Fall foods with health benefits

- The autumn season is in full effect and although the temperatures do not quite reflect it, we are starting to ramp up the intake of more warming seasonal foods. Pumpkin and winter squashes are some featured ingredients of the fall but they can often get disguised or bogged down by excessive sugar, refined flours, and other processed ingredients. Ali Miller, integrative dietitian and owner of Naturally Nourished, shares a recipe that highlights the benefits of healthy fall foods and can be used as a trick to tame sugar cravings and boost belly fat while providing food as medicine.

Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, plays a role in cancer prevention and both are abundant in whole non-processed foods. Aim for 35 grams of dietary fiber each day for optimal estrogen balance.

Soluble fiber absorbs fluids and works like a gel filling up our stomach and slowing our breakdown of foods. This compound can help contribute to satiety. Soluble fiber foods include chia seeds, pumpkin, pears and flax seeds.

Zinc is an important mineral that can aid with sleep regulation for anyone experiencing insomina. Zinc can also help with mood regulation and decrease anxiety. The immune system also uses this important mineral when compromised by virus or bugs to up-regulate the body's natural defense system. Zinc foods include pumpkin seeds, beef and oysters.

Chrysin is a naturally-occurring flavionoid found in raw honey that can trap estrogen and prevent conversion of testosterone into estrogen through aromatization. This is found only in raw honey due to the higher pollen count and crystallization. Chrysin foods include raw unfiltered honey, passion flower and skullcap herb.

Cinnamon aids in blood sugar balance reducing blood sugar spikes and promoting balanced insulin response. This is important as insulin is proinflammatory driving fat storage and hormonal imbalance. Also as a source of chromium, cinnamon can help to regulate cholesterol levels while providing a nice warming flavor.
Both cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon are helpful foods.

Vitamin A/Beta-carotene -- 1 cup of pumpkin provides 200 percent of your daily need of vitamin A, a fat-soluble nutrient that aids in night blindness and eye health, skin health and collagen formation for youthful appearance, and as a powerful supporter of the immune system. Using fresh and roasted with fat is best, if steamed be sure to add fat to absorb all of its nutritional benefits. If buying canned, look for organic BPA-free, with no added sugar.


Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pure canned or fresh pumpkin purée
  • 4 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons raw unfiltered honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds or pecans to garnish
  • Cinnamon to garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine almond milk, pumpkin, chia seeds, honey and spices in a bowl. Stir until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight to set.
  2. Spoon pudding into serving glass and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds (or pecans) to garnish.
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