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As we make our first foray into fall cuisine, we wanted to serve up the top 10 Primal-approved fall vegetables.
Read on to discover our picks for this autumn.
If you’re looking for a low-cal vegetable that packs a heavy nutritional punch, Belgian endive – or French endive, chicory or witloof, as it is also known – is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a great source of fiber, all for less than 8 calories per cup! Although available year round, Belgian endive peaks in late fall (November) and is generally good through early spring. When shopping for Belgian endive, look for smooth, pale yellow or white leaves that appear crisp in texture. Endives are best when steamed and their shape lends them well to serving as a vessel for various fillings. In addition, endives are delicious in salad or braised and served with a pot roast.
A member of the cabbage family, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C – providing 245% of your recommended daily allowance per 1 cup serving – as well as vitamin K and vitamin A. A multi-talented little vegetable, broccoli is thought to have excellent anti-cancer properties. The phytonutrient indole, for example, suppresses a chemical that is thought to support tumor growth, while sulforophane is thought to detoxify the body, flushing out potentially carcinogenic substances. As such, studies have linked the consumption of broccoli with a reduced risk of cancers of the bladder, liver, lung, colon, breast, ovaries and prostate. In addition, broccoli is an excellent source of bone-fortifying calcium and a great source of folic acid, which is thought to reduce the risk of birth defects. Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked, but recent studies suggest that if you do plan on cooking it, steaming is the best way to preserve all of the vegetables various enzymes and nutrients.
Another member of the cabbage – or brassica – family, Brussels sprouts are also much touted for their cancer-fighting properties. However, Brussels sprouts in particular are often touted for their fiber, containing 4 grams of equal parts soluble and insoluble fiber. In addition, these teeny tiny cabbages are also thought to provide significant cardiovascular benefits and help reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, a degenerative form of arthritis that often occurs with aging. Although available year round, Brussels sprouts peak in the fall. They are best cooked whole or sliced in half, and are tasty when steamed or sauteed and served as a side dish.
Available year round in grocery stores, cabbage will be at its best – and readily available at your local farmers’ market – towards the end of fall. As the head of the cabbage family, cabbage provides all of the health benefits of broccoli and Brussels sprouts, but, when juiced and drunk over the course of 10 days, can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to heal a peptic ulcer! When cooking cabbage – or just about any cruciferous vegetable – it’s important to note that breaking it apart – either through slicing, cutting or chewing – activates myrosinase enzymes, which in turn aid the release of anti-carcinogenic glucosinolates. Although these enzymes are denatured when you cook cabbage, you can preserve the amount of glucosinolates by slicing or chopping the cabbage and then letting it sit for between 10 and 15 minutes before lightly cooking, steaming or sautéing for no more than 5 minutes.
Guess what? This one’s another member of the cabbage family, it’s only real distinction being that it lacks the chlorophyll necessary to give it the vibrant green hue of its relatives. But if there’s one advantage cauliflower does have, it’s that it is so darn adaptable! Miss eating carb-laden mash potatoes or having your stir fry over rice? Cauliflower makes a believable – yet far healthier – alternative (and with just a flip of the food processor switch!) And, new research shows that if you sprinkle your cauliflower with the spice turmeric, you can reduce the severity of prostate cancer, both in terms of tumor growth and metastasis. Although people generally only eat the heads of the cauliflower (known as the curds), the stem and leaves are also edible and can be used to add some extra flavor to soup stocks.
Peaking in October, celeriac – which is often referred to as celery root, knob celery, and turnip rooted celery – is by far one of the ugliest vegetables, but certainly one of the healthiest. An excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese, celeriac is thought to lower blood pressure and may also help to reduce stroke risk, with one study from Harvard University suggesting that men who ate nine servings a day of celeriac and other potassium-rich foods had a 38% reduced risk of stroke. When purchasing celeriac, look for firm, small-to-medium, sprout-free roots. The nutritional benefits of celeriac are best preserved when the root is sliced and added to salads, although it is also delicious when boiled (which helps to dilute this root-vegetables somewhat pungent taste) and added to soups or stocks.
Yes, onion’s are available year round, but they are truly at their peak in the fall and winter. A true staple in the kitchen, onions are used to add flavor to sauce, soup, stew, eggs, salads or heck, even as a side dish all on their lonesome! Sulfur, the compound in the onion that gives it that great taste, also provides many of its health benefits. For example, sulfur is though to reduce blood pressure and may also help to regulate blood cholesterol. In addition, onions are rich in chromium, which is thought to help prevent fluctuations in blood glucose levels, and contains a number of flavonoids that promote gastrointestinal health and reduce the risk of several types of cancer. Still not convinced? Onions have a number of anti-inflammatory agents that can help reduce the severity of symptoms associated with arthritis, asthma, and even the respiratory inflammation associated with good ol’ seasonal cold and flu!
If there were ever a symbol that fall has arrived, it’s the pumpkin! In fact, pumpkin is such a great fall vegetable, that tomorrow we’ll be dedicating an entire post to these tubby orange orbs and we’ll be following up with a whole slew of Primal-approved – and fall friendly – recipes!
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: Spinach is one heck of a vegetable! Spinach is a great source of vitamin K and vitamin A, as well as folate, magnesium and iron. In terms of specific health benefits, the various compounds in spinach are thought to help reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including tumors of the stomach, prostate, and skin, and also act as an anti-inflammatory to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with asthma, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. When shopping for spinach, look for firm, crisp, deep green leaves. Spinach is great as a base for salads, delicious when added to soups or casseroles to provide bulk or simply on its own, cooked, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and black pepper.
There is much debate surrounding whether zucchini is technically a summer or fall vegetable – and even more debate over whether zucchini is a fruit or a vegetable! – but suffice to say, it’s around for most of the fall and definitely makes for a hearty addition to most fall dishes. Zucchini is perhaps best known for its vitamin C content, but also is considered a good source of vitamin A and lutein, which is important for eye health, as well as folate and potassium. In addition, zucchini can promote blood health, with studies suggesting that this tasty vegetable can support capillary health and lower high homocysteine levels.
What are your favorite fall vegetables? Share your recipes in the comment boards!