Underrated fall superfoods

Underrated fall superfoods

Credit: KING / Caitlin Murphy

Beets, cauliflower and parsnips are both tasty and nutritious fall vegetables.


by CAITLIN MURPHY / Special Contributor to KING 5


Posted on November 7, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 2:11 PM

Move over pumpkins, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. There are three under-the-radar vegetables that are about to take the title of top fall superfood.

Beets, cauliflower and parsnips pack, in some cases, an even bigger nutritional punch than better known seasonal produce. With the power to reduce your cancer risk, improve your mood and even make your skin look better, these three underrated fall superfoods are a must try.

Not only will you learn the health benefits, but three Seattle food bloggers will also show you delicious new ways to incorporate beets, cauliflower and parsnips into your own fall menu.


With their deep red pigments and earthy, sweet taste, these roots vegetables are one of the planet’s healthiest foods. As a rule of thumb, the more colorful a food is the more antioxidants it contains, and as such, beets have antioxidants in spades.

The pigments that give the veggies their ruby red hue contain a phytonutrient called betacyanin, which can help fight cancer and assist your body’s anti-inflammatory response. Beets are also high in nitrates that increase blood flow to your brain, heart and muscles, reducing blood pressure. Studies have even shows that nitrates can help to stave off dementia.

The benatine found in beets acts as a natural detoxifier to cleanse and protect your liver. And you might want to make a bowl full of beets before you next big run. Studies show they boost endurance and reduce inflammation to help with muscle recovery. 

Since beets are low calorie and low fat but with plenty of fiber they leave your feeling full and satisfied and can help with weight loss.Plus, there are a few aesthetic reasons to add beets to your diet. The antioxidants, folic acid and betalain boost collagen production, improve skin health and help your hair grow.

RECIPE: Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza

While beets can sometimes get a bad rap in the taste department, they are actually quite delicious. Chef and entertaining expert Heather Cristo has a recipe sure to make you a beet lover.

The beet purée for the pizza is  “spiked with garlic and balsamic vinegar so that it has a really bright and vibrant flavor to go with the stunning color," Cristo said. "Then you have the hot, creamy, tangy chunks of Goat Cheese.”

Get her recipe for beet and goat cheese pizza.


As part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, cauliflower looks like a pale version of its more common cousin broccoli. It has a milder, slightly nuttier flavor, and like broccoli, this veggie is filled with health benefits.

Cauliflower contains antioxidants Vitamin C and manganese, plus phytonutrients that fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of cancer. It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin K, which aids your body’s anti-inflammatory response. And did you know cauliflower contains a compound called glucoraphin that helps protect your stomach lining?

Plus, one medium head of cauliflower has half of your daily recommended fiber intake, so making the veggies part of your diet is helpful for lowering cholesterol.

Recipe: Sicilian Spaghetti with Pan-Roasted Cauliflower

Michael Natkin, chef and cookbook author, revamps vegetarian fare on his website Herbivoracious. Natkin said his recipe for Sicilian Spaghetti with Pan-Roasted Cauliflower features “classic Sicilian…sweet, salty, toasty and herbaceous” flavors. Give his recipe a try for a cozy fall dinner.


Parsnips look like large, light colored carrots. These root vegetables have a woody flavor, hearty texture and make a great substitute for potatoes. Making that switch will result in a high fiber dish, as a serving of parsnips has about 25 percent of your daily recommended intake.

You’ll also find plenty of antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which work to protect your body from free radical damage and cancer causing agents. And parsnips can even help your body build stronger bones with Vitamin K and manganese.  

Packed potassium and folate, these robust veggies can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and blood clots and improve your heart health.  Plus, diets rich in folate are also linked to lower levels of depression, cancer and hearing loss. Don’t forget, folate is essential for pregnant women to reduce the risk of birth defects.

Recipe: Parsnip-Celery Root Puree

Change up your regular mashed potato recipe and try this Parsnip-Celery Root Puree from food blogger Shauna James Ahern’s website Gluten Free Girl.  Shauna says the recipe has “ a small vegetable sweetness, a honeyed mellow richness and a slight peppery taste from the celery root”.  She suggests it might make a nice addition to your Thanksgiving menu (If you’d like to make it healthier, Shauna says to substitute milk for heavy cream).  Check out the recipe here.

So, next time you peruse the produce aisles of the grocery store or saunter through a fall farmer's market, consider expanding your veggie variety. Add beets, cauliflower or parsnips to your basket and reap the superfood benefits, along with the super scrumptious taste.