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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

The autumn harvest is as plentiful as it is varied. Celebrate the season with squash, kohlrabi and wild mushrooms

 

Wild mushrooms

You don’t need to go foraging (if you do, be careful what you pick) as supermarkets now sell the likes of porcini, oyster, morels and girolle, as well as wild mushroom mixes.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day is 80g.

The nutrition will vary depending on the variety but, as a rule, mushrooms are packed with fibre and provide blood-pressure-controlling potassium, the antioxidant selenium plus copper for healthy nerves and strong immunity. Mushrooms also contain phosphorus and manganese for strong bones, and a variety of B vitamins such as B2, folate and pantothenic acid, all of which help to release energy from food. Plus they make a satisfying veggie alternative to meat in dishes such as stir-fries, burgers and stews.

Nutritional information per 80g, 13kcal, 0.2g sugars, 0.9g fibre

In the kitchen
SAUTÉ a bunch of spring onions and 300g wild mushrooms in a large pan with a little oil until soft. Add 600ml reduced-salt stock, 50ml madeira and simmer for 10 min. Season with black pepper and 1tsp dijon mustard, then blend to make a smooth soup.
FRY mushrooms in a little oil, then add to a classic omelette mixture with 1tsp chopped fresh tarragon and finely grated parmesan.
ADD sliced mushrooms to potatoes roasted in a little oil for the last 15 min of cooking time for a Sunday lunch side.
wild-mushrooms

Squash

Butternut, acorn, spaghetti, sweet dumpling… The list is long, and it’s worth exploring the different flavours and shapes of them all.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day 80g.

Squash makes a low-carb alternative to potatoes (roast, mash or boil). Nutrients vary – for example, 80g baked acorn squash has 352mg potassium, compared with 224mg in butternut and 96mg in spaghetti. But the star is the beta-carotene in butternut. This antioxidant is used to make vitamin A in the body (vital for healthy skin, eyesight and immunity). An 80g serving provides around 54% of our daily needs for vitamin A.

Nutritional information per 80g (butternut, baked), 26kcal, 3.1g sugars, 1.5g fibre

In the kitchen
STICKY SQUASH SALAD, serves 4 as a side
Heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Slice 750g squash into 3cm thick wedges and put in a lined baking tray. Spray with oil and season with black pepper and grated nutmeg, then roast for 30 min. Toss with 1tbsp maple syrup, then roast for 5 min more. Set aside to cool. Mix 50g strong blue cheese with 6tbsp low-fat natural yogurt and 2tbsp skimmed milk until smooth, then stir in 2tbsp snipped fresh chives. Toss the squash with 100g spinach leaves, 1 sliced chicory head and 2tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds, then drizzle over the yogurt dressing to serve.
squash

Kohlrabi

It looks and sounds unusual, but it’s a member of the cabbage family and tastes a bit like a sweet turnip. Not so ‘out there’, really…

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day is 80g.

Kohlrabi contains many of the nutrients you’d find in its more common green leafy cousin, the cabbage. In particular, it’s rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help to protect against cell damage. It also contains folate, a B vitamin that’s needed for keeping our nervous system healthy and for ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Folate is especially important for women planning to have a baby or in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to help ensure the baby’s spine develops properly. As a result, health experts recommend women eat more folate-rich foods when planning to have a baby and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, as well as taking a 400mcg daily supplement of folic acid.

Nutritional information per 80g, 14kcal, 2.4g sugars, 2g fibre

In the kitchen
FINELY SHRED, then toss with mustard, low-fat natural yogurt and apple for a creamy slaw.
THINLY SLICE and stir-fry with chilli and spring onions until tender (adding the leaves towards the end of cooking if using).
DICE AND ROAST with a little curry powder and oil, then toss with chopped fresh coriander before serving with grilled chicken or fish.
kohlrabi

Related article: Seasonal ways to five-a-day in November