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National Restaurant Association - Ask the Nutritionist: Add color to menus with fall fruits and vegetables

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Ask the Nutritionist: Add color to menus with fall fruits and vegetables

In her latest Ask the Nutritionist commentary, the National Restaurant Association’s Director of Food & Healthy Living Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., highlights fall fruits and vegetables that make excellent additions to both adult and kids' menus. The Association's Kids LiveWell program also encourages the use of more produce in kids meals.

DSC_0022.JPGIn-season produce keeps restaurant menus fresh and exciting - and colorful. Fall and winter produce reflects the colors of changing foliage, with yellows, oranges, greens and reds that generally remain with the fruits or vegetables throughout the cooking process. Dishes created with seasonal favorites - like winter squash, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes - add both flavor and visual appeal to seasonal menus.

Incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet provides an array of various nutrients. For example, there are thousands of antioxidants called polyphenols, which provide beneficial health effects. Fruits and vegetables are a natural, terrific source for these antioxidants to help keep your body functioning at its best.

Research studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Many fruits and vegetables are low in calories, naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free. As a visual aid, MyPlate recommends making ½ your plate fruits and vegetables in order to ensure you are getting the recommended 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.

Below are some fruits and vegetables that are in season this time of the year:

DSC_0052.JPG• Pumpkin – Halloween pumpkins are edible, but canned pumpkin also work. A ¾ cup serving provides a good source of vitamin C and is an excellent source of vitamin A.

• Acorn squash – a ½ cup serving is a good source of vitamin C.

• Butternut squash – a ½ cup serving provides a good source of vitamin C.

• Brussels sprouts – a four-sprout serving is a good source of dietary fiber, high in vitamin C, and good source of folate (B vitamin).

• Cranberries - a ½ cup serving provides a good source of vitamin C and fiber.

• Artichokes – a ½ cup serving provides a good source of vitamin B1 and iron.

• Citrus fruit, such as grapefruit, orange and tangerine - 1/2 grapefruit or one medium orange a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin A and C.

• Sweet potato – one medium sweet potato provides a good source of dietary fiber, high in vitamin A, high in vitamin C and good source of potassium.

DSC_0031.JPG• Mushrooms - a serving of five medium mushrooms provides a good source of niacin, copper and pantothenate (B vitamin). They also provide a unique source of the antioxidant ergothioneine.

While these produce items are typically in season during the fall and winter months, other fruits and vegetables may be more difficult to obtain. If you can't find fresh varieties, try frozen, dried, canned or jarred fruit and vegetables. Just watch out for added sugar, which can quickly increase the calories.

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