The flavors of fall

By Laura Schmidt RD, LD

Fall brings an abundance of flavorful, seasonal foods that are packed full of nutrition! October is National Pork Month, Apple Month, Cranberry Month – and October 29 is National Oatmeal Day! Now is the time to take advantage of these flavorful fall foods and the nutrition they provide. Oatmeal is the dietitian Pick of the Month for October, and it is a great pairing with these seasonal fall foods.

National Pork Month Pork Month was originally started because October was the time most hogs were brought to market. Now the month has evolved into a way to educate consumers on pork production and the nutritional benefits of eating pork. According to the USDA, pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat, making up 42% of meat consumption worldwide. To choose the leanest cuts, look for the words “round” or “loin” in the name. These cuts will contain higher amounts of quality protein and lower amounts of saturated fat. Pork tenderloin contains the same fat content as a skinless chicken breast, and offers a good source of many B vitamins and minerals. The pork tenderloin is not only lean, but it is versatile and flavorful as well! Oatmeal works great as a coating for both tenderloin and pork chops. You can leave the oatmeal whole, or grind it up into a flour for a flavorful twist. Or you can try the recipe below for an easy pork chop saut; it is a weeknight dinner idea your family will be sure to love.

National Cranberry Month October is the peak month of harvesting cranberries. Cranberries are grown on vines in bogs, or wet marshy areas. Cranberries are known for their bacteria-blocking compounds that have been linked to the prevention of urinary tract infections. New research is showing these compounds may also be helpful in preventing ulcers and gum disease. Cranberries’ rich antioxidant content may help reduce inflammation and increase heart health. Cranberries come in a variety of forms with varying nutrition content. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and cranberry juice all contain the bacteria-blocking compounds. If fresh or frozen cranberries are too tart for you, make them into a sauce by boiling them with water or low-sugar orange juice just until they pop. Overcooking the cranberries will increase their bitterness. Fresh cranberry sauce is excellent stirred into oatmeal or plain Greek yogurt. Better yet, stir all three together for a creamy fall treat. When choosing dried cranberries or juice, look for ones with no or less added sugar.

National Apple Month More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the U.S. There is sure to be a variety to please even the pickiest eater! The saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has scientific merit. One study found eating an apple a day helped reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. Regular apple consumption has also been linked to weight loss, improved gut health, cancer prevention, and reduced inflammation. There are many ways to add apples to your daily diet. The easiest way is to wash and eat! Or add chopped apples and a dash of cinnamon to oatmeal before cooking it for a flavorful fall treat. Apples and oatmeal make a great fall combo in bars, cookies, and breakfast breads as well. Keep in mind, apples ripen 6-10 times faster at room temperature, so if you want your apples to last longer, store them in the refrigerator.

Easy Pork Chop Saut with Cranberries

Serves 4

All you need:

1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves

1/4 tsp salt, divided

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided

4 boneless pork loin chops, (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed of fat

2/3 cup cranberry juice cocktail or orange juice

2 1/2 to 3 tbsp clover or other mild honey

2 tsp Hy-Vee canola oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (see Tip)

All you do:

1. Mix thyme and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with the thyme mixture.

2. Stir cranberry juice and 2 1/2 tablespoons honey in a 1-cup glass measure until well blended.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chops and cook until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

4. Push the chops to one side of the pan, add onion to the empty half and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Pour half the juice mixture into the pan. Add cranberries. Reduce heat to medium and cook, turning the chops occasionally, until cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the chops to a serving plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

6. Add the remaining juice mixture to the pan. Increase heat to high and cook until the mixtures reduces to form a syrupy sauce, about 2 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper and up to an additional 1/2 tablespoon honey to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chops.

Tip: To make quick work of chopping cranberries, place whole berries in a food processor and pulse a few times until the berries are coarsely chopped.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 277 calories, 10g fat, 2g saturated fat, 83mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 27g protein.

Daily values: 13% iron.

Source: adapted from Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.

The information is not intended as medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.

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