The Maple Leafs turn red and yellow. And we’re not talking about the hockey team.

autumn“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face” – John Donne

Autumn is on the way. The world is starting to organize into a winter sleep. The trees strip off their leaves after a glorious display of colour. The days get shorter as evening descends on us earlier and earlier each day. And every once in a while, there is a hint of snow in the air.

There is no need to be upset about the end of summer. With the return of sweaters and hockey also comes the fall harvest that presents many delicious fruits and vegetables. And since Sandman has many hotels located in Western Canada, resulting in close proximity to farms and tasty produce, we’ve compiled the top 10 reasons to love autumn and the top 10 healthiest fall fruits and vegetables. Enjoy!

Ten reasons to love autumn:

  1. Breathable air – No more being stifled by the heaviness of humidity in the air. Autumn brings that crisp, cool air.
  2. Open windows – curtains blowing, hair whipping, papers flying!
  3. Hockey – It’s time to trash talk your best friends. No matter who you cheer for, everyone can agree they dislike the Leafs. Unless of course you’re from Toronto, and then you dislike everyone else.
  4. Warm blankets –There’s nothing like a soft, warm, fluffy blanket! Who doesn’t want to curl up with a blanket and their favourite book?
  5. Pumpkins – Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pudding, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin tarts, pumpkin carving…
  6. Hot Apple Cider – Warm and spicy and feel free to add a little nip of something extra, if you’d like.
  7. Halloween – It’s a magical time. Time to dress up in something silly or sit together at night and watch scary movies with the lights off.
  8. Spiced Wine – A lighter wine for the spring and summer is nice, but mulled wine and port in the evening help to take the chill off on those cold autumn nights.
  9. Fall colours – Fall has the most impressive colour palette out of all the seasons. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Eastern Canada during the fall, you really get to experience a true Canadian autumn.
  10. Thanksgiving – The eating holiday of all eating holidays! Turkey, gravy, apple pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and stuffing.

fall-veggies1If you’re still not convinced, maybe the talk of food will help. Even though the days of bright berries, crisp salads, and succulent summer fruit are behind us for another year, there are delicious replacements on the way to help you keep your healthy eating habits.

Autumn is a season of deep green, dark yellow, and brilliant orange, and these colours mean the fruits and vegetables are rich in disease-fighting nutrients. The more colourful the fruit, the better it is for your health.

Here are our top 10 picks for the most delicious and healthy autumn fruits and veggies.

parsnips1. Parsnips. These might look like white carrots, but they have a delicate, sweet flavour. While they don’t contain the same high amounts of vitamin A as carrots, parsnips are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Look for smooth and firm, small to medium sized parsnips for the best quality.

2. Turnips and swedes. A member of the mustard family, turnips – known as swedes in Scotland and Ireland – have a white flesh with a tough outer skin that ranges from yellow to purple, and a more bitter flavour than potatoes. They are a good source of vitamin C and offer 2-3 grams of dietary fibre per serving. Like their cousins, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, these cruciferous vegetables contain the potent phytochemical sulforaphane, which has been shown to protect against cancer, especially breast cancer.

Sweet Potato3. Sweet potatoes. Despite its name, the sweet potato is not related to the potato. Potatoes are classified as tubers, while the sweet potato is a storage root. Good-quality sweet potatoes will be firm, smooth-skinned and tan to light rose colour. They are high in vitamin C and provide three grams of fibre per serving. Sweet potatoes are an ideal choice for people with diabetes, since they are considered a low glycaemic food. This means that the carbohydrate in sweet potatoes is released slowly, which helps maintain steady blood sugar levels.

4. Pumpkins. These are more than just Halloween decorations. The pumpkin’s bright orange colour is a dead giveaway that it’s loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene, as well as being rich in vitamin C and folate. Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and protect against heart disease. Even the seeds are packed with nutritional value. In fact, they are only second to peanuts in protein content and a good source of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

winter squash5. Winter squash. While summer squash tends to be tender and moist with edible seeds and rind, winter squash develops hard rinds and the tough seeds and fibrous centre are inedible and must be scooped out. Winter squash is one of the few vegetables that do not lose quality after picking. In fact, during storage, the beta-carotene (vitamin A) content increases, and they contain more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. They are also a good source of heart-healthy nutrients, folate, and fibre.

6. Clementines. These are the baby cousins of the Florida or navel orange and are also known as mandarin oranges. They can be quite difficult to distinguish from tangerines, as they are both bitter orange hybrids, but the main difference is that clementines are often seedless.

7. Apples. Apples contain flavonoids, some of the most potent antioxidants around. Several studies have shown that people who eat a diet that’s rich in flavonoids have a lower risk of heart disease and heart attacks as well as several types of cancer.

pears8. Pears. Pears are a high-fibre food, with a medium pear providing four grams of fibre, which is equivalent to one and a half cups of brown rice. Most of the fibre is also of the soluble kind, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.

cranberries9. Cranberries. If you are looking for berries that ripen in the autumn, look no further than cranberries. Not only are they a healthy, low-calorie fruit, they also play a significant role in preventing urinary tract infections and reducing the risk of gum disease, ulcers, heart disease, and cancer. Cranberries contain anthocyanins, the heart-healthy antioxidants, which are also found in tea and red wine, and the compound that gives them their colour. Only about 10% of the commercial crop is sold fresh – mostly in September through to December. The rest can be found as juice, dried, or as cranberry sauce.

figs10. Figs. These often-overlooked fruits are full of flavour and their chewy texture makes them a tasty, nutritious addition to your diet. Figs are high in fibre (5 grams per 1½-ounce serving), which is more dietary fibre per serving than any other common dried or fresh fruit. They are also a good non-dairy source of calcium – the same amount of figs and milk provide equal amounts of calcium.

What are you making for dinner this autumn?

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