mint, peanuts, chickpeas and plenty of fresh lime juice. Meanwhile, prepare ground turkey by cooking it with bold Thai flavors such as garlic, ginger, shallots, lime juice and fish sauce. (Good options for how to prepare the turkey include grilling, braising, pressure cooking, roasting or slow-cooking in a Crock-Pot.) Top the salad with cucumber, fresh chopped cilantro and mint, crushed peanuts, chickpeas and a generous amount of fresh lime juice. You’ll get a salad that’s tasty and nutritious; red cabbage is a great source of vitamins A, C and K, Krawtz says.
One of the best things about fall is looking around and seeing all of the different squash options back on the shelves of grocery stores, Kippen says. “Butternut squash can be delicious roasted with some flavorful spices, caramelizing the outside and making it crunchy with a soft middle,” she says. “I throw these onto my sweet and savory salads with a few dried cranberries, goat cheese on top and an apple cider vinegar-based dressing. I also enjoy it with a little quinoa and garbanzo beans.” You can mix all these ingredients with chicken and lots of kale to make a crunchy and savory salad. Butternut squash is a rich source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and many different carotenoids that help with immune functioning as well as bone and eye health, Kippen says. It also provides magnesium, manganese and potassium.
Tomatoes and tomatillos
Tomatoes and tomatillos are terrific components of fall salads, Araujo says. (Tomatillos are small, roundish fruits that resemble miniature tomatoes. They come in an array of colors, including green, yellow and red.) Both fruits are usually available from summer through part of fall. There’s only one type of tomatillo, but tomatoes are available in different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Tomatoes and tomatillos are both versatile. “We can really vary how they’re used in salads,” Araujo says. Either fresh or marinated in olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette and herbs, tomatoes and tomatillos make great toppings for any leafy salad. Red tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytonutrient associated with warding off heart disease and some cancers, Araujo says.
If you want something sweet in your fall salad, try fresh pears, Kippen says. Pears are delicious and juicy in the fall, and a sweet addition to salad instead of apples, Kippen says. You can choose from an array of pears, including Bosc, Bartlett and Anjous pears. The fruit is a rich source of minerals, such as copper and potassium, and associated with improved gut health because of its soluble fiber. Remember to eat pears with the peel because it contains lots of healthy fiber. “You can use them thinly sliced on top of salad or pureed into salad dressing for some sweetness,” Kippen says. For an easy-to-make fall salad, try sliced pears and a little rich cheese over a bed of spinach.
Persimmons are another tasty fruit that can be part of a healthy fall salad, Kippen says. “They are a lovely bright orange color and are rich in fiber (as well as) vitamin A, C, E and B6,” she says. Persimmons roughly resemble orange-colored tomatoes but are a lot sweeter.
There are two popular types of persimmon: the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The latter type is shaped like an acorn and must be fully ripe and soft before it’s sweet and full of taste. The Fuyu persimmon is round and squat; it isn’t astringent, which means it can be consumed while still firm. Persimmons have high amounts of vitamin A and contain nutrients associated with improved blood pressure.
Kippen suggests trying a fresh persimmon spinach salad. This salad is easy to put together: Start with a bed of spinach and add sliced persimmons on top, along with pumpkin seeds and an orange vinaigrette.
Pomegranates are ripe, sweet and juicy in the fall. “I use pomegranates in a variety of fall salads,” Kippen says. One such salad features chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped purple onion, fresh basil and pomegranate seeds with a splash of olive oil. “It’s refreshing and easy to make,” she says. “Another option is to try a bed of spinach topped with walnuts, pomegranate seeds and a balsamic vinaigrette.” Pomegranates are rich in vitamins C, E and K and have lots of fiber, which helps you feel sated.
(AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez
One of the great things about fall is the ability to stop by your local farmer’s market and grab a zucchini for salads, Kippen says. Zucchini can go on salads fresh and shredded as a crunchy addition. “Try sauteing it lightly with some olive oil and mixing in tomatoes, with a little sliced chicken and mozzarella,” Kippen says. “You’re missing out if you’ve never tried grilled zucchini over a bed of spring mix and some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and goat cheese.” In addition to being rich and savory, zucchini is good for you: It contains vitamin A and several antioxidants, and it’s helpful in improving digestion and heart health.
To recap, here are 15 healthy fall salad ingredient suggestions:
— Shredded raw Brussels sprouts.
— Sweet potatoes.
— Shredded red cabbage.
— Butternut squash.
— Tomatoes and tomatillos.
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15 Healthy Fall Salad Ingredients originally appeared on usnews.com