Use the colors of autumn for nutritious dishes

Who doesn’t love the vibrant colors of the changing season? “The rich red, orange and gold leaves are a sign that summer is over, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack on the holiday pounds.” says Megan Moore, dietetic intern with Seneca County Cornell Cooperative Extension. “Fall harvest provides many healthy options. Red and orange vegetables have a lot of vitamins and fiber, very few calories, and preparation can be pretty easy.” Try roasting butternut squash or sweet potatoes as a side dish, or use pumpkin in baking (but use smaller amounts of sugar and butter to keep the calories down). Vegetables and fruit that are red or orange contain vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyes, skin and teeth and also improves immunity. They also have vitamin C, potassium, folate, and iron. Like all fruits and vegetables, they are high in fiber. A study from Tufts University shows that people who eat more fiber tend to have smaller waistlines! According to ChooseMyPlate.org, over half your plate should be fruits or vegetables at every meal. The USDA recommends at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, in a rainbow of colors, including red and orange. Here are some fun ways to include them:Pumpkin Muffins1 cup all-purpose flour½ cup whole wheat flour½ cup light brown sugar, packed¼ cup white sugar1 ½ teaspoon baking powder½ teaspoon baking sodaPinch of salt1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (can substitute nutmeg or ginger,use whatever you like best)1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 large egg1 large egg white½ cup roasted pumpkin puree(canned is ok too, make sure it’s pure pumpkin without added sugar)2/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt3 Tablespoons canola oil½ teaspoon vanilla extractNon-stick cooking sprayOptional: ½ cup chopped nuts or dried fruitPreheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a medium bowl, mix egg, egg white, pumpkin, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix, the batter can be lumpy. Stir in nuts or dried fruits if desired. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray or line with paper muffin cups. Fill each cup ¾ full with batter. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes on middle rack of oven, or until muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool before serving. Makes 12 muffins, each muffin is 150 calories.Sweet Potato Oven Fries4 medium sweet potatoes1 ½ teaspoons of paprika1 teaspoon salt½ teaspoon ground black pepper¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper1 Tablespoon canola oilNon-stick cooking sprayPreheat oven to 450F. Scrub and rinse sweet potatoes. Pat dry with a paper or kitchen towel. Leaving skin on, cut sweet potatoes into thick French fry strips about ½ inch wide. Mix spices in a large mixing bowl, then add the oil and whisk until there are no lumps. Toss the French fries in the bowl until they are evenly coated. Line a baking sheet with foil, then coat with cooking spray and place sweet potatoes in single layer on the sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn fries over and bake for another 15 minutes or until fries are cooked through and tender. Serves 6 people, 8-10 fries each, 90 calories per serving(Recipes adapted from Cooking Matters.)Look for roadside produce stands or markets in your area to buy red and orange vegetables. Locally-grown produce is usually fresher, so it has more nutrients and also supports local farmers! Seneca County Cooperative Extension has resources for finding fresh, local produce. Ask for an “Experience the Farms” brochure and map, which features local farmers’ markets and U-pick produce. For preschoolers in Seneca County, dietetic intern Megan Moore will be teaching the students at ABCD at Seneca Falls ~ Seneca County Head Start about red and orange vegetables on October 27th. Remember to eat a rainbow of colored fruits and vegetables every day, including the Fall colors of orange, red and yellow. For more information about this topic, contact Seneca County Cornell Cooperative Extension at (315) 539-9251 or visit ChooseMyPlate.org.

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