When we think of fall and produce, we typically think of apples, pears and squashes but there are so many additional options that are powerhouses in their own right. Below are four nutrient-dense veggies to add to your paleo diet this Fall.
Nutrient Dense Seasonal Fall Vegetables
Some say they taste like dirt, others refer to them as ‘earthy’. Either way, these root vegetables provide a powerhouse of nutrition. Beets have a unique antioxidant profile not found in many other vegetables. The red color is due to the antioxidant betalain and when coupled with manganese and vitamin C this combination of antioxidants shows special support for eye health and nerve tissue health.
Beets help us regulate our inflammatory status in the body, support detoxification, have anti-cancer properties and are a good source of fiber. Honestly, I could go on and on! Shred them and add them to your salads, roast them like in the Rosemary Garlic Roasted Veggies dish from Paleo on the Go, make beet soup (I love this in the fall!) and my all-time favorite ferment, beet kvass.
Cabbage is a brassica, and one that seems so unassuming but its benefits are far-reaching. Cabbage has high levels of antioxidants, even in the lightest colored cabbages but red cabbage has the highest with about 30 milligrams of polyphenols per half cup.
All brassicas are considered to be anti-cancer but it is the compound glucosinolates found in cabbage that gives them the edge. In the body, glucosinolates get converted to isothiocyanate compounds that support us against cancer by either helping to regulate inflammation in the body or by supporting detoxification (depending on how the body uses the compound). These compounds have been shown to be preventive against bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer.
If that weren’t enough to make cabbage a stand out vegetable, it is also incredibly healing to the digestive tract. (In fact, this is one of my favorite places to start when beginning a digestive healing protocol with clients.) Cabbage juice is soothing to the entire digestive lining and is well researched in its ability to heal stomach ulcers. The compound isothiocyanates also help regulate H. Pylori in the stomach.
Add cabbage to your diet by gently steaming it for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and leave for another 2 minutes before serving. You can also enjoy Paleo on the Go’s Apple Cabbage or the Savory Apple and Cabbage Pork.
Fennel is that strange, if not otherworldly looking vegetable in the supermarket. A bulb down at the bottom and green stalks sprouting out its top. The bulb, stalks, leaves and seeds are all edible, although some parts are more fibrous than others. Fennel is related to parsley, carrots and dill.
Fennel has a strong antioxidant profile most noted is the anethole compound. This particular compound has shown repeatedly to reduce inflammation, prevent cancer and protect the liver from toxic chemical injury.
Fennel is high in vitamin C helping to neutralize free radicals and support the immune system. Fennel is also a good source of fiber, folate (helping keep homocysteine levels down) and potassium (helping to keep blood pressure down).
Enjoy fennel sautéed with onions, added to your roast chicken dish, or raw in a salad. You can even enjoy Paleo on the Go’s Cajun Keilbasa Alfredo seasoned with fennel seeds.
Leeks are alliums like garlic, shallots and onions but have a more delicate and possibly even sweeter taste. Once revered by the Greeks and Romans for their benefits on the throat and ability to strengthen one’s voice, leeks have had a long history.
One of my favorite benefits of leeks is their concentrated form of folate, an important nutrient in the methylation pathway used to help detox estrogen, dopamine, histamines and heavy metals. Folate also helps keep homocysteine levels low and therefore supports our cardiovascular system as well. The bulb of the plant has the most concentrated amounts of folate.
Leeks are also a great source of antioxidants with their polyphenol content rivaling peppers and cherry tomatoes. Leeks are a great addition to add to an autoimmune paleo diet or anti-inflammatory diet. They are most widely available in fall through early spring and add a nice change of flavor to soups and stews or a frittata.
Enjoy experimenting with these vegetables in your kitchen this fall!
Mateljan, G. (2015). Worlds Healthiest Foods, 2nd Edition. GMF Publishing
Minich, D. (2016) Whole Detox. New York: Harper Collins.