by Cindy Miskowiec & Christie Reid of Synchronicity Wellness
In Central Oregon, the autumn harvest brings a variety of healthful and delicious produce, from squash and sweet potatoes to apples and pears. While almost all produce can be grown somewhere year-round, trucking produce across the country (or across the world) isn’t easy. Buying local seasonal produce not only potentially reduces our carbon footprint and helps local economies, but it may also result in more nutritious produce.
A great resource for buying local is the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance whose mission is “to support a healthy & thriving food and farm network in Central Oregon through education, collaboration and inclusivity.” You can visit their website at hdffa.org for more information. Another awesome local resource here in Bend is Agricultural Connections (AC). AC delivers farm-fresh food year-round. They sell LOCAL (Central Oregon) and REGIONAL (throughout Oregon) food that bridges the gap between farmers and consumers. They strive to supply Central Oregon homes, companies, restaurants and grocery stores with the freshest, most authentically local, organically grown and high quality products year-round. Visit their website at agriculturalconnections.com to find out more.
So why not dig into fall fruits like apples and cranberries, which offer essential vitamins and antioxidants that slow aging and may help fight cancer? On the veggie side, the entire cruciferous family such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, is in season and offers a compound known as glucosinolates that may also have cancer-fighting potential. And who could forget about squash? These big, bright gourds offer healthy alpha- and beta-carotene, which promote good eyesight. To get the best of what fall has to offer, check out our top autumnal produce picks that are both delicious and super healthy.
Apples — These sweet and crunchy fall favorites are packed with antioxidants, which may help prevent chronic illness and slow aging. Among popular apple varieties (and there are more than 7,500 different types), Fuji apples have the highest concentration of phenolics and flavonoids, while Cortland and Empire apples have the lowest. Quince, a floral-flavored cousin of the apple, is also at its best in autumn and can be added to jams, jellies and desserts — but it is inedible raw.
Beets — They may be available year-round, but beets are at their best in the fall. Besides the familiar reddish-purple color, you can also find golden, white and even multi-colored beets. When shopping, look for firm, smooth bulbs and (if attached) bright, crisp greens. Toss the greens in salads and roast the beets for their betaine — a compound that may help prevent heart and liver disease — and nitrate, which may increase blood flow to the brain and potentially reduce risk of dementia.
Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage — Packed with vitamins A and C, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, boast high concentrations of cancer-fighting glucosinolates, which also give these veggies their distinct flavor.
Cranberries — Cranberries taste their best October through November, though only five percent actually make it to the fresh produce section (the other 95 percent are dried, canned or turned into juice). Research suggests cranberry concentrate can help prevent urinary tract infections and that fresh cranberries can help prevent oral diseases and slow the growth of cancer.
Pears — These sweet fruits fall into two major categories: European and Asian. In the U.S. the European varieties, Bosc and Bartlett, are most common and grow on the west coast during fall. Pears are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. To get that daily dose of fiber and to satisfy a sweet tooth, snack on the fruit whole or incorporate into recipe.
Pumpkins — Though technically a member of the squash family, with their rich history and health benefits, pumpkins earn their own spot on our list. Pumpkin is one of the best sources of alpha- and beta-carotene, which can be converted into retinol to promote healthy vision and cell growth. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help those with heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Toast them up for a delicious treat!
Rutabagas & Turnips — These root veggies aren’t winning any beauty pageants with their bulbous shape and occasionally hair-like roots, but what they lack in looks they make up for in nutrition. Research suggests eating turnips and rutabagas may help reduce the risk of prostate and lung cancers. What’s more, turnip greens are a source of calcium, and one cup of raw rutabaga offers a respectable three grams of fiber.
Sweet Potatoes — These orange beauties have the best flavor during fall, their peak season. Like squash, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which can prevent vitamin A deficiencies, promote healthy eyesight and generate retinol production. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C.
We started Synchronicity Wellness to help individuals make positive dietary and lifestyle changes to improve their health. Specifically we help with weight management, stress management, and digestive issues. We both have improved our own health immensely by making these types of changes and that’s really what brought us into this profession. Most approaches to healthy eating dwell on calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Instead of creating lists of restrictions and good and bad foods, we work with our clients to explore basic improvements and implement gradual changes during our work together. As these pieces accumulate, our clients find these changes collectively creating a much larger impact than they originally anticipated. We work on what they want to improve within the circumstances of their unique situation. We practice a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that we look at how all areas of your life are connected. Does stress at your job or in your relationship(s) cause you to overeat? Does lack of sleep or low energy prevent you from exercising? As we work together, we will look at how all parts of your life affect your health as a whole.
photos courtesy of Synchronicity Wellness