Healthy eating in November (and December) can be a true test of willpower. First, there's leftover (and half-priced) Halloween candy to contend with. There's the approaching Thanksgiving feast to plan for, not to mention the beginning of the holiday party circuit, with too many finger foods and celebratory toasts, and a seemingly-endless supply of homemade desserts in the office.
But it doesn't have to be, when you consider the fresh produce ripe for the picking this month. You can incorporate some of these nutritional superstars into dishes for your own holiday parties and festive meals or detox with them as a way to balance out the celebratory eating. However you choose to eat them, these November superfoods are not to be missed.
Think of something we missed? Let us know in the comments!
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> Rich in vitamin A and the antioxidant beta-carotene, sweet potatoes can help keep the immune system strong and promote healthy skin. They're also rich in potassium --- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/potassium-foods-banana_n_1898078.html#slide=1544385">with more than a banana!</a> -- and a "fiber-rich carbohydrate," says Angela Ginn, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. <br><br> <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> The versatile root can be baked, mashed, pureed into soups or even used in baked goods, says Ginn. Try slicing them into wedges for homemade fries or even making them into some <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/manuel-villacorta/healthy-chip-recipes_b_2007562.html#slide=1683233">healthy veggie chips</a>.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> "Most people think cauliflower's a white food so I want to stay away from it," says Ginn, but it's actually a low-calorie <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/vitamin-c-foods_n_1457397.html#slide=911371">source of vitamin C</a>, fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin K. It also packs some of the <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/cauliflower-health-boost">disease-preventing powers of its cruciferous cousin, broccoli</a>. <br><br> <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> There are a number of ways to prepare cauliflower that disguise it as a potato-type dish, like mashing it. Ginn also suggests trying it roasted with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> Anything with such a bright color is sure to pack some powerful health properties, says Ginn. Cranberry antioxidants can help the heart and fight bacteria, most famously to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/healthy-food-healthiest-list_n_1636409.html#slide=1161400">prevent urinary tract infections</a>. <br><br> <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> The <a href="http://www.uscranberries.com/cranberries/harvest.html">cranberry harvest</a> generally ends mid-November, just in time for Thanksgiving sauces and glazes. Cooking Light suggests <a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-cranberries-00400000003332/">mixing them into pies, cobblers and muffins as well</a>.
<strong>Why we love it:</strong> Winter varieties like acorn and butternut squashes are sweeter than summer squashes like zucchini and <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307323_10,00.html">can be stored longer</a>, thanks to their thick skins, according to Health.com. Like sweet potatoes, winter squash is a fantastic source of vitamin A and beta-carotene -- that orange color's a dead giveaway. <br><br> <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> Try them roasted, maybe even with a drizzle of maple syrup, says Ginn.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> This relative of the onion is <a href="http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/01/in-season-leeks-choosing-storing-recipes-20100109.html">in season from October through May</a>, according to Serious Eats. They are rich in calcium, potassium and folic acid, and may <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/nutritious_foods_for_a_healthy_body/bone_builder_leeks.php?page=1">protect against heart problems and prostate cancer</a>, Men's Health reported. <br><br> <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> Toss some leeks into your next batch of cozy, cold-weather soup. One chef even offers a soup recipe that <a href="http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/10/caroline-fidanza-cauliflower-in-season-recipe.html">pairs leeks with another November superfood on our list, cauliflower!</a> <br><br> Since they provide a milder flavor than an onion, says Ginn, try them in a quiche or an omelet, she says.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> You get two-for-one benefits with turnips, since you can eat both the root and the greens for different health perks (and tastes!). The roots are a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/health/nutrition/turnips-versatile-and-nutritious-in-any-season-turnips-versatile-and-nutritious-in-any-season.html">good source of immunity-boosting vitamin C and potassium</a>. The leaves, which are similar to kale, according to the <em>New York Times</em>, are <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307323_13,00.html">rich in vitamins A, K and folate</a>. <br><br> <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> Try them in a root vegetable soup, or as a <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/giving-turnips-a-second-look/">low-carb alternative to potatoes</a>. If you're <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/27/cook-vegetables-health_n_1919785.html">cooking the greens</a>, go easy on the water so as to sap as little of the nutrients from the leaves as possible, says Ginn.
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