Autumn’s produce offers a wide variety of choice for fresh, healthy meals.

The change of season means more than just leaves changing colour. It also means produce such as apples, pears, kale and eggplant can be made into nutritious meals the whole family will enjoy.   
“As we head into the cooler months, colour is key to getting all the micronutrients you need to boost your immune system,”says 5+ A Day nutritionist Bronwen Anderson. “Look for produce that is brightest in colour, as this indicates it is nutrient-rich.
“When you eat with the seasons, you end up eating a greater range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, essential for health and wellbeing,” says Bronwen. “A diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, not only gives you variety, it also helps to maintain a healthy body weight.  That’s because fresh produce is rich in water and high in fibre, which makes us feel fuller for longer.” 
Eating different coloured produce is a sure-fire way to provide your body with all the antioxidants and phytochemicals it needs to stay healthy. Here are some quick tips on how to enjoy autumn produce.  
Nutrition: Apples are considered a good source of immune system-boosting vitamin C, while the fibre content in apples also helps to keep you feeling full for longer without costing a lot of calories.  
Quick tips: Baked apple slices are great to snack on. Thinly slice apple and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and bake until soft. Apples also add a natural sweetness to stir fries. Simply chop apple into matchsticks and add 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
Nutrition: Pears are a good source of fibre, most of which is contained in the skin. Pears are also a source of vitamin C, which is essential for normal growth and tissue repair, proper immune function and guarding against infectious diseases. 
Quick tips: Sliced pear, brushed with lemon juice to stop from browning, is a healthy addition to salads. Sliced or cubed pear goes well with apples, cucumber, fennel and rocket. For a sweet, crunchy dessert, halve and core pears. Roast in oven until soft. 
Toss chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds, brown sugar, oats, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil and spread on a small baking sheet. Toast on lower rack, stirring occasionally, for 10–12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and mix in sesame seeds. Let cool. Whisk mascarpone or yoghurt and 1 tablespoon of icing sugar in a small bowl. Spoon mascarpone or yoghurt mixture onto plates and top with pears and nut-oat crumble.
Nutrition: Eggplants contain dietary fibre which aids digestive health. The nasunin antioxidant in eggplants gives it its purple colour. 
Quick tips: For healthy mini pizzas, cut eggplant into thick slices. Rub both sides with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. Flip eggplant slices and top with tomato paste, crushed garlic, finely chopped mushroom, herbs and a sprinkling of cheese. Bake until cooked.  For an easy side dish, cut eggplant into cubes and toss with chilli, honey and oil. Roast until eggplant softens. Make a tangy tzatziki-inspired sauce for grilled eggplant by combining plain yoghurt, grated cucumber, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Serve as a side dish or layer the eggplant and yoghurt sauce on veggie burgers.  
Adding kale to your diet helps ensure you meet the recommended daily intake of vitamins C and K. Kale also contains vitamin A and minerals like copper and folate. It is also a plant-based source of calcium, a nutrient that is very important for bone health and plays a role in cellular functions.
Quick tips: Simply braising kale makes a fuss-free side. Heat olive oil in a pot and add chopped garlic. Cook for 30 seconds before adding chicken stock. Add handfuls of kale to the pot and let it wilt before adding the next handful. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. For a quick crunchy snack, brush kale leaves with a little olive oil. Grill until crispy and golden at the edges. Serve immediately. 
Courgettes are a source of folate, which is important for maintaining mental health. They are also a source of niacin which helps to release energy from food and supports healthy growth and function.
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