Flavorful Fall Produce for Long Term Care Menus

Wonder what’s in season you can use in your long term care menus?

Buying and eating produce in season has many benefits. It helps us support our local farmers, helps us eat more nutrient-dense foods (& enjoy them more because they’re fresh), and because the food doesn’t have to travel as far, it can often be cheaper as well. A win-win for our budgets and our long term care menus health!

Here are some fall favorites that are in season during these cooler months.

Apples – Apples are a complex carbohydrate, supplying our brains and bodies with energy. They are delicious, crunchy, and offer a punch of fiber to keep you full (keep the skin on!). Pair them with a protein such as almonds or string cheese and you’ll be satisfied for hours. Apples are also packaged with Vitamin C, important for maintaining supple, healthy skin due to their role in the formation of collagen, and keeping your immune system healthy (especially during cold & flu season!).

Broccoli– Besides being a low calorie cruciferous veggie (cancer-fighting!), broccoli is a good source of Protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese. Chock full of nutrients!

Beets – Beets are a fibrous vegetable, with plenty of phytochemicals giving beets their beautiful dark hue. Beets contain Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium, Fiber, Folate, Potassium, & Manganese. Beets have also been researched for their benefits on athletic performance due to their nitrate content – helping supply more oxygen to athletes’ muscles.

Leafy Greens – You’ve always been told to “eat your greens”, but do you know why they’re so good for us? Many reasons. First, they are well known for their role in cancer prevention. They’re also some of the highest in various vitamins like Vitamin A, C, and K, and full of fiber, with only 5 to 40 calories per cup serving (depending on type). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming at least 1½ cups of dark green vegetables per week, so enjoy them frequently whether it’s in salads, stir fries, or even added to smoothies. But because of their high vitamin K content, large amounts of leafy greens may interfere with the effects of blood thinners like warfarin. Anyone taking these medications should consult with a doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist.

Pecans – Pecans are a delicious nut filled with heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Research has shown that these type of fats, monounsaturated fats, such as those in pecans, can aid in preventing heart disease due to their effects on blood lipids. They are also naturally free of cholesterol and sodium – which are known to increase risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy delicious fat that makes a great addition to oatmeal, smoothies, or salads!

Radishes – A radish is a root vegetable, which is a a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate and Potassium (helps to decrease blood pressure). Not to mention, they are very low in calories!

Squash – Squash, whether it’s acorn squash, butternut squash, or spaghetti squash, are all in season during the fall months and are chock full of fiber, vitamin A (great for healthy eyesight), Vitamin E, Folate, Calcium, Thiamin, Niacin, and Potassium. They’re also free of cholesterol, fat, and sodium.

Sweet Potato – Sweet potato is full of Vitamin A, which gives it it’s beautiful orange color (beta-carotene, the plant pigment that’s converted into Vitamin A). Vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. 1 Baked sweet potato contains over 500% of the daily value for Vitamin A! It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Manganese.

Pumpkin – Similar to sweet potato and squash, pumpkin is high in fiber and flavor and low in cholesterol and fat. It is also an excellent source of many natural polyphenolic flavonoid compounds such as beta-carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin just like sweet potato and squash. Zeaxanthin doesn’t convert into vitamin A, but it protects our eyesight from age-related macular degeneration by acting as an antioxidant against UV rays. Pumpkin is great for making soups, pies, dips, or even as a snack with its roasted pumpkin seeds.

pumpkins

Now that you know what produce is in season and what you can include in your long term care menus for seniors, it’s time to get to cooking! Need recipe inspiration? Check out our “Fall Favorites” Recipe eBook” in our shop.