Orange is for October

pumpkinsIf ever a color was made for a month, it’s the color orange and October.  Orange leaves on trees, orange Halloween decorations, pumpkins and all the other orange vegetables of autumn.  The orange color indicates high content of carotenes, the inactive form of vitamin A.  There’s some thought that some of those plant pigments may have antioxidant activity and protect the retina of the eye from sun damage.

Here are some of the most familiar orange vegetables of autumn:

Pumpkins: While you wouldn’t want to cook a Jack ‘o Lantern pumpkin, pie pumpkins and all manner of other gourmet pumpkins can be cooked like squash.  The simplest method is to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and bake, cut side down, on an oiled baking pan.  But you can also use a hollowed out pumpkin to serve soup or stew, or use as a shell to bake a casserole.  Added benefit: you can eat the bowl.  Use pumpkin for pie, bread or muffins, or as the base for a creamy soup.  Sorry, Pumpkin Spice Lattes have no actual pumpkin.

Winter Squash: Bake them, using the pumpkin method above.  You can serve baked squash chunks right in the shell, or peel and mash.  Peel before cooking and add pieces to soups, casseroles or risotto.  There are plenty of squash varieties, including:

  • Butternut
  • Acorn
  • Turban
  • Dumpling
  • Delicata
  • Blue Hubbard

Find more information about squash varieties here.

Sweet potatoes: Like squash, sweet potatoes come in different varieties.  Bake whole, boil and mash, cut up and use in casseroles, or sauté and serve as a side dish or in a burrito.  Make an easy sweet potato enchilada casserole by layering slices of raw peeled sweet potato, grated Jack cheese and enchilada sauce in a casserole, baking until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.

Golden Beets: Cook them like regular beets.  They make a wonderful salad with a dash of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tarragon, black pepper and goat cheese.

Carrots: Yes they’re available all year, but they’re technically picked in autumn.  The only vegetable on the list you can eat without cooking.

Nutritionally speaking, these vegetables have more than the color orange in common.

  • High vitamin A
  • High potassium
  • Significant amounts of other minerals and B vitamins
  • High fiber
  • Low sodium and almost no fat

 

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