The season of harvest has officially commenced. Many of us will spend the coming weeks thinking of ways to best honor the vibrancy of colors in nature, the cooler, yet more comfortable temperatures, and the abundance of options for outdoor fun.
The countryside offers many seasonal activities such as hayrides, apple picking and pumpkins. But for a scrumptious treat that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home, consider visiting your local farmer’s market to reap in nutritional satisfaction through the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Carrots, for example, not only offer color and pizzazz to your plate, but they are also highly nutritious and delicious.
An orange root vegetable, carrots contain more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A in just a half-cup serving. They also contain beta-carotene, vitamins C and K and are a good source of fiber.
Beta-carotene transforms into vitamin A in the body and acts as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage and are suspected in cardiovascular disease as well as cancer.
Vitamin A supports vision and eye health, and benefits the immune system and skin.
Mint leaves, which are often thought of as a garnish, can be eaten whole and offer many health benefits.
They can have a soothing effect on the digestive system and relieve stomach pain.
In addition, mint leaves can also promote good oral health, which is evident in the abundance of dental products produced which such flavoring. They can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth and kill germs.
Available at your local farmer’s market, carrots and mint leaves, when combined with raisins, water and spices, make for one nourishing treat.
Tasty and in shades of autumn, this easy-to-make recipe will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied:
Sautéed Carrots with Raisins
1 pound carrots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons raisins
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
Preparation: Heat oil. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add carrots, raisins, water, sugar, salt and spices. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add mint leaves and toss to combine. Latin Caribbean Variation: Omit cayenne and replace mint with cilantro.
By selecting fresh fruits and vegetables at the peak of their flavor, you can invigorate your senses and turn healthy eating into an exciting activity. Because it just turns out that healthy eating, when combined with daily exercise, is at the root of living a long, healthy life and you might as well enjoy it!
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.