Seasonal Goodies For Harlem Families

November 1, 2013

Seasonal Goodies PhotoBy Karen Smith-Hagman, RN, MSN

Now that the weather has gotten cold, keep your energy up with vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables.

Autumn offers an excellent opportunity to not only revel in seasonal activities such as pumpkin picking and trick-or-treating, but it is also the prime time to visit your local farmer’s market and stock up on some fresh fruits and vegetables in preparation for the winter weather.

Parsnips, for instance, are rich in dietary fiber and potassium. Just one cup of this sweet, juicy root vegetable, when sliced, provides more than 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber.

Adequate fiber in the diet can promote healthy digestion, reduce blood cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, prevent obesity and provide feelings of fullness.

In addition to fiber and potassium, parsnips are also very low in saturated fat, rich in vitamins K and C, and high in folate.

A member of the same vegetable family as onions and garlic and cultivated for thousands of years, leeks offer many health benefits and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

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Leeks are a rich source of vitamins A and C. Just one of these leafy, elongated stalks provides more than 30 percent of your recommended daily allowance.

Leeks also offer anti-bacterial properties, can help protect against heart disease and are high in potassium.

Potassium can aid in maintaining a normal blood pressure and fluid balance. It can also help muscles contract.

One of the spiciest pepper varieties on earth (of the same family as chili and jalapeno peppers), habanero peppers offer many health benefits in addition to their intense heat.

They are an excellent source of vitamin C and capsaicin, and they promote both respiratory and digestive health.

The following easy-to-make recipe is sure to delight, and will send you out into the crisp fall air to soak up all the season’s offerings:

Sautéed Vegetable Medley 


4 leeks, cleaned well and chopped

2 carrots, grated

2 parsnips, grated

1 onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme (or ½ teaspoon, dried), finely chopped

½ Habanero pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

Preparation: Heat oil and add pepper, onion and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are softened. Add leeks and sauté for about 5 minutes until leeks are softened. Add carrots and parsnips and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add fresh herbs to taste.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring. In combination with daily exercise, it can contribute to a very fulfilling, and long, life.

Karen Smith-Hagman, RN, MSN is Vice President, Medical Management at EmblemHealth where she oversees initiatives that improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers. EmblemHealth is a sponsor of Harvest Home Farmer’s Market, which provides access to locally grown fruits and vegetables and cooking demonstrations at the West Harlem, East Harlem and Metropolitan farmer’s markets.

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