Come fall, markets abound with vibrant squashes, pumpkins, and delicious root veggies and we couldn’t be happier about it! Although their sometimes funny appearance and tough exterior, especially for root vegetables  can be intimidating for the uninitiated — once you learn how to prepare them, they make the best comforting fall dishes. Case in point, this Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta With Broccoli and Kale and this amazing Moroccan Roasted Acorn Squash Soup.

Fall’s bounty’s appeal doesn’t only reside in the culinary realm, however — these colorful vegetables have a load of health benefits! The beautiful orange hue of pumpkins, carrots, and golden beets comes from beta-carotene which is an antioxidant found in the skin pigment of the vegetables. There’s also the powerful flavonoids, a phytochemical present in purple foods — think purple carrots, beets, and purple yams. Along with antioxidants, fall veggies are a great source of healthy carbs, vitamins, minerals, and fiber!

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Squashes, pumpkins, and root veggies each have their unique set of benefits — here are a few of the major ones:

1. PumpkinSavory Mushroom and Quinoa Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Source: Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

If there’s a vegetable that represents fall, it’s definitely pumpkin. This famous winter squash is incredibly healthy, as it contains B-vitamins, vitamin C, and E, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and copper. It’s also chock full of carotenoids, a powerful type of antioxidant. Among other things, it can help protect against heart disease, prevent cancer, and reduce your risk of developing age-related diseases.

Don’t know what to do with pumpkins besides carving them? Give this Quick Pumpkin and Carrot Curry, Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Chili, Pumpkin Gnocchi in Spiced Butter Sauce With Lemon Cashew, and this Portobello Pumpkin Ravioli With Sage and Walnut Pesto a try! You can also check out these 10 Ways to Cook With Pumpkin Flesh and Seeds and These 15 Ultimate Pumpkin Recipes!

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2. Butternut SquashChickpea and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash

Source: Chickpea and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash

This type of squash is among the most popular and with reason — it’s delicious and full of healthy vitamins. Butternut squash is a good source of vitamin A, C, and E, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese, and fiber. It’s an important source of beta-carotene as well, which is an antioxidant that can help you prevent heart disease and many types of cancer. Butternut squash can also give you a stronger immune system because of its high vitamin C content, and better skin and hair from its vitamin A and E. Who would have thought?

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Butternut squash is very versatile, you can use it in many types of dishes. Try it in this No-Noodle Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Lasagna, Butternut Squash, Potato and Kale Casserole, and this Creamy Butternut Squash Curry. Check out also these Butternut Squash Steaks, Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Burgers, and these Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Tofu Tartlets for a comforting fall meal.

3. Acorn SquashWild Rice and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

Source: Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Acorn squash is packed with vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and fiber. As such it can boost your immune system, help your vision, give you healthy teeth and bones, and healthy glowing skin! The beta-carotene present in acorn squash contributes to fighting against free-radicals and protects you against cancer and other diseases. The potassium and fiber contained in the squash will also help prevent high blood pressure, and reduce your risk of getting diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Get in the kitchen and try this Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe. We also suggest making this Moroccan Roasted Acorn Squash SoupAcorn Squash Ravioli in Thyme Garlic ButterBaked Acorn Squash With Nut-Free Spinach Pesto, and this Roasted Acorn Squash With Curried Chickpea and Veggies. You won’t regret it!

4. KabochaStuffed Kabocha With Quinoa and Chickpeas

Source: Stuffed Kabocha With Quinoa and Chickpeas

Kabocha is said to be like pumpkin’s sweeter cousin, to which we can’t disagree. However, that’s not all this Japanese squash has going for it — it has sweet nutritional benefits as well. It’s full of B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, and fiber. It’s also an excellent source of carotene which, as you know, plays an important role in fighting free-radicals in the body. Thus, kabocha is a great anti-inflammatory food and a great ally when it comes to preventing diseases caused by inflammation. Namely, consuming kabocha will help you prevent cancers and chronic diseases like diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Wonder what to do with kabocha? This squash is great in a variety of dishes — try this Curried Kabocha Soup, Kabocha With Maple Butter Glaze and Fried Sage, Wild Rice With Kabocha Squash and Sage Butter, Sake-Stewed Miso Kabocha Squash, and this Stuffed Kabocha With Quinoa and Chickpeas.

5. Spaghetti SquashSpaghetti Squash with Meatballs [Vegan]

Source: Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs 

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This squash gets its name from the way its flesh forms spaghetti-like strands once it’s cooked. As such, it makes a great pasta substitute if you’re looking for a healthier and more nutrient-rich alternative. Spaghetti squash is high in folic acid, potassium, vitamin A and C, b-vitamins, fiber, and it’s naturally low in sodium. These nutritional characteristics mean that spaghetti squash can help you manage your weight, and prevent cardiovascular disease. The beta-carotene present in its flesh also makes it a perfect inflammation-fighting food.

Try this Spaghetti Squash With Meatballs, Spaghetti Squash With Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Black Bean and Spaghetti Squash Casserole, and this Spaghetti Squash With Basil and Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo. Spaghetti squash is also great in dishes like these Spaghetti Squash and Quinoa Savory Waffles, and these Taco-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Boats.

6. BeetsWood Fired Beet Salad with Avocado-Citrus Vinaigrette

Source: Wood Fired Beet Salad with Avocado-Citrus Vinaigrette

These roots come in many different colors and shapes, you have red, white, golden (or yellow), Chiogga (striped), and even baby beets! All types of beets contain a high amount of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and C, iron, potassium, folic acid, B-vitamins, and fiber. These colorful roots are packed with antioxidants like lycopene, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and zeaxanthin, as well. Since they’re a nutrition powerhouse, these babies can protect you from inflammation, and cancers. They also fight off anemia, fatigue, and are natural kidney cleansers.

Not familiar with how to prepare beets? Check out these 10 Ways to Cook With Beets, and these 10 Simple Beet Recipes For The Fall. Then try this Wood Fired Beet Salad With Avocado-Citrus Vinaigrette, Garlic Zucchini and Beet Noodle Salad, and this Bright Beet Salad With Quinoa and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. This Golden Beet Panzanella, and this Beet Risotto With Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms also make a perfect side dish for your fall dinners.

7. Turnips

Scallop Turnips de Provence

Source: Scallop Turnips de Provence

For those unfamiliar with turnip, this root is actually in the Brassica family of which kale, cabbage, and brussels sprouts are also a part. Like all vegetables under the Brassica umbrella, turnips have a high nutritional value. They contain B-vitamins, vitamin A, C, and E, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and copper. Turnips are also an excellent source of antioxidants — glucosinolates and isothiocyanates — that contribute to fighting free-radicals and preventing inflammation and cancers.

If you want to reap all the benefits of turnips and eat delicious fall dishes featuring these roots, try these Turnip ‘Scallops’ de Provence, or these Red Wine Braised Black and Yellow Turnips, Chickpea Turnip Meatballs, and this amazing Lo Bak Gou: Cantonese Turnip Cake.

8. Onions

Oven-Dried Crispy Onions

Source: Oven-Dried Crispy Onions

We tend not to think of onions much other than to add flavor to our dishes but it should change because they’re actually nutritious and loaded with health benefits. Onions are a good source of vitamin C, B-vitamins, and manganese. They also contain small amounts of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. The main antioxidants present in onion flesh — quercetin and sulfur — contribute to fighting cancers and inflammation in our bodies. Onions can also help regulate our sleep and mood because of the folate they contain — this compound prevents an excess of homocysteine from forming in the blood, which interferes with the production of feel-good hormones.

Onions go great in pretty much any dish but if you want to make them the star of the meal, try this Onion Tomato Dal, these Onion Pakoras With Avocado Dipping Sauce, Baked Corn Flake Onion Rings, and this fall-inspired French Onion Soup with Cheese Toasts. Otherwise, you can use onions to add flavor in these Onion and Sweet Potato Pierogis, or these Mushroom and Lentil Burgers With Pickled Red Onion.

Recommended Resources and Recipes to Get You Started

Want to find more info on healthy fall veggies and how to use them? Here are a few articles that might interest you:

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