We might have had to reluctantly bid farewell to summer already, but as the crisper days, darker nights and Pumpkin Spice Lattes start rolling in, with the start of Autumn comes many advantages.
One of those is the home-grown vegetables that start to crop up around this time of year – each bringing with them a host of health benefits that make chowing down on them even more exciting. Eating seasonal produce will also save you money and is better for the environment – you can’t lose!
Check out our top picks of the UK’s in-season vegetables and why anyone with health on their radar should give them a try.
1 Butternut squash
Once the weather starts to cool down, squash is one of the most versatile foods you can start adding to your meals. The butternut variety is a great alternative to potatoes and sweet potatoes, and has a subtly sweet taste without being too overpowering. While the hard skin tends to be discarded, it’s totally edible and can add some serious fibre to your diet if kept on.
Why: Butternut squash is rich in vitamins A and C as well as beta-carotene, calcium and magnesium.
Try it: Is there anything better than roasted squash? Try it seasoned with rosemary and sea salt.
While it might have a bad rap for staining clothes, getting messy and turning your pee pink, beetroot is totally worth it. If you’re worried about the prep mess (you shouldn’t be, it’s easier than it looks!), beetroot can always be bought ready-cooked in most supermarkets, taking care of all the dirty work for you. If you’re cooking it yourself, do so with the skin on until tender.
Why: Beetroot is rich in potassium, magnesium and manganese, making it a popular choice among regular exercisers.
Try it: Spice up your salads in an instant with grated beetroot.
Bored of spinach? Watercress could be the leafy green substitute you’ve been waiting for. While throwing it into a salad works just fine, limiting watercress to just salads would be doing the versatile veg an injustice. Adding it to sandwiches, soups and smoothies would give the nutrition factor of your meals a huge boost without any added fuss.
Why: Watercress is packed with calcium, vitamin C and iron – so eat up for that immune system.
Try it: As an extra ingredient in your favourite soup recipe.
Kale might be the trendiest veg on the planet these days but with its endless nutritious benefits, we’re still not bored of it. From kale salads to kale chips, the antioxidant-rich green is one of the highest ranking foods when it comes to nutrient density, and autumn is the best time to munch on the stuff.
Why: Vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium… the list goes on!
Try it: Sauteed with your other favourite vegetables for a hearty wholesome meal packed with a range of nutrients.
5 Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts might scream ‘Christmas dinner’, but these nutritious powerhouses are actually in season from autumn all the way through to winter and are fairly easy to grow yourself. Adding them to your weekly shop will seriously up the ante of your regular diet without breaking the bank.
Why: A good source of iron, fibre and folate.
Try it: Roasted with your Sunday dinner! Make sure to cut an ‘X’ at the bottom of each sprout to help them cook through.