Thursday, October 20, 2011

Superfoods Part XIV

Time to appreciate the superfoods of the fall season, be sure not to miss these fabulous three foods.

Butternut Squash - Low in fat, butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. The folate content adds yet another boost to its heart-healthy reputation and helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects. The tangerine hue, of a squash indicates butternut's most noteworthy health perk. The color signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular it boasts very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration, as well as a supporter of healthy lung development in fetuses and newborns. What's more, with only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C. To top it off, butternut squash may have anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content. Incorporating more of this hearty winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

How to Prepare: Roast a butternut squash and use to make a sweet and creamy soup, boil and mash in combination with white or sweet potatoes, or even blend cooked squash with white beans, garlic and seasonings for a hearty dip.

Sweet Potato - This potato is rich in vitamins A, C, E, copper and fiber. This orange root vegetable is one of nature's candies. One cup cooked has 180 calories, 41 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber and 4 grams of protein.

How to Prepare: Easy as 1,2,3… Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet with tin foil. Wash and dry the potatoes. Poke holes with a fork, and you can rub with olive oil, or not. Bake for 45 minutes or until a fork inserted meets softness. Once they're done, let them cool. Then peel the skins off and enjoy. You can do almost anything with them. Eat them just as they are, or throw them in your food processor with some orange zest and a touch of cinnamon and clove, or make them into a healthy fry. 

Leeks – Like onions and garlic, Leeks belong to a vegetable family called the Allium vegetables. Since leeks are related to garlic and onions, they contain many of the same beneficial compounds found in these well-researched, health-promoting vegetables. They are a good source of dietary fiber, containing goodly amounts of folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. Easier to digest than standard onions, leeks have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.

How to Prepare: Sauté leeks and fennel and garnish with fresh lemon juice and thyme. Add finely chopped leeks to salads or slice them into an omelet or frittata. Prepare a cold soup made from puréed cooked leeks and potatoes. Add leeks to broth and stews for extra flavoring. Or braise leeks sprinkled with fennel or mustard seeds make a wonderful side dish for fish, poultry or steak.

Be sure to check out my past Super Food Entries:

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