Photo of the author

Autumn note: Don’t ‘fall’ behind in your veggie consumption

It seemed as if a light switch was flipped after the recent fires.
The smoke and haze that was cleared away with the assistance of rainstorms brought on suddenly the feelings of Fall. In a matter of days it seemed summer became a thing of the past here in the Willamette Valley.
Summer gardens are being pulled up (for those who don’t winter garden) and the farmers markets are mostly closed now. Some of the more obvious ways of eating those oh-so-healthy veggies just don’t quite sound as appetizing now with the change of the weather.
Inevitably, the heavier foods of winter will be upon us and the excuse that salads just don’t sound good, smoothies are too cold and coleslaws are just for hot weather barbecues will fall from our lips. Let’s not give in to those excuses and neglect veggies, shall we?
We all know that veggies are good for us. They contain water and fiber, naturally satisfy hunger and suppress the sweet tooth. They nourish and fight inflammation with their antioxidants and phyto-chemicals.
Despite all this, in the Standard American Diet (SAD) they are overlooked, neglected and even disparaged. As the holidays approach, the subject of the dreaded holiday weight gain constantly comes up.
One of my top tips to avoiding unnecessary illness and weight gain in the holidays is to drink lots of water and to hit the veggies hard. It may sound overly simple, but it works. With that in view let’s remind ourselves of some fall-friendly ways of preparing and enjoying veggies.

Roasting is simply cooking veggies on a sheet pan in an oven. It yields a delicious outcome (much like its outdoor cousin, the BBQ) in cooked and sometimes crispy veggies (minus the char marks!).
It really doesn’t matter what shape you cut the veggies (strips, large slices, chunks, halves or whole….) it all works. (However, just remember that the size and thickness of your veggie will determine the amount of time necessary cook time).
To get the most out of the flavor and a crispy texture, toss cut veggies in a small amount of oil such as avocado or olive oil. (Note that olive oil isn’t as appropriate to use for temperatures over 400 F.)
Next, sprinkle on your favorite seasonings, such as garlic powder, sea salt, oregano or rosemary (or opt for premade seasoning mixes like Johnny’s Seasoning Salt or Mrs. Dash).
Typically, I prefer a pretty hot oven for roasting – around 400F, even up to 425F. If you want to do things a little slower, aim for a lower temp of 350F.
The quickest cook time I typically have is 30 minutes, but it can take up to an hour if the veggies are large and the oven is full.
Great veggies to roast include carrots, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and winter squashes such as butternut, acorn, delicate, hubbard etc. Roast your own french fry equivalent (a kid-friendly favorite) in the oven by using any root vegetable: potatoes, yams, turnips and rutabagas.
Basically, if you are unsure how to try a new and strange veggie, chances are if you roast it, you will love it! You won’t be sorry!

Stuff It
Portabella mushrooms, peppers and all kinds of winter squash all have hollows or holes in their centers, which make them perfect to stuff with all kinds of tasty fillings. You can fill them with more (cooked) veggies and rice or seasoned (cooked) beef or chicken.
It should be noted that whatever filling type you decide on, it should be fully cooked (normally sautéed) prior to stuffing the veggie.
Once filled, you will want to additional heat or fully cook the veggie “boat” in the oven, microwave or barbecue. While they do require some more prep than other cooking methods, stuffed veggies look particularly great as individual servings when serving holiday guests. It’s an impressive crowd-pleaser!
One additional “version” of this stuffed veggie is to do what I call “pizza-fying” a veggie. Instead of making a complicated stuffing, simply spread some pizza sauce on the sliced veggie, add garlic powder or a basil leaf and some cheese and reheat until cheese is melted! (If you are doing this with squash, you need to fully cook the squash first or it won’t be soft enough to eat).

Soups and Stews
The sky is truly the limit when it comes to soups and stews!
It is easy load veggies into a soup or stew without negatively affecting the flavor. In fact, they add to it. Even if the recipe calls for very few vegetables, it’s easy to add in plenty more.
Don’t limit yourself to just potatoes and carrots either (as fabulous as those are. Corn, peas, yams, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and tomatoes are all fabulous additions.
One trick to thicken a “creamy” soup, while cutting out some of the higher-calorie ingredients, is to add cooked cauliflower and blend it into the soup. It’s white, it thickens the broth and chances are your guests won’t really even know it’s there!
So there you have it: three reminders of simple ways to prepare veggies this fall. Try out the two recipes included below. (Note: One doesn’t “technically” highlight a veggie that is roasted, stuffed or stewed, but it showcases winter squash which is in season and you do end up baking it the oven… so it sort of counts!)
If you want more ideas for your holiday fare this season, then stay tuned for next month’s recipes highlighting healthy, holiday-friendly recipes to take and make for those parties!

Maple Cranberry Brussels Sprouts
(Original recipe by Pure & Simple Nourishment)
1½ brussels sprouts
3 tbsp avocado oil
2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
8 oz. fresh cranberries
3  tbsp maple syrup use Grade C
Preheat oven to 400F
Trim the stems off of the brussels sprouts and cut them in half
Add the cut brussels sprouts to a bowl and add all the ingredients (except the maple syrup) and stir well to combine
Spread the brussels sprouts and cranberry mix onto a baking sheet, in a single layer
Bake for 15 minutes
Remove from oven and add the maple syrup, and stir well to combine
Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (until as crisp as you like)
Remove from the oven, serve, enjoy!

Simple Butternut Squash Souffle
(Original recipe by Heather Reslinger
from Create Delicious)
1 medium butternut squash
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk (coconut milk is a creamy milk alternative)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 egg whites
Note: While this recipe doesn’t have cranberries originally in it, it still is a seasonal recipe that is perfect for using up that winter squash you may be wondering what you are going to find uses for. (Dried cranberries would add eye-catching color on the top as a garnish.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour (try arrowroot starch if gluten-free) a casserole or souffle dish.
Poke the squash all over and microwave for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. (or cut in half and cook for 6 on manual, high heat in the Instant Pot)
Let cool a bit, cut in half, scoop out seeds, and scoop flesh into a food processor.
Add the egg yolks, milk, salt, and pepper to the food processor.
Process until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Whip the egg whites until stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the squash.
Transfer to the soufflé dish.
Bake for 40-50 minutes.

– Cathryn Arndt is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and owns a nutrition counseling business called The Pantry Lab LLC. She lives in Lebanon, Oregon with her husband and daughter. To learn more about Cathryn, visit her Facebook pag by searching under “Dietitian Cathryn.” Find her blog at thepantrylab.com